Although the fireworks and live performances gather the large crowds, there's another part of the Wawa Welcome America Festival that many look forward to every year: Free museums!
Museums across Philadelphia provide free access on certain days of the festival -- one of the most unique aspects of the week-long Independence Day celebration. Check out schedules and information about all participating locations below.
Wednesday, July 4
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National Museum of American Jewish History
101 S. Independence Mall East, Philadelphia
Take some time out of a busy Independence Day to check out the National Museum of American Jewish History. With spotlight talks, story times, Independence Day arts and crafts projects, and more, the visit is recommended for both kids and adults. Explore the educational programs and experiences that preserve and celebrate the history of Jewish people in America. You can visit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more information.
Thursday, June 28
National Constitution Center
525 Arch St., Philadelphia
To kick off the week, the National Constitution Center will offer free admission from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Relive the founding of the American government through exhibits such as "Freedom Rising," "We the People," and "Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation." Guests do not need to receive tickets ahead of time. To find out more about the museum, visit its website.
Friday, June 29
3260 South St., Philadelphia
The largest university-affiliated museum in the United States is home to about 1 million total pieces -- including the largest Egyptian sphinx in the Western Hemisphere. Check out their new Middle East galleries, outdoor garden spaces, and much more at no cost from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Penn Museum, check out its website.
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia
Historic Eastern State Penitentiary used to be the most expensive prison in the world and home to criminals including “Scarface” Al Capone. Visitors can participate in the “Voices of Eastern State” audio tour, "Hands-On History" interactive experiences, and a number of other exhibits. Free admission will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. Check out its website for more information on tours and the history of the museum.
Saturday, June 30
First Bank of the United States
116 S. 3rd St., Philadelphia
For the first time in more than three decades, the nation’s oldest-surviving federal building will give interior tours to the public. The bank, established by Alexander Hamilton in 1791, became the foundation for America’s financial system. Tours run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets are first-come, first-served. For more information on America’s first national bank, check out its website.
Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Books
1901 Vine St., Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Rare Book Department has one of the largest collections among America’s public libraries. The department’s latest exhibition, "In Our Nature: Flora and Fauna of the Americas," includes historical texts and illustrations demonstrating human relationships with native and introduced species. It will be open for free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are free but recommended due to the limited size and capacity of the Free Library; reserve yours by clicking here. For more information about the Rare Book Department and the Philadelphia Central Library, click here.
2008 Delancey Pl., Philadelphia
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., The Rosenbach will allow visitors to view important pieces of American history at no cost. The museum includes artifacts such as handwritten documents from George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. While the museum is free for the day, guests must register for a timed ticket. For more information on The Rosenbach, check out its website.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118-128 N. Broad St., Philadelphia
PAFA’s museum is recognized internationally for its impressive collections of 19th and 20th century American art. The school and museum work together to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for students and visitors. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., check out their two newest exhibits, "Swarm" and "Infinite Spaces." For additional information, check out its website.
Sunday, July 1
One Liberty Observation Deck
1650 Market St., Philadelphia
Start Sunday’s festival with the best views in all of Philadelphia. From 8 a.m. to noon, The One Liberty Observation Deck will open up its rooftop view to the public at no charge. Don’t miss the opportunity to take in a bird’s-eye view of the city. There is no requirement to get tickets ahead of time. Check out its website for any additional information. Don't forget your camera!
1 Fort Mifflin Rd., Philadelphia
Fort Mifflin was the site of a historic 1777 battle, the Colonial defense against the greatest bombardment of the American Revolution. On Sunday, the fort will host a flag-raising ceremony, guided tours and craft demonstrations. Parking is also free. Join then from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Delaware riverfront -- rain or shine. Visit its website for any additional information.
Philadelphia Museum of Art (July 1 and 2)
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is home to some of the most important collections of art in the world, including a renowned collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art, a trove of folk art and an armory collection that will delight anyone who thinks knights are cool. If your exploration has only extended to the famous Rocky steps, why not come in and take a look at masterpieces including Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and Auguste Rodin's "Eternal Springtime" in person, while it's free? Pay what you wish during the first two days of July from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, click here.
The Barnes Foundation
2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia
Just down the Parkway, the Barnes also has one of finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modernist paintings in the world, with pieces from Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and others. Though the Barnes' state-of-the-art building also includes a shop, restaurant, and multiple event spaces, the museum took pains to hang its artwork in the eclectic style of its founder, Albert Barnes, who mixed furniture, metalwork and other objects among his masterpieces. The Barnes will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit its website to find out more.
African American Museum in Philadelphia
701 Arch St., Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s African American Museum is the first institution built by a United States city to celebrate and interpret the life and work of African Americans. The museum brings alive the importance of African-American history and culture in each of its exhibits. Check out the museum for free from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more, visit its website.
Monday, July 2
19 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia
America’s finest museum of medical history will participate in the free museum series for the first time. The exhibits inside the museum detail medical practices involved in many different eras and include slides of Einstein’s brain, a jaw tumor of President Grover Cleveland and much more. Check it out from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the medical museum, visit its website.
Tuesday, July 3
National Liberty Museum
321 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
The National Liberty Museum is dedicated to preserving America’s heritage of freedom and encourages guests to find their own place in the story of liberty. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., check out the exhibits and get yourself in the spirit for the upcoming holiday. Visit its website for more information about the museum and their exhibits.
2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia
The only institution outside Paris dedicated to French sculptor Auguste Rodin is located in the heart of Philadelphia. With nearly 150 bronzes, marbles and plasters, the collection represents every phase in his illustrious career. Guests don't need to pre-register, and the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on Rodin and the entire museum, click here.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has pay-what-you-wish admission on July 1 and 2.