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Hit the gym, bowl a strike, cool off in a museum, or take a mural tour.
If you’re a teenager who’s not already in summer camp or working a summer job, what can you do with your time off that doesn’t cost money you don’t have?
Philly is actually full of free activities for young folks — you just have to know where to look.
Some things are unstructured, like spending the day at one of the city’s public pools, while others offer a chance to explore skills you probably won’t learn in school (think cooking or bowling a strike).
Check out the list of ideas below, and share with the teens in your life. If you have one to add, send us a note!
Calling all wannabe gym rats: teens aged 14 to 19 work out for free at any of Philly’s 16 Planet Fitness locations. The offer is good through Aug. 31. All you need: a parent’s permission, a smartphone to sign up, and a smidge of motivation.
For extra incentive, everyone who joins will automatically be entered to win a $500 scholarship, with one prize awarded per state, and an additional $5,000 grand prize scholarship.
Since 2021, Students At Museums in Philly has been encouraging high schoolers to take advantage of their free access to museums, historic sites, and gardens across the city. The offer is valid for current students, and all you need is a school ID to access one of the 15 Stamp Sites.
Some favorite locations: The Barnes Foundation for an art stroll, Bartram’s Garden for rowboat rides, and Eastern State Penitentiary for a tour of some gritty Philly history.
Technically, this nationwide promotion is only available for teens under 15, but if that fits, it’s a zero-cost way for friends to get together or an avenue for low-cost family gatherings. Registered kids ages 3 to 15 can bowl two free games a day all summer long at lanes across the U.S.
Philly has two participating locations at Thunderbird Lanes (Oxford Circle) and Thunderbird Lanes (Torresdale). Hopefully you only strike out in the way that matters.
This oasis for skaters is on the Schuylkill Banks near the Philadelphia Art Museum. Built after the famed Love Park skate spot was demolished and redesigned, it has 30,000 square feet of rails, ledges, transitions and benches.
The crowd includes skateboarders and rollerskaters of all skill levels, and you’ll get some nice views of the river and skyline in between kickflips.
Unearth your inner tourist on one of several walking tours to learn why Philly’s known as the mural capital of the world. There are paid tours that get booked months in advance, but with the handy self-guided options, you get to decide how much time to spend and where to go.
Nope, you don’t even have to read if you don’t want to.
Activities are happening daily at library branches all over Philadelphia, from cooking classes and primers on global cuisines to dance workshops and crochet lessons for beginners. There’s truly something for everyone, even for yogis or anime trivia hustlers.
This citywide group has four different excursions planned exclusively for Philly high school students throughout the remainder of the summer. The schedule kicks off with an Open Mic Brunch, followed by trips to Philadelphia Print Works and Sankofa farms, and ends with a hands-on video making workshop.
You can sign up for any (or all) of the events going on from July 21 until Aug. 26.
Go beyond murals with seven self-guided walking tours put together by Association for Public Art. Some of the options: discover 27 acres of trees and sculptures at the Horticultural Center in West Fairmount Park or bike along Kelly Drive to find your favorite house on Boathouse Row.
Craving a break from city life? The friends group of this Fairmount Park offshoot is hosting a series of volunteer events from Tuesday until Thursday for the rest of July.
Each day from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., volunteers will be given a series of tasks to complete, from trail improvements and invasive plant removals to simple trash pickups.
Parks & Rec is hosting a bunch of teen-only pool events from now until the end of the summer, with free drinks, pretzels, and prizes at the door.
You can also test out your swimming skills, and if you’ve got what it takes, sign up for a free lifeguard certification class. Or if you need to brush up, there’s also free swim classes on offer. You can sign up for both on site.
This nonprofit center on the banks of the Schuylkill offers a handful of hands-on programs, where you can learn about things like river conservation, the history of the land, and gardening. There’s also free fishing and boating.
Free boating started in June and goes on every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Oct. 15. Catch-and-release fishing started mid-July and is offered every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Aug. 31. It’s first-come, first serve, though, so it’s best to line up early.
Updated July 14
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Teens, Kelly Drive, Planet Fitness, Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, Free Library, Volunteering, Wissahickon Park, Department of Parks & Recreation
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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes.