Tuition, boarding, books, and food — students have enough to spend their money on.
Luckily, a student ID unlocks many special discounts and free things to do across Philly, including deals at museums and access to special events.
Here’s where students can go for free and cheap museum entry, deals on live performances, discounted tickets to sports games, grocery store deals, and more.
CollegeFest is a 20-plus year tradition that welcomes students back for the new academic year. The annual event takes place over a weekend in September (Sept. 11-12 in 2021) with more than 25 free experiences across Philadelphia, including free admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute, free rock climbing at The Cliffs at Callowhill, a meet and greet with the Phillie Phanatic, and more. Those who register for the event online are automatically entered to win prizes such as gift cards and concert tickets.
🌐 campusphilly.org, 📅 Sept. 11-12
This year marks 25 years of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, an event that promises a wide range of performances. The five-week event starts in early September (Sept. 9-Oct. 3 in 2021) with several free preview nights. During the nearly monthlong event, you can snag student tickets for $15 or $5 off ticket price, depending on the show.
🌐 fringearts.com, 📅 Sept. 9-Oct. 3
You won’t see another museum like this outside of Paris. The Rodin Museum is entirely dedicated to the different phases of Auguste Rodin’s career, with 150 bronzes, marbles, and plasters, including some of the world’s most celebrated works of art. Admission to the Rodin Museum is pay what you wish, with a suggested admission of $7 for students. The garden is free year-round for everyone.
Get that Rocky statue selfie and view the collections at one of the country’s oldest public art museums. Students can buy tickets for $14, but if you think you’ll be going more than once a year, grab a yearlong membership. With a valid school email address, student memberships are only $25 and come with other benefits, including admission to the Rodin Museum, discounted $10 parking, a 10% dining and shopping discount, access to members-only programs, and more.
The Barnes houses an impressive collection of rare impressionist and post-impressionist art, including masterpieces by Renoir, Picasso, Seurat, Matisse, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. Use your college ID for $5 admission to the museum.
This 19th century mansion in Chestnut Hill is dedicated to the art and artists of Philadelphia and houses more than 8,000 works of art. In addition to the nine galleries, there’s also Woodmere’s outdoor sculpture experience. Admission is free for students with ID, and free for everyone on Sundays.
Where else can you view the tallest skeleton on display in North America, slides of Albert Einstein’s brain, and the jaw tumor of President Grover Cleveland? The Mütter Museum is dedicated to medical history and the human body, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Students with valid ID can buy $15 tickets or a $35 year membership.
See a 3,000-year-old, 15-ton Egyptian sphinx, as well as more than a million artifacts and archaeological finds from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Mediterranean. College students with a valid student ID get free admission Tuesdays through Fridays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Penn students can visit for free anytime.
Curious about how scientific and technological developments affect our daily lives? Learn about the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences and how science is all around us. Admission is free for everyone.
Check out documents handwritten by American’s founding fathers, and explore the rare book library, complete with more than 400,000 volumes at this tucked-away Rittenhouse museum. Admission also includes a guided tour of the historic house. Students can purchase timed tickets for $5.
See both completed works of contemporary art as well as the material research, samples, prototypes, and video of the artists’ process. Anyone can visit the museum for free, though a $5 donation is suggested. Because of COVID-19, you must make a reservation ahead of time.
One of the few kunsthalles (non-collecting museums) in America, and with an ever-changing rotation of under-recognized artists, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is the place to explore what’s new in the art world. The ICA plans to reopen Sept. 18. Admission is free for everyone.
Take a walk back in time and visit Old City’s Elfreth’s Alley, a National Historic Landmark. Tickets to the museum are just $3 for all adults, but you can always walk the street and view the residences from the outside for free.
Attractions and Programs
If you’re using SEPTA to get around, you’ll want to get yourself a SEPTA Key Card. The card is reloadable, contactless, and used for payment across the transit system. Penn, Temple, Drexel, University of the Arts, and University of the Sciences students get about 10% off monthly and semester passes with the SEPTA Key University Pass Program. Once you have that SEPTA Key card, you can flash it for discounts on food, drinks, museum entry, and more throughout the city. Visit the website for the current list of participating businesses.
Learn about the U.S. Constitution and what it means to be “We the People.” Your college ID gets you discounted tickets to the National Constitution Center for $13.
The Liberty Bell is free to visit every day (for students and everyone) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
See the site where the United States was born. Reserve your tour time by phone or online. Tours are just $1 per ticket.
Wonderspaces is a cool and casual art space with immersive, interactive exhibits that rotate every few months. Show your student ID for discounted $20 tickets.
America’s most historic prison offers a variety of tours year-round in addition to the popular Halloween programming come fall. Your student ID gets you a discount on some tours and $13 admission.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a multilevel maze of stunning mosaics, colorful glass, handmade tiles and thousands of glittering mirrors. Reserve student tickets online for $12.
Clear your mind out in nature with a walk around Morris Arboretum, which houses more than 13,000 plants throughout its 92 acres. If you’re a student at Penn, you get free admission with your PennCard. Other students can get $10 tickets.
Theater and movies
America’s oldest theater doesn’t have a specific student discount, but if you’re 24 or younger, you can get same-day youth tickets for $25. To snag a cheap seat, you have to buy tickets in person at the box office.
The Kimmel Center is still closed for performances, but the plan is to reopen this fall. High school and college students can sign up for KimmelSTIX to receive emails when discounted $10 tickets are available.
The Wilma offers $15 tickets to their topical plays to anyone with a valid student ID. Limit one ticket per ID, and subject to availability.
Sure, there are tons of ways you can stream movies to watch at home, but there’s still something special about watching it on the big screen. This University City movie theater offers $5.50 tickets for students every Tuesday.
The Ritz is the place to go for the latest indie, foreign film, or smart movie from Hollywood. During the summer, anyone can buy $7 tickets every Wednesday. During the rest of the year, students can buy discounted $8 tickets every Wednesday.
Cheer for the home team with $20 tickets at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies Student Steal program is available to all high school, college, and graduate students. Use the code STUDENTSTEAL to get the discount.
Get a glimpse of Gritty and watch some hockey with the Flyers Student Rush program. You’ll get an email 24 to 48 hours before select home games with a link to buy discounted tickets. Bring your college ID to redeem.
Show your student ID on Sundays and Wednesdays and get 10% off at this favorite produce stand. Shop quality produce, nuts in bulk, homemade juices, and more.
Shop fresh produce as well as some Asian grocery staples at this Reading Terminal Market spot. Show your student ID to receive 10% off.
About the writer
Michelle Reese is a freelance writer who also runs the kids activities blog Sweet Mini Moments. She lives in Bucks County.