The city of Philadelphia boasts a large number of parks situated throughout its many neighborhoods. These parks are all unique destinations and range from sprawling areas, with plenty of wooded areas and scenic trails, to compact downtown spots that take up the space of a city block. Whether urban and busy, or rural and somewhat secluded, these parks are all scenic, interesting, and fun places to visit.
You’ll find the lively and picturesque Rittenhouse Square park in the middle of the city’s posh center city neighborhood of the same name. As you meander around the paved diagonal and circular walkways, you’ll admire trees, flowers, plants, and plenty of green, grassy spaces for sunbathing. There are also several beautiful fountains and sculptures here. In the warmer weather, be sure to snag a spot on one of the many benches that line the pathways—you’ll find it’s a great place to enjoy a snack, read a book, or people-watch.
Valley Forge National Park
Just outside of Philadelphia is the historic Valley Forge National Historical Park, filled with many fascinating sites associated with the Revolutionary War. It’s famous for being General George Washington and the Continental Army’s base during the legendary winter of 1777. This park is lovely—with rolling hills, wooded areas, and sprawling meadows. It attracts over a million visitors annually with many monuments, historical sites, and nearly 30 miles of picturesque trails. You can book a tour in advance or do a self-guided visit to this must-see destination.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
If relaxing along the river sounds like an idyllic way to spend the day (or evening), check out Philadelphia’s Spruce Street Harbor Park in the summer. Situated on the Delaware River in Philadelphia’s scenic Penn’s Landing area, Spruce Street Harbor Park offers great views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the city skyline. The park is known for over 50 colorful hammocks, floating gardens, and a boardwalk along the riverfront (and plenty of things to do, too!). Visitors to this breezy and laid-back destination can also enjoy some casual fare and beverages at the on-site café.
On the western side of Philadelphia’s center city (in the Grey’s Ferry neighborhood) is an exceptional park that stretches along the Schuylkill river, called Schuylkill Banks. Just steps away from the hustle and bustle of University City, this park is home to the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail that offers solitude, several walking trails, and scenic spots to enjoy birdwatching and pretty views of the river. Locals are often found running, picnicking, and soaking in the natural beauty. Before you go, check out the website for information about events, such as yoga, kayaking, bicycling, and fishing. If you stroll along the trails, you’ll also find a small pocket skateboard park tucked away under the Gray’s Ferry bridge and a second, larger one further along at Paine’s Park near the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Directly across the street from the Museum of the American Revolution, and one block from Independence Hall, Washington Square is a tiny oasis that's an ideal spot for a short stroll. This park was created by William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia, who included several city parks as part of his overall vision. Today, it’s also home to the “Tomb of the Unknown soldiers” memorial, dedicated to George Washington and the soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Washington Square Park is an ideal spot to take a sightseeing break or enjoy a soft pretzel, as it has plenty of benches, a pretty fountain, and over 60 species of beautiful trees.
At 2,000 acres, Fairmount Park is the largest park in Philadelphia and a major destination for visitors and locals throughout the year. This beautiful location along the Schuylkill river encompasses a substantial number of sites, museums, and venues. And not surprisingly, there’s something for everyone here…if you want to be active and stay outdoors, you can go on a hike, ride horses and enjoy some off-road biking. Kids love the playgrounds here, too. If you prefer more low-key activities, you can attend a tea ceremony at Shofuso Japanese house and garden, tour one of several historic mansions, or attend an outdoor concert.
Wissahickon Valley Park
In Northwest Philadelphia, the lush Wissahickon Valley Park attracts visitors year-round with over 2,000 acres of natural beauty. With over 50 miles of wooded hiking trails, it’s an ideal destination for those who wish to enjoy the outdoors without driving far from the city. Visitors here can explore by hiking on rugged pathways, horseback riding, and bicycling. Be sure to plan a leisurely visit here, as there are many historical spots to admire, including quaint bridges, roadhouses, and famous sites such as the Monastery Mansion complex, Forbidden Drive, and Hermit’s Cave.
In South Philadelphia, you'll feel like a resident when you wander through Marconi Plaza, a green space that occupies several blocks surrounded by a bustling neighborhood. Named to honor the famous Italian Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, this neighborhood spot stretches to both sides of Broad Street (the city’s longest avenue) and grassy areas, sculptures, playgrounds, reflecting pools, an abundance of seating, and includes basketball and bocce ball courts.
Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historic Park is located in Philadelphia’s Old City and adjacent to Independence Hall. Home to the Liberty Bell, and The National Constitution Center (to the north), Independence Hall National Historic Park is a major Philly destination that’s not to be missed. Although it’s in an urban location, this park spans over 50 acres, stretches across several blocks, and includes several Revolutionary War sites. (There’s also trees, flowers, benches, and green spaces for relaxing). And if there are too many tourists in line to see the Liberty Bell, wait until dark, and you view the bell perfectly at night from its glass enclosure in the park.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park
In South Philadelphia, FDR Park is a sprawling oasis with lakes, fields, walkways, and striking historical sites, including the 20,000 square foot American Swedish Historical Museum, the oldest in America. In addition, visitors can rent a boat on the lake or participate in an outdoor yoga class. It’s also considered a prime spot for birdwatching as it’s known to be a habitat for over 200 species. Sports enthusiasts love the golf course, many tennis courts, and ball fields, including a rugby field. It’s also home to the world’s most famous (DIY) skateboard park that attracts professionals from around the globe.