While most people visiting Philadelphia may think of indoor attractions such as the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, Philadelphia actually offers a ton of outdoor activities too.
Philadelphia outdoor activities for kids and teens to enjoy with grownups range from scavenger hunts, hiking, skating, nature classes, biking and more.
While going to Saint Joseph’s University as an undergrad, I learned that there were so many outdoor attractions that Philadelphia had to offer such as the zoo, concerts, College Day and outdoor dining. As I grew older, I found that Philadelphia had other places that I had still not discovered and these places were truly unique.
My family has now had lots of fun exploring Philadelphia outdoor activities. We learned that Philadelphia is also America’s Garden Capital with a fun and free passport program to help families visit some of its gardens. One of our favorite times to visit Philadelphia is in July. What better way is there to celebrate our independence than by visiting Philadelphia?
Read on to find out about all of the Philadelphia outdoor activities for kids and teens that we have visited so far. We think you may find some new ones to enjoy with your family as well.
10 Great Philadelphia Outdoor Activities for Kids and Teens
Do a scavenger hunt at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens
When I first heard about the Philadelphia Magic Gardens as a Philadelphia outdoor activity to consider I knew I had to visit. The gardens were truly amazing. The entire gardens are basically a labyrinth of various art pieces including sculptures, mosaics, ironwork, recycled art, and more. They surround you so you feel enveloped in some magical new world.
If bringing kids to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens they will love doing the scavenger hunt to find various art pieces.
The tickets are currently timed which is nice since it is not overcrowded as you meander. There is an indoor section that we did not enter but the outdoor section was large enough that you could spend your entire time there.
Be aware that if you are bringing a baby or toddler to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens it may be more difficult to go through since there are stairs and narrow passageways. Most of it is not accessible and it is recommended people do not bring strollers with them. I was still able to walk through with my 2 year old but we had to make sure to hold hands and walk slowly on the stairs.
More About Philadelphia Magic Gardens
- As of May 11, 2022: tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students with ID, military, and seniors, $8 for ages 6 to 12, and Free for 5 and under. Tickets must be booked online on their website.
- The Gardens are open from 11 am to 6 pm Wednesdays to Mondays.
- Every 2nd Sunday of the month between noon and 4 pm there are PECO Family Jams programs that involve making art and are free with admission. For more details visit PECO Family Jams – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (phillymagicgardens.org).
- The closest parking is street parking along South Street and Bainbridge but there are also some garages that are not too far away.
- Kid-friendly dogs and service animals are welcome as long as they are on a leash.
- If you are hungry afterward the PHS Pop-Up Horticultural Gardens is on South Street and only a few blocks away.
- Read their Covid policies.
Lay in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park
One thing we enjoy doing once the weather warms up is visiting Spruce Street Harbor Park. It is a great place for adults or families to visit. There is a wide variety of seating choices that kids love to try such as hammocks and Adirondack chairs.
Lots of restaurants at Spruce Street Harbor Park have outdoor dining choices for people to try. Adults may enjoy the floating barges in the beer garden and the Barge Bar Oasis with net lounging areas above the water.
Spruce Street Harbor Park has been called one of the best urban beaches in America and it is quicker for some people in New Jersey to visit than the Jersey Shore.
The boardwalk area has lots of outdoor games along with it such as cornhole. Our kids love playing skeeball at the arcade.
Spruce Street Harbor Park is open from May 26, 2022, to September 26, 2022. This year there will also be technicolor lights as well as a light show. On Saturday afternoons there are vendors selling their wares. We often visit on Sunday since they have family events such as a storytime or outdoor games that engage the kids in playing.
More about Spruce Street Harbor Park
Go skating at Dilworth Park
Dilworth Park is located on the west side of City Hall and has many amenities such as outdoor dining, outdoor seating on the Albert M. Greenfield Lawn, and historical informational signs along the walkway.
There is the Dilworth Park Cafe, Starbucks Kiosk, and Air Grille Garden (which has a pop-up beer garden). Kids really enjoy the outdoor work of art called Pulse, where fountains spring up from the ground.
The main attraction that draws people to Dilworth Park is the large skating rink. It is a roller rink during the warmer months and in the winter it transforms into an ice skating rink.
Dilworth Park is open from 11 am to 8:45 pm on Mondays to Thursdays. It is open from 11 am to 11:15 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
As of May 11, 2022, tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for kids 10 and under. Skate rental is $5. There is $5 off of admission for matinee skating between 11 am and 5 pm.
Dilworth Park hosts many events due to its prime location and amenities. They have Storytime in the Wintergarden during the winter. In warmer weather, they have events such as an outdoor marketplace, zumba, themed skating events, and more.
After you are done checking out Dilworth Park you may want to check out one of the other Center City District-managed parks including the Sister Cities Park, John F. Collins Park, and Cret Park. We visited the park on July 3rd and saw lots of activities there such as vendors and cultural performances.
More about Dilworth Park
- See details about the Rothman Roller Rink.
- See events at all of the Center City District Managed Parks.
- Review their outdoor dining hours.
- View the Spring at Dilworth Park brochure.
Take a stroll under the Cherry Blossoms in Fairmount Park
While many think of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. when thinking of where to see blossoms there are actually many Cherry Blossom trees that are closer to New Jersey.
Fairmount Park is truly spectacular in the spring. There are a variety of different cherry trees there that form a beautiful archway of blossoms for people to walk through. They are scattered around the park and there is plenty of room for many people to enjoy them and also get some gorgeous pictures with them.
If your kids enjoy trails, Fairmount Park is also full of these which have changing topography and various historical facts along the path. Our kids also loved exploring some of the small gardens like the Penn State Coop Extension which holds many pollinator plants to attract butterflies and the Edible Demonstration Garden.
Visit the Fairmount Park website for more information.
Visit a Japanese Teahouse
As far as Philadelphia outdoor activities, teenagers and older kids may enjoy the Shofuso Japanese Tea House. I visited on a high school field trip and it was amazing to see the architecture and the open-air formation of the house.
The landscaping at Shofuso Japanese Tea House is also beautiful and a great place to take some photos. If you’re interested in having those Instagram-worthy pictures be sure to wear some nice clothes when visiting.
The Shofuso Japanese Tea House offers special events such as Japanese tea ceremonies. It is located within Fairmount Park.
Visit the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center page for more information.
The Shofuso Japanese Tea House is a part of America’s Garden Capital program.
Canoe through the Freshwater Tidal Marsh at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge has lots of trails that are fun to walk around on and make for more fun Philadelphia outdoor activities. We did the wildlife loop which included the boardwalk loop. My 2 and 5 year old loved seeing the plethora of deer, red-eared sliders, ospreys, eagles, blue herons, egrets, and ducks. Bringing binoculars is a must.
There is a viewing platform on the boardwalk and many other things to see on the trail as well. Two-thirds of the trail was in the shade and there were a couple of benches along the way. The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge offers kid-friendly events on the weekends such as Nature Tots for 3 to 5 year olds.
Teenagers, visiting John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, would likely enjoy the Kayaking Discovery course my husband and I took through L.L. Bean.
About the L.L. Bean Kayaking Discovery course
These are 1.5-hour courses offered from May to October. This was a great way to get close to birds and turtles in the water. L.L. Bean instructors taught everything people needed to know about how to navigate the tidal marsh and paddle in a kayak.
L.L. Bean also has custom kayaking adventures, fall foliage tours, and guided birding kayak tours. On our trip, one of the instructors was able to tell us a lot about the birds and plants we were seeing along our route.
L.L. Bean offers archery occasionally at the refuge and other events such as Frog and Bird Walks.
Learn more about kayaking in Philadelphia with L.L. Bean.
Take a canopy walk amongst the trees at the Morris Arboretum
Our friends generously gave us their Morris Arboretum tickets when they were unable to visit this arboretum. It was an amazing place to visit in the fall. There was an abundance of beautiful colorful leaves surrounding us.
My favorite part of the Morris Arboretum was a canopy walk where you climbed to the top of a treehouse. There were a couple of different walkways through the trees. At one end there was a larger-than-life bird’s nest with eggs that my kids loved playing in. At the other end, there was a hammock-like netting, you could see the ground and leaves below as well as many birds such as hawks.
The rose garden was also a fun place for our kids to run around and play tag throughout the maze. There was a swan pond and Japanese Hill and Water garden that was beautifully landscaped.
We found a great place to eat our lunch near the log cabin. Although our visit was cut short due to a thunderstorm we had a gala time and look forward to returning again to explore the rest of the grounds.
To visit, tickets need to be purchased beforehand. Find out more details about the Morris Arboretum and purchase tickets at their website.
Morris Arboretum is a part of America’s Garden Capital program.
Get enveloped in flowers at Bartram’s Garden
Bartram’s Garden is another great garden to visit for Philadelphia outdoor activities for kids since they are almost always holding events for kids of all ages. They often hold festivals as well.
We had a great time at a Bee Festival once learning about beekeeping, honey, playing bee-related kid games, making antennae, and more.
Bartram’s Garden itself is beautifully manicured and filled with a variety of flowers, many of which are named. As you walk further back towards the water at Bartram’s there is a trail and it is more wooded. It is fun to walk along the trail until you reach the water and see some great skyline views. There are often birds and other animals such as beavers.
View more upcoming events at Bartram’s Garden. This summer they are having lots of new biking-related events.
Bartram’s Garden is a part of the America’s Garden Capital program.
Take a class at Pennypack Environmental Center
Pennypack Environmental Center is a great place to take an educational class as part of your Philadelphia outdoor activities.
We have mostly enjoyed their Explorer and Homeschool Programs in the past. Their instructors are excellent and always teach me things about the topic of the class as well. The classes are always fun with different activities each time such as a tree scavenger hunt, a bug catching class, an Easter egg hike, or holding large nets to catch butterflies. The classes often involve book recommendations, a craft, and various things the teachers show the kids as well.
If going on your own to Pennypack Environmental Center it can still be fun since there are lots of bird feeders outside the center which allow you to see a boatload of birds and squirrels.
We have done two different hikes at Pennypack Environmental Center so far by ourselves. One led more through a meadow area with many birds and butterflies and another was much steeper and a lot of fun with some spectacular views in the fall that really made us feel as if we were far away from Philly.
Parking is also free and easy at Pennypack Environmental Center in a small parking lot. Visiting the environmental center is free and their programs are inexpensive.
Learn more about the Environmental Center and upcoming events through their Facebook page.
Watch the tigers roam through the Philadelphia Zoo
Zoos are a great way for people to foster a connection to animals they would otherwise be unable to understand. As an undergraduate, my animal behavior group studied the interactions of the golden lion tamarins for an hour each week to try and understand their social hierarchy. Visiting the Philadelphia Zoo is one of our editor’s favorite Philadelphia outdoor activities for kids and teens. She’s been visiting since her kids were toddlers. They are now teenagers.
The Philadelphia Zoo has many more animals compared to other zoos, with over 1300 animals. Some of my favorite animals to see are the orangutans, after watching Dunston Checks In, where a little boy becomes friends with an orangutan and tries to hide him in a hotel. After this, I immediately wanted my own orangutan to hide inside of hotel laundry chutes. The way orangutans interact with their young is also very sweet since they cradle and rock their young in their arms.
My daughter loves watching the penguins which visitors can see swimming underwater as well as above ground with their exhibit. She now wants to go to Antarctica for her next birthday to see them since the penguin chicks hatch in January. She is also excited that it will be summer in Antarctica when she goes since normally her birthday is in the winter over here.
My kids loved the Philadelphia Zoo carousel with uniquely-carved zoo animals they could ride, which was $4 a person. If going with young kids I would recommend a stroller even if they are good at walking since the zoo is large and they will likely want to visit a few of the animals multiple times.
Make sure to look up while visiting the Philadelphia Zoo. With Zoo360 animals have even more space to roam with a network of mesh trails above visitors’ heads. Tigers, monkeys, gorillas, you never know what you might see in the overhead trails.
There is also a new NatureBlazer wristband we have not had a chance to try yet for kids over 4 where each wristband is $10. Kids can complete a Nature Blazer Scavenger Hunt with a smart compass, trivia questions, and more while going around the zoo.
Be aware that the birds have been moved indoors and the McNeil Avian Center is currently closed due to the recent strain of avian flu (May 2022).
More about the Philadelphia Zoo
- Read more about the Philadelphia Zoo from our previous articles.
- Jenn will add.
- See the link before for pricing information and to make an advanced reservation which is needed for zoo entry. Kids under 2 are free and parking is $17.
- Make a zoo reservation.
- Visit their website for hours, directions and parking go here.
- Meet the zoo animals online.
- Philadelphia Zoo is a part of America’s Garden Capital program.
MORE Phantastic Philadelphia Outdoor Activities for Kids, Teens, and Families
See the goats at Awbury Farm and the Secret Garden at Awbury Arboretum
Awbury Arboretum is located in Germantown and it is an amazing place to take young children. Admission is free. My children loved running through some of the wildflowers outside of the Arboretum.
Awbury Arboretum has a Secret Garden with high walls that looks like something straight out of a story. In different portions of the garden, there is playground equipment. My kids loved finding a playground made out of natural materials. This is known as Awbury’s Adventure Woods and it consists of 3 of its 56 acres.
When walking you will likely pass the Francis Cope House which is mostly used for social events but it occasionally has classes. The landscaping outside is beautiful in the spring with its tulips.
About Awbury Farm
Another place that people should visit for Philadelphia outdoor activities with their children is the Awbury Farm. It is located a little further along the same road as the Arboretum. From May 1, 2022, until October 30, 2022, from 1 to 4 pm they have Sunday Fun Days.
There are gardening workshops, goats, chickens to see, and more. When we visited we saw kids enjoying the goats, cats, and people working in the community garden.
- View Adventure Woods hours.
- Read information about Sunday Fun Days.
- Awbury Farm is a part of America’s Garden Capital program.
See an outdoor concert at The Mann
The Mann is located in West Philadelphia within Fairmount Park. Be prepared to hear the Fresh Prince theme song sung while you are there. The Skyline Stage is completely open air with no seats for their performances.
There is also the TD Pavilion at The Mann. This one has seats and is a little more enclosed but there is lawn seating available for their shows that is completely outdoors. While they have lots of great bands coming through there are also usually some options of things younger kids may be able to see as well. This summer these include Encanto: The Sing-Along Film Concert, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert with the Philly Pops, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert with the Philadelphia Concert.
Learn more about The Mann’s outdoor activities in Philadelphia
- See a map of the Mann and do a Virtual Tour of the TD Pavilion stage at The Mann website.
- View their upcoming events at Events | the Mann. (manncenter.org).
- Many of their events require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 (at least 2 weeks after final dose) or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the event for entry. Be sure to check out their Health & Safety Guidelines | the Mann. (manncenter.org) as well as view the page for the individual event you are planning to see before you purchase a ticket.
Step into a giant board game
The Board Game Art Park is a lesser-known destination for outdoor activities in Philadelphia. It is quick to walk through on your way to other places. It is filled with giant pieces from different games and you can pretend that you are playing the games (similar to Wizard’s Chess in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).
My roommates and I went there in college and we had a good time taking some funny pictures. My husband had also gone with his bandmates in college and they had taken some great photos as well. Our favorite spots for hilarious pictures are the falling dominoes and the wheelbarrow Monopoly piece.
Board Game Art Park is located at N 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Philadelphia.
Eat at a pop-up beer garden
While many people may not associate a beer garden with kids they are actually a great dining option, especially given the pandemic. Drinks are not required to be purchased and they usually have some good food options that are not too pricey. Beer gardens are also outdoors and enclosed which helps you keep tabs on your kids easily while giving them some freedom to roam around a little bit.
Parks on Tap
One we visited last year was Parks on Tap which was located within Fairmount Park. They had set up two different beer gardens amongst the blossoms with lots of different types of seating and times that people could make reservations for as well. This is a traveling beer garden so be sure to check out their website to see where they will be next. I have seen that they have gone to other locations as well such as Fairmount Water Works.
PHS Pop-Up Garden on South Street
Another place we loved to dine was at the PHS Pop-Up Garden on South Street. This was located close to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. It is a fully enclosed dining area outdoors with colorful plants surrounding you as well as fun lighting, music playing, and two bar areas.
Metered parking was easily found on the street right in front of the location. It was not too crowded considering it was a weekend at lunchtime when we went. There were also nearby paid parking lots.
The PHS Pop-Up Garden definitely gives off a fun summer vibe. Ordering can also be contactless via QR codes at the tables. It is open seasonally (mostly in the Spring and Summer). They also allow pets on a leash.
See the crew teams compete along Boathouse Row
Boathouse Row is a series of boathouses out of which various colleges row. A few of the college crew teams also row out of boathouses a little further down from the row such as Temple and Saint Joseph’s University. Some of my friends in undergrad were on the crew team. They were very dedicated to practicing and would often be out rowing early in the mornings.
It is beautiful to drive past Boathouse Row at night since the houses are decorated with colorful lights that are reflected on the water. If visitors go for a walk there early in the day people can often see high school and college crew teams competing in competitions. We were fortunate enough to be able to see my nephew competing in a competition. It was fun to be out with everyone along the Schuylkill, sipping warm drinks and noshing on snacks while cheering on the various teams.
Play some outdoor games at the Oval+
A few years ago we were walking along Benjamin Franklin Parkway and stumbled across this incredible pop-up space, the Oval+. There were misting stations, a giant outdoor sandbox, shaded seating, food trucks, a beer garden, outdoor games for teenagers, outdoor programming for younger children, string lights, outdoor music, and more.
It was amazing to see people who had previously been walking in a rush throughout the city suddenly seem laid back and carefree. While there is no word yet on if it will be back this July, keep a lookout on the Oval+ Facebook page to see if it will return.
Keep checking in with this post for new ideas. Every time I think we’ve listed all of the possible Philadelphia outdoor activities for kids and teens, we think of a few more. I know this list will keep growing.
What other Philadelphia outdoor activities and attractions would you add to this list? Would you like more ideas for outdoor activities? Visit our guide to New Jersey Outdoor Activities for Kids and Teens.