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When William Penn first established Philadelphia, he designed it to be a “greene countrie town,” a city with parks integrated into its layout. Penn himself added five city squares for people to use specifically as outdoor park spaces, and these squares are still in use today.
Philadelphia has never abandoned the original vision of a being green countrie town. Today, Philly has countless parks, waterfront trails, wildlife preserves, gardens and historical sites to explore. If you’re looking to live in a city with plenty of opportunities to get into nature, Philadelphia may be the perfect city for you.
Here’s a list of our 10 favorite Philly parks and outdoor spaces.
One of the most popular parks in Philadelphia is Independence National Historical Park, which is fitting for a city known as the birthplace of the United States. This historical park is best known for Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center, but it also includes a visitor center, Congress Hall, the National Constitution Center, the Benjamin Franklin Museum and more.
The park isn’t just popular for its historical value — you can also explore many of its surrounding outdoor spaces. Washington Square, one of the five original city squares planned by Penn, has plenty of green space and is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution. Scattered throughout the park are the Magnolia Garden and Rose Garden, both perfect for an afternoon stroll in the summer.
Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, Independence National Historical Park is for you.
For the sports enthusiasts of Philadelphia, Penn Park is the perfect spot to visit. The park is sandwiched between the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, which runs the park, and the picturesque Schuylkill River. Visitors can play and picnic in open spaces, stroll down walking trails and watch sports tournaments and events.
Penn Park also has plenty of athletic facilities. While mainly for the use of the University of Pennsylvania, there are some facilities the public can use for free or with a reservation. Penn Park is a great place for Philadelphia residents to unwind and enjoy outdoor activities.
Another of Penn’s original five public squares, Logan Square, or Logan Circle, sits on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and features the majestic Swann Memorial Fountain, surrounded by shady areas and sidewalks.
Logan Square is a beautiful spot to visit in its own right and is also close to many other famous Philadelphia attractions. Find the Franklin Institute, LOVE Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and plenty more just a short walk from Logan Square.
The Schuylkill River Trail is a 10- to 12-foot wide trail that starts in Center City Philadelphia and runs for 30 miles, taking runners and bikers through Valley Forge National Historical Park to Parker Ford, Pennsylvania. For Philadelphia residents, the Schuylkill River Trail is a wonderful place to bike, run or walk by the river as a respite from city life.
A visit to the Schuylkill River Trail would be incomplete without exploring the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, a 15-foot-wide boardwalk in Philadelphia that takes visitors along the banks of the river and provides beautiful views of the Philadelphia skyline.
With over 2,000 acres of park space, Fairmount Park is one of the best parks in Philadelphia. The park is full of relaxing walking paths, off-road biking trails and areas for hiking and horseback riding with open spaces for games and picnics, fountains, piers and lakeside locations for fishing.
The park also contains two outdoor concert venues, opportunities to tour colonial mansions, sculptures and even the Philadelphia Zoo, the first zoo in America.
Philadelphia’s “park in the sky,” Cira Green, is a must-see destination in Center City. Located on top of an 11-story building, 95 feet in the air, this rooftop park is the perfect place to enjoy nature while seeing amazing views of the surrounding city. While you’re there, you can grab snacks from its restaurant, Sunset Social, and enjoy the many events the park hosts, such as morning yoga or evening big-screen movies.
With over 20 acres of parks, the Navy Yard is a fantastic place for visitors to enjoy the great outdoors. The 5-acre Central Green has a running track, bocce courts, table tennis, a hammock grove and more, and the 2.5-acre Crescent Park has beautiful walking paths and a putting green. Navy Yard is ideal for fitness lovers who want to exercise in nature.
Birdwatchers across Pennsylvania flock to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum for the over 300 species of birds that have been recorded in the park. Its 10 miles of trails provide beautiful scenery for walkers, joggers and bicyclists, and the marshes and canoe ramp provide opportunities for Philly dwellers to get out on the water.
Rittenhouse Square is another of Penn’s five original parks, and it’s still popular today. The well-maintained park has benches, shady spaces, a reflecting pool, sculptures, beautiful gardens and more, making it a breath of fresh air in the middle of Center City. The park hosts events year-round, from a spring festival to Christmas celebrations, so whether you’re a fan of quiet beauty or fun community events, Rittenhouse Square has something to offer you!
With 275 acres of natural beauty, Benjamin Rush State Park is the perfect spot to escape the bustle of the city. Aside from hiking trails and bike paths, most of the park is undeveloped, giving the entire park a more natural feel.
For fans of gardening, Benjamin Rush State Park has one of the largest community gardens in the area. If you want to take part in the garden, you can rent a plot to grow your favorite plants. Elsewhere in the park, a large open area is dedicated to flying radio-controlled model airplanes, where no trees or city buildings will get in your way.
If you love city life but don’t want to sacrifice the opportunity to enjoy nature, Philadelphia is the perfect city for you. The 10 parks listed above have plenty of trails and attractions to keep any nature lover busy, and there are countless other Philadelphia parks and recreation centers you can enjoy. If you want to make your home in Philadelphia, contact us at Streamline today!