Escape the city in Philly’s “backyard,” while you enjoy family activities and tours involving art, wildlife and historical sights.
The original Fairmount Park is an urban green space spread out over more than 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares). The broader park system surrounding the Schuylkill River is also referred to as Fairmount Park and is double in size. The dozens of big and small parks have millions of trees, hundreds of trails and a variety of waterways, sports grounds and gardens. You can drive through the park, touring top attractions, including the zoo, sculpture gardens and museums.
During the 1876 World’s Fair, the park gained international status when millions of people from around the world visited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The Memorial Hall is one of the few Centennial Expo buildings remaining today.
Rent a bike at Boathouse Row and enjoy a scenic cycle along Kelly Drive. Imitate Sylvester Stallone in his “Rocky” pose next to his statue or browse the art-filled rooms at the massive Philadelphia Museum of Art. While at the museum, ask about tours of the historic mansions within the park.
Enjoy the much-photographed view of the city, Schuylkill River and park from the Belmont Plateau on the west bank. The many different types of natural scenery within the park are particularly striking when autumn leaves or springtime cherry blossoms add color to the landscape. Keep an eye out for sculptures; there are more than 200 works of outdoor art on display among the trees.
If you love animals, be sure to visit the Philadelphia Zoo on the west bank of the river. In the nearby Please Touch Museum, younger children can play among the many hands-on exhibits. Toddlers and older kids alike will enjoy running, climbing and sliding at the Smith Memorial Playground, which includes an awesome playhouse. This space dedicated to fun, located on the east bank of the river, is the size of six football fields.
You can drive through many areas of Fairmount Park and there are picnic spots along the way. Beware that during the warmer months West River Drive is closed to cars to make room for cyclists and pedestrians. Before your visit, check the web site for special events taking place in the park; there are hundreds each year.
Fairmount Park is located in central Philadelphia. The park system is open daily, and free parking is available throughout the various attractions.