Explore Philadelphia Outdoors: 5 Places To Connect With Nature

From lush green parks to scenic trails, Philadelphia offers endless ways to relish in nature
Philadelphia skyline
Philadelphia skylineN. Lang

Pennysylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia, swaggers a rich history forever archived in its architecture and inviting outdoor spaces where people can get a respite from everyday monotony. The megalopolis is flanked by two rivers, the Schuylkill and Delaware, along with an urban landscape full of colonial and modern architecture. Philadelphia has served as the backdrop for many films, including “Rocky” (1976), which canonised the Philadelphia Museum of Art in its iconic scene of Rocky’s liberating run-up to the building.

Philadelphia Museum
Philadelphia MuseumScott Spitzer

Albeit a modern megalopolis, Philadelphia is characterised by a diverse variety of flora and fauna in its many zoos, parks and nature trails. Explore five outdoor places to get in touch with where nature resides in the city.

Fairmount Park
Fairmount ParkShutterstock

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. It boasts miles of trails, scenic landscapes, and heritage houses. The place is filled with 63 individual parks, over 200 buildings, a great collection of public art as well as the country’s first zoo, among other things. History buffs will appreciate the many 18th and 19th-century houses scattered across the park. These houses once served as summer retreats for wealthy Philadelphia locals. Explorers will also find the Shofuso Japanese House, a replica of a traditional 17th-century Japanese home in West Fairmount Park. It has a pond garden, koi pond, and a tea garden with a traditional tea house.

Shofuso House
Shofuso HouseKyle Huff

Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Digital Guide is a helpful tool which can help your exploration of the park.

Schuylkill River Trail
Schuylkill River TrailDiana De Lorenzi

Schuylkill River Trail

Deemed one of the top river walks in the US, the Schuylkill River Trail, which cuts through the city, is popular with bikers, runners, and walkers. The trail passes through the Manayunk Towpath, Kelly Drive, Boathouse Row and the Schuylkill Banks. Ambitious cyclists can continue to the trail 25 miles west to Valley Forge National Historical Park, a notable Revolutionary War encampment site.

Trail walkers can witness the evidence of several centuries of industrial development, canal navigation, railroad transportation, quarrying of limestone and iron ore, and the production of iron and steel along its path.

Delaware River
Delaware RiverShutterstock

Delaware River Trail

A scenic multimodal trail that stretches along Philadelphia’s Central Delaware River Waterfront, the Delaware River Trail, runs 5.3 km from Pier 70 in South Philadelphia to Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown, including interim trail segments between Tasker Street and Washington Avenue. It enhances accessibility to various businesses, residences, and DRWC-operated public attractions such as Spruce Street Harbor Park, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, Winterfest, and Cherry Street Pier.

The special features of the Trail include two miles of curb-separated, bi-directional asphalt bike path, solar-powered pedestrian light poles, and landscaped planting beds which include hundreds of new trees and beautiful seasonal shrubs.

Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historical ParkShutterstock

Independence National Historical Park

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, the Independence National Historical Park, is a significant site stretched over about 55 acres. It commemorates the various landmarks and buildings associated with the foundation of the US and the American Revolution. Often referred to as “the most historic square mile in America,” it is a showcases iconic architecture.

Among the most notable buildings, the Independence Hall Liberty, Bell Center, Congress Hall, and the Franklin Court are the most prominent.

View near Blue Cross
View near Blue CrossShutterstock

Blue Cross RiverRink

The Blue Cross RiverRink is an outdoor roller skating rink which has gained a traditional value now going on annually for 29 seasons. Located at the Delaware River Waterfront, the rink invites visitors for a chance to indulge in flights of fancy under thousands of sparkling lights in a winter wonderland. The place is a top destination for anyone looking to rekindle family traditions. The festival includes a plethora of carnival food and snacks, various games to play, and decent lighting and sound.

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