Best Outdoor Activities in Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love's Top Enjoyable Outside Activities

Visiting a city doesn't mean you need to spend all of your time cooped up indoors. After a while, even the most interested tourist gets a bit stir crazy. The same goes for the locals and frequent visitors to the area. 

Fortunately, Philadelphia has a ton of great activities to enjoy outdoors, whether you end up here in the Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. Many of them also don't involve a whole lot of athletic abilities, so even if you're more of a walker there's something here for you. 

Venture over to the newest addition to the park system of Philadelphia, Dilworth Park, and enjoy the sights. Take a stroll or a jog down on Penn's Landing, rent a bike from Indego for a bit. You're also welcome to pop on a pair of roller skates and spin around the River Rink for a smile-inducing activity. Whether you're with your family, your friends, your coworkers or your date, you'll love exploring the greener side of the city. Get outdoors to see things, stay active or to get some fresh air. With so many options, it's easy to hit upon a few that interest you and your crowd. Try out one, or make it a point to include several in your visit here. 


Penn's Landing
Photo courtesy of M. Fischetti/Visit Philly

Penn's Landing, which runs along Philly's waterfront area, is the site of numerous events all year long, including cultural festivals, concerts (many of them free!), children's programs, fireworks shows and a host of other fun events. The view along the Delaware River is picturesque, and one can catch a glimpse of the Battleship New Jersey while strolling here. Attractions in the area include an international sculpture garden, Independence Seaport Museum, ships to tour, and an ice skating/roller skating rink. A ferry links Philadelphia with Camden, where you can visit the New Jersey State Aquarium, the Amphitheater, and the South Jersey Performing Arts Center, among other places.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Philadelphia's Penn's Landing and the view along the Delaware River delivers a different view of the city and a scenic escape brimming with activity.

Sharon's expert tip: Head to Penn's Landing when one of the fireworks shows is planned for a thrilling event in a pretty waterfront setting.

Read more about Penn's Landing →

Photo courtesy of J. Fusco/Visit Philly

Philadelphia's bike-sharing program is designed to help commuters of all kinds easily an affordably navigate the streets if the city. Head into Center City or take a quick trip to West Philadelphia all while enjoying the great outdoors. Indego makes getting from one point of the city to the other easier and more enjoyable than other modes of public transportation. Purchase a bike ride by the hour, or buy passes for the month depending on how often you'll be riding. With convenient pickup and drop off spots all over Philadelphia, this is a terrific option for folks looking to get from one place to another without the hassle of a car, or those simply looking to get out and ride.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This great new enhancement to the city's transportation system offers all kinds of folks the opportunity to get out and ride around.

Sharon's expert tip: Don't be afraid to hop on one of these pretty blue bikes whether you're going near or a bit farther in the city. It's affordable and fun.

Read more about Indego →

Museum District & Fairmount Park

America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and much more make the Zoo Philadelphia's leading family destination, welcoming over 1.2 million visitors a year. Philadelphia Zoo offers a revolutionary, first-in-the-world animal journey and exploration system, called Zoo360, which promises the most majestic of creatures more room to roam utilizing a campus-wide network of see-through trails. Monkeys, orangutans and big cats like lions and tigers, are on the move â€" traveling overhead through the treetops in the first three pathways of Zoo360, Treetop Trail, Great Ape Trail and Big Cat Crossing. Award-winning exhibits at Big Cat Falls, Primate Reserve, the Avian Center and KidZooU make this venue an obvious choice for those visiting the city with kids.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: What could be better than combining outdoor enjoyment with animal interactions and a chance to wander and explore and discover creatures of all kinds?

Sharon's expert tip: Be sure to check out the Zoo360 Animal Exploration Trails for an interesting and interactive animal experience.

Read more about Philadelphia Zoo →

Boathouse Row
Photo courtesy of Sharon Nolan

Boathouse Row is a historic site located on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, just north of Fairmount Water Works and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It consists of a row of 15 boathouses housing social and rowing clubs and their racing shells. Each of the boathouses has its own history, and all have addresses on both Boathouse Row and Kelly Drive (named after famous Philadelphia oarsman John B. Kelly, Jr.). Boathouses #2 through #14 are part of a group known as the Schuylkill Navy, which encompasses several other boathouses along the river. Boathouse #1 is Lloyd Hall and is the only public boathouse facility on the Row. Boathouse #15 houses the Sedgeley Club, which operates the Turtle Rock Lighthouse. The boathouses are all at least a century old, and some were built over 150 years ago.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: A visit to Philadelphia is not complete without viewing the pretty walk along the river and the lights that reflect off of the water at night.

Sharon's expert tip: Be sure to check this sight out at night when the lights viewed from the Schuylkill Expressway seem simply magical.

Read more about Boathouse Row →

Outside the city
Schuylkill River Trail
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco/Visit Philly

The Schuylkill River Trail extends from Center City, Philadelphia out to the suburbs of the city and offers folks the opportunity to walk, bike, scooter, skate, run, jog or stroll for as long as they are able to. It's scenic and safe and is great for getting out and getting some fresh air as well as working some activity into the day. Recent additions to this trail include the Schuylkill River Banks Boardwalk, which extends the area folks can travel further into Center City. Take the trail out to Valley Forge on your bike, then circle back to town for a terrific workout and time to enjoy the area in peace.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Extending for miles and miles, this trail is a very popular way to see a different side of the city and to stay active, as well.

Sharon's expert tip: Keep track of your mileage on this trail, as it's fun to see how far you can go on this picturesque walkway either by foot or on a bicycle.

Read more about Schuylkill River Trail →

Spruce Street Harbor Park
Photo courtesy of M. Fischetti for Visit Philly

Spruce Street Harbor Park is a pop-up park on Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. Offering fun amenities such as hammocks, lawn games, chairs by the water, food and drink options, music and good times to locals, visitors, friends, family and even strangers. There's so much fun to be had at this venue that all can leave friends when the night is over. Spruce Street Harbor Park is free to enter, and features sponsored Happy Hours periodically throughout the summer, along with music and special events. It's a great way to start or finish off a weekend in the city with people you care about or just by yourself.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: A pop-up park is not only hip, but it's also fun. it comes complete with food, drinks, activities and space to relax.

Sharon's expert tip: Visit here during the evening when it's pretty to view the lights on the water and the view of the bridge.

Read more about Spruce Street Harbor Park →

Spread out over half a city block, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is a prized gem of South Street. A veritable "folk art environment" created by artist Isaiah Zagar, the fully mosaicked space is a captivating labyrinth of tunnels, grottos and intricate sculptures. Colorful tiles create intricate images as well as words along the walls of the outdoor installation. Visitors can enjoy leisurely, self-guided tours or weekend tours provided by Garden Guide interpreters. Be sure to stop to appreciate the many parts and pieces of this incredibly unique walk-though art exhibition that's perfect for all ages to enjoy. Artsy without being boring, this is a wonderful activity for any day.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This artsy concoction of beauty that is the Magic Garden is like nothing you've seen before: handmade, imaginative and fun.

Sharon's expert tip: Leave plenty of time for a slow walk though these truly unique gardens, as there's so much to stop and see.

Read more about Philadelphia Magic Gardens →

Museum District & Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco for Visit Philly

When looking for the perfect romantic thing to do in Fairmount Park, nothing beats the Whispering Benches at the Smith Civil War Memorial Arch near Memorial Hall. A unique phenomenon, it works like this: simply sit at one end of the long, curved, stone bench and whisper something. The person at the other end of the wall should be able to clearly hear what has been said, making it the perfect spot to whisper sweet nothings to that special someone. The site is pretty and makes for a lovely place to sit and relax or picnic nearby. After exchanging confidences, feel free to stroll hand-in-hand along the scenic paths. Fairmount Park is also great to bike ride, walk, jog, picnic, explore, or take pictures. It's spacious, green, full of pretty wildlife, and a great place to go on your own or with people you'd like to reconnect with.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: With a wonderful expanse of green space like this one, there's certain to be a way your crowd can enjoy it to the fullest.

Sharon's expert tip: The Japanese Tea House or one of the beautiful mansions in the park are great for sightseeing, photo opportunities or a quiet walk.

Read more about Fairmount Park →

Penn's Landing
Blue Cross RiverRink
Photo courtesy of J. Fusco/Visit Philly

Blue Cross River Rink is home to WinterFest as well as SummerFest and offers visitors of all ages a great way to enjoy some outdoor time while in the city. Food, beverages, fun and space to play makes this venue a great choice no matter what time of the year you visit. During warmer months, pop on a pair of roller skates (available for rent here) and try your hand at skating. Laughter and silliness are sure to ensue as you and your companions try to master this fun sport. If you're here during the colder months, the rink is available for ice skating and the lodge here is a great break no matter when you're here.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: What could be more fun than skating the day away? It's perfect for friends, relatives, date night or a fun activity with kids.

Sharon's expert tip: Don't just sit and watch when you're here, hop up and take part in the fun for a truly memorable time.

Read more about Blue Cross RiverRink →

Dilworth Park
Photo courtesy of E. Frizzelle/Visit Philly

Philadelphia's newest green space, this park is a lovely addition to the City Hall area. Filled with plenty of greenery and places to relax and sit, the space is host to a number of special events and fun family gathering opportunities throughout the year. During the warmer months, bring your lunch and enjoy people-watching or simply get a breath of fresh air at one of the small brightly-colored tables here. Kids, as well as kids-at-heart, will enjoy cooling off in the sprinklers in the summer months. Movie screenings and other special events are scheduled here during evening hours in nicer weather, so watch for those and get out and enjoy this super new park. During winter, ice skate or enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate at the cafe. It's a terrific place to stop and rest or enjoy an event or two.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This centrally-located park offers seating, as well as great activities for all ages in both winter as well as summer.

Sharon's expert tip: Take some time to visit Love Park or the huge clothespin structure while you're here, as both of which are nearby.

Read more about Dilworth Park →


Meet Sharon Nolan

Sharon is a native to the Philadelphia area, but loves to wander from its familiar borders. She has traveled to more than 30 countries, trekked five continents, ventured out with family,...  More About Sharon