At first glance Philadelphia looks like a concrete forest, but delve a little deeper and you will find some truly amazing parks to set your kids loose in and explore. From massive slides to wading pools and forest trails, you will never be bored when you dive into the best parks for kids in Philadelphia.
Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse in Fairmont Park
Generations of Philadelphians have grown up going to what the locals call Smith Playground, which opened in 1899 specifically as a place for children to enjoy. This was a radical idea at the time, but is still important today as kids lose recess time at school and are glued to electronics.
The 100-year old Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide is a highlight for parents and kids in the park. Grab a potato sack at the bottom of the slide and run up to take your place at the top before whizzing back down at maximum speed. If you can drag yourself away, you will find swings, numerous jungle gyms, a train to climb through and even a spider web to master. The indoor playhouse, designed for children under age five, is filled with books, a climb-on train and a kid-size bridge and mini cottage. Don’t miss Smithville, at the bottom of the playhouse, which is filled with tricycles to scoot around on. Rain or shine, this is the park to check out when visiting Philadelphia.
Sister Cities Park
One of Philadelphia’s newest park spaces is already a beloved summer escape for tourists exploring Philadelphia’s many museums and locals looking for a café to enjoy while their kids splash around under the hot summer sun. There are restrooms to change into swimsuits if necessary, but most kids won’t mind just diving in before you even get their suit on. A lifeguard is on site for the wading pool, so no need to worry.
Parents should be extra mindful though while their kids play on the rocks in the lazy river above the pool, and over by the sprinklers on the opposite side of the café. The ground does get slippery with so many children running around and accidents can happen if you’re not careful. But overall, a visit to Sister Cities Park is a wonderful treat for the whole family.
Northwest Philadelphia residents like to claim Wissahickon Park for themselves, but visitors are welcome anytime. Rugged trails make it easy to forget you are even in the city. Follow Wissahickon Creek as you walk down Forbidden Drive, a gravel path that is closed to cars, making it the perfect spot to let your kids run free and explore. Mountain bikers and equestrians like to keep to the more than 50 miles of trails and anglers flock to the creek in the spring to fish for trout. Even birdwatchers love this park, always trying to spot one of the many avian residents of the park.
Schuylkill River Park
Dog owners flock to Schuylkill River Park for the Dog Run, an enclosed space featuring a doggie fountain and separate small and large dog areas, but families love it too. When the weather is warm, kids and parents alike head to the park for the Markward Playground and to swim in the O’Connor Pool. Couples can stroll the tree-lined park while kids learn to ride their bikes. Bring a soccer ball or Frisbee to enjoy the huge green spaces for an impromptu game with other park visitors. A community garden is a welcome sight in the city, reminding visitors and locals where their food comes from and what flowers and produce grow in this part of the county.
Photos by Michael W Murphy and jiwasz CC BY
Pennypack Park covers more than 1,300 acres and follows Pennypack Creek as it winds through hills, meadows and hiking paths. There are several paved and unpaved trails to enjoy with your kids, whether you are on foot or on bike. You may even see horseback riders on the trails from time to time. There are a number of colonial buildings strewn across the park, including the still working Fox Chase Farm that families shouldn’t miss. The farm is open to visitors most Saturday mornings throughout the summer, but make sure to check their website before you head out for a visit. Special events and visiting hours pop up all the time, many of which will let you learn more about the farm, animals and traditional activities like maple sugaring and sheep sheering.
Which Philly park sounds perfect for you and your family?