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aboutPhiladelphia Travel Guide

Apr 2, 2018
by Logan Hunt

4 Parks in Philadelphia that will Make You Feel Young at Heart

Even before the city of Philadelphia was founded, our forefathers were already enchanted with the incredible, breathtaking outdoor spaces all around Philadelphia. So inspired were they by the New World that William Penn called his little newfound colony Penn’s Woods, renamed Pennsylvania. Arm yourself with a map from the city's Visitors Center or a GPS system on your smartphone, pull up your bootstraps and you’re ready to plan your trajectory around greene countrie. Many of the parks started off as a part of the recreated imagination of the country’s forefathers. In the form of spacious urban spaces packed with families and little ones tumbling around the manicured greens, youngsters testing their strengths at the parks amenities skateboarding, cycling, running, jogging, walking and playing frisbee. On the fringes of the vast spaces are often pop-up gardens filled with blooming flowers

The park systems in and around Philadelphia also houses many of the city’s most iconic landmarks and historic institutions like The Barnes Foundation, Please Touch Museum, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Glen Foerd on the Delaware, Shofuso Japanese House & Garden, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The well-maintained trail systems are also built around green spaces, often snaking their ways around rivers, calming streams, piers, business and shopping districts. Therefore, you are a short walk away from attractions like Spruce Street Harbor Park, Race Street Pier, Longwood Gardens or Valley Forge National Historical Park.

stream river waterfall, hiking, outdoor space park

1. Wissahickon Valley Park

Valley Green Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19128
(215) 247-0417
As vast as the park is, it gives off the feeling that it aims to simplify all complexities of the modern world. With more than 2,000 acres of park space, which includes the Wissahickon Creek flowing in from Schuylkill River, its 57-mile of serene wild, untouched landscape and its 1,800-acre gorge serves as a respite for people who simply needs to connect with nature. The trail leads hikers and runners into the depths of forests and meadows. You can even take a drive along the gravel road that sits along the calming creek, or hike your way up the more challenging off-road cycling and hiking areas. Armed with a camera or smartphone, be on the lookout for local wildlife like chickadees, titmice, doves, wrens, blue jays, woodpeckers and owls. Thanks to its healthy population of birds, it is an important birding area as designated by the National Audubon Society.
What to expect:-
  • A popular hiking spot with the locals
  • Well-maintained, marked trails
  • A magical experience at the forbidden drive trail
  • Lets you connect with nature
  • Has an ice-cream bar
  • Perfect for picnics
  • Just a short drive from downtown Philly
  • A great green space for birdwatchers and fishing enthusiasts

2. Fairmount Park

1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 683-3600
Although the park was built in the early 1810s, it did not officially open its doors to the public until a little later in 1876. Ever since then though, it has become a major Philly tourist magnet. It represents both being an ephemeral respite to being the largest municipal park in the state of Pennsylvania. As every bit of the weight of the world falls off your shoulders, you’ll feel every ounce of your resolve and energy restored with just a short walk around this famous park; it has attracted more than 10 million people so far, especially during the nation’s Centennial Exposition. When it was bought over from the Lemon Hill estate belonging to Robert Morris, one of the Declaration of Independence signatories, the 2-section park, which is divided into the East and West side by Schuylkill River, has become a refuge for Philadelphia city dwellers. Rolling hills surrounding by whispering trees, a relaxing waterfront and easily maneuverable trails, it is within easy reach of urbanites, office workers, health enthusiasts, families, and tourists alike.
What to expect:-
  • holds regular events like marathons
  • has gathering space for groups, complete with BBQ tables near a gazebo and waterfall
  • located a short distance from Forbidden Drive
  • amazing views of Philadelphia's skyscrapers
  • has bike lanes surrounded by intriguing statues
  • one of the largest parks outside of NYC
  • is pet-friendly
  • has amenities for softball, Ultimate Frisbee, Japanese tea ceremonies, outdoor concerts and pier-side fishing
  • has a Victorian-style trolley to take visitors around an art-inspired Colonial-era mansion and its manicured landscape

3. Washington Square

210 W Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 597-8787
Washington Square is the kind of location that can completely pull it off as a site history lovers, hikers, health enthusiasts, photographers and nature lovers. Originally designated as Southeast Square in 1682, it would leave even the nerdiest of history lover in wide-eyed wonder. As costumed people make their way around the park, engaging visitors with fun activities and reenacting history, the no-frills park also acts as an iconic landmark and a treasured green space in downtown Philadelphia. You don't have to spread yourself too thin touring all the different locations if time is tight. Make a detour to the neighboring Independence Hall, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, and Philadelphia’s Moon Tree and learn about the country's history along the way. If you’re looking for a quiet corner of Philly to leave the hurly-burly of big city life behind for a while, this park will hit that sweet spot.
What to expect:-
  • a no-frills, relaxing place to people-watch, read
  • a very historic park
  • there are a fountain and plagues in the middle of the park, and inspiring stops along the way from Old City
  • is home to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where thousands of POW were buried during the American Revolution
  • a great place for photography, outdoor and history enthusiasts
  • a little off-the-beaten track
  • located just a short block from Independence Hall
  • is home to the clone of Philadelphia's only Moon Tree
  • holds Junior Ranger programs for school-going children, and teen summer camps
  • it was the site of the first human flight in the Americas in 1793 by Jean Pierre Blanchard in his hot-air balloon

4. Spruce Street Harbor Park

301 S Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-2386
Accolades had been poured its way ever since it was developed as a spring-to-fall Delaware River Waterfront destination. Primarily, because of its beer garden, inaugurated events and year-round festivals. One of the best urban beachfront attractions in the state of Philadelphia, it attracted hundreds of thousands of patrons from all around the surrounding area in 2015 because of its unique floating barges, hang-free colorful handmade hammocks, games like bocce, shuffleboard, giant Jenga, ping pong and many others that seems to attract bees to flowers on the boardwalk. Entrance is free and open to the public. As you take a languid walk around the park, you can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped into a quaint corner of a Caribbean resort especially when you’re walking past (or into) converted shipping containers which are a part of an arcade. The park has in place a wetland restoration program and runs environmentally-friendly practices. It is a continuing work-in-progress that is set to be one of the biggest highlights of anyone’s trip to the City of Brotherly Love.
What to expect:-
  • Beer garden with 3 bars serving well over 15 different varieties of beers, cocktails, and wines
  • Hosts the Harbor Park festival, a new tradition that is often referred to as the ‘Summer in the City’ event
  • Has a floating restaurant and is brightly lit
  • Holds free live entertainment for people of all ages
  • Paddle boat, kayak, and swan boat rentals are available
  • Outdoor seatings available along the waterfront
  • Is ADA-compliant
  • July 4th fireworks

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