Only open May through September, Spruce Street Harbor Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the city. Colorful LED lights change color overhead in the tree canopies make this a magical haven. Hammocks (arrive early to get one) swing below. A floating pier filled with sand, trees and nets floating over the water makes this park one of the most unique in the nation. To top it off, there are pay-as-you-go food stands that serve food and beer from local favorites like Yards Brewing Company. Water foundations to play and jump along with other free games (human chess) make for a fun date night or family-oriented hang out. It’s free and open all week.
Spruce Street Harbor Park, Columbus Blvd and Spruce Street 19106 215-922-2FUN
Located in West Philadelphia, Clark covers nine acres of gorgeous property. The park is an active hive, with drum circles and monthly flea markets, and every Saturday there is a farmer’s market where local producers and Amish trade produce, jams and other assortments. Be sure to experience a Shakespeare in the Park during summer months. There are also two playgrounds, one for smaller kids and another for toddlers a bit older.
Clark Park, 4398 Chester Ave Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-683-3679
Contrary to some, this park doesn’t just span Independence Mall. Explorers will find throughout several blocks traditional 18th-century gardens like the Bishop White Garden or the traditional rose garden on Walnut Street. Carpenter’s Hall has a nice lawn with magnolia trees and sloping banks. Scattered throughout Old City, these small gardens and green spaces make for great scenery of the historical sites and will help visitors learn about the actual history behind the areas.
Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia, PA 19106 215-965-2305
The park has several recreational areas for family and sports. There’s the Schuylkill Pocket Memorial Field complete with baseball diamond. Soccer, tennis and basketball courts are also used heavily throughout the year. Children enjoy the Markward playground, and the O’Connor Pool is popular with families during summer months. Running past the park is the Schuylkill River trail that spans all the way up to Kelly Drive past the art museum and around Boathouse Row. The views are stunning, and the Schuylkill River Park has just been listed as one of the best bike and running paths in the nation. They also have a dog park!
Schuylkill River Park, Philadelphia, PA 19103 215-683-0200
Located in the Manayunk/Roxborough area of Philadelphia, Wissahickon is a great country getaway. With beautiful stone bridges, the 1800 acre park is great for hiking with its 50 miles of rugged trails. In the summer there are free guided hikes, it’s also perfect for equestrians and mountain bikers, and definitely take a trip to Devil’s Pool with friends to watch people cannonball in. (Although visitors swim and jump into the water here, keep in mind that it’s illegal!) There are over twenty species of aquatic wildlife and creatures such as raccoons, foxes and deer in the park. The Wissahickon creek runs through a large gorge with a waterfall, a perfect area for fishing.
Wissahickon Valley Park, Valley Green Rd Philadelphia, PA 19128 215-247-0417
Fairmount is a system of 63 different parks, making it the largest green space in Philadelphia with 9200 acres. Also one of the largest urban park systems in the nation, it hosts a plethora of activities. There are barn stables, swimming pools and playgrounds for kids that create the perfect environment and escape from city life. Deep-woods hiking, off-road cycling, outdoor concerts (check out the Mann Center) and a Japanese tea house with tours add a deep feeling of a journey when visiting. There is also a Victorian-style trolley that can take travelers for a view of the Colonial-era mansions. Three environmental centers and a wildlife refuge area help teach locals–including students–about nature. Also check out Lloyd Hall which hosts indoor activities.
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA 19199 215-683-3600