When founder William Penn first drew up the plans for Philadelphia, he envisioned a “Greene Country Towne,” with five squares anchoring the city’s neighborhoods. His legacy is still visible today as visitors stroll through Washington Square, have a picnic at Rittenhouse Square or enjoy Philadelphia’s many other pocket parks and urban oases. In fact, with the largest city-owned urban park system in the world, Philadelphia is the greenest city in America. And, during the summer months, even more of Philadelphia’s public spaces are transformed into picturesque pop-up parks, offering places to cool off, relax and unwind.
Philadelphia’s Top Parks
Fairmount Park is one of the nation’s largest urban green spaces—it’s a 10,000 acre park system made up of 63 individual parks that host 200 historic buildings. Fairmount Park also presents more public art than any other city. With stunning trails along the Schuylkill River and Boathouse Row, as well as an abundance of gardens (such as the Azalea Garden), it’s a side of Philadelphia every visitor should enjoy.
A lovely gem in the heart of Philadelphia, Rittenhouse Square is a prime spot for relaxing and people-watching – and the perfect place for a picnic when the weather’s nice. Rittenhouse Row, one of Philadelphia’s premier shopping districts, is located just steps away along Walnut Street.
Just steps from Independence Hall, get away from the hustle and bustle in relaxed Washington Square. Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, which was erected in 1954 in honor of the many Colonial soldiers buried there. Washington Square is also home to one of Stuart Roosa’s Moon trees, planted from seeds he brought to the moon on the Apollo XIV mission. It is a sycamore tree that was planted to mark America’s bicentennial.
Another one of Penn’s original five squares, today Franklin Square is home to family entertainment – take a ride on the Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel, putt around the city on the area’s most unique attraction, a Philadelphia-themed miniature golf course, or let the kids play at two state-of-the-art playgrounds!
Also an original Penn square, Dilworth Park is located in the shadow of City Hall, and recently underwent extensive renovations, including the addition of a beautiful water feature – perfect for kids who need a place to cool off.
2016 Pop-Up Parks
Spruce Street Harbor Park
May 22 to Sept. 25, 2016, delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/spruce-street-harbor-park
Located in the Marina at Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River, picturesque Spruce Street Harbor Park consists of three landscaped barges, a net lounge and floating gardens. More than 50 colorful handmade hammocks are strung throughout the park to create a relaxing place to spend summer days and nights, and visitors can also cool off with a quick splash in one of the park’s fountains. Waterfront bocce and shuffleboard courts, plus life-sized chess and Connect Four, as well as food and drinks from popular Philly restaurants, make it is easy to spend an afternoon (or a whole day!) relaxing in this seasonal park.
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest
May 27 to Sept. 5, 2016, delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/blue-cross-riverrink-summerfest
Skate at Philadelphia’s first and only outdoor roller skating rink, also located on the beautiful Delaware River with a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest also features a 200-seat, air-conditioned space with picnic tables and beach-themed décor, plus a 9-hole mini-golf course.
July 15 to Aug. 21, 2016, theovalphl.org
Located in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Oval is eight acres of public space located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Each year, the space is transformed into an urban oasis with interactive games, special events, live music, movie nights, performances and workshops, as well as a rotating line-up of food trucks and a beautiful beer garden.
To learn more about Philadelphia’s parks and outdoor activities for visitors, visit discoverPHL.com/visit/outdoors.