Philly Summer Fun in the Sun: Our Favorite Kid-Friendly Outdoor Attractions
Go play outside! These hotspots are perfect for outdoor family fun.
Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. But look outside, the sun is shining! It will be summer before you know it, and there are some amazing spots that Philly has added and revitalized over the past few years to make our summers great! Better yet, there are a few more to look forward to as we get deeper into summer!
101 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia
Whether you’re ice skating in the winter or rollerskating in the summer, this Penn’s Landing spot is great for the whole family. Visit the Lodge for some food and relaxation, Franklin Fountain for sweet treats, the indoor arcade, and of course the giant Visit Philly chair. Summerfest also has a Midway with carnival rides and games, as well as nine holes of miniature golf. Look out for weekly events like Storytime in the Lodge on Saturdays.
Cold weather bonus: In the winter, the roller-rink becomes an ice rink, and the Lodge gets cozy!
301 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia
This boardwalk upon the Delaware River is a summertime oasis for families. From lounging in a hammock to paddling on the Delaware river to playing games, there is so much to do. New for this year, PopUpPlay will host free weekly activities for kids on Sundays.
210 N. 18th St., Philadelphia
In the summer, the Children’s Discovery Garden is the best place to splash in the city, with a boat pond, little rocks to climb, and streams to follow. If that’s not enough splashing for you, there is also the plaza fountain, which features a series of spray jets—one for each “Sister City” positioned by their global relation to Philly.
Center City Parks also hosts morning children’s programming, like storytime with the library or nature exploration, and the Free Library’s book cart is a nice way to take a break from swimming. A cafe on site is very convenient for post-play snacks. And be sure to attend the fun adult- and kid-friendly series Pairings on the Parkway–weekly BYOB summer concerts—on Thursdays.
Cold weather bonus: In the winter, the pond is drained to become Imagination Playground with big blue foam building blocks.
1 S. 15th St., Philadelphia
Located on the west side of City Hall, rows and rows of programmed jets spring up for kids to run through! Afterwards, there’s a lush lawn, on-site café, and plenty of seating to relax and grab a snack. Weekly live music and summer movies are just some of the other fun events to look forward to at this park as well.
Cold weather bonus: In the winter, the sprinklers are covered up and an ice rink appears, bringing months of fun activities at Dilworth Park, including the market across from Christmas Village, the Wintergarden maze, and the new holiday light show projected onto City Hall.
200 N. Sixth St., Philadelphia
Play Philadelphia-themed mini golf, ride the Parx Liberty carousel, and play in the playground! Come now through June 30 to catch the incredible Chinese Lantern Festival, featuring larger-than-life sculptures wrapped in colorful silk and filled with thousands of LED lights. Later in the summer, the square will host storytimes, movie nights, live music, and family fun days.
Cold weather bonus: Visit during the holidays for their Electrical Spectacle light show and weekly festive activities.
13th and Noble Streets (Phase 1), Philadelphia
Modeled after New York’s High Line, this park will revitalize three miles of unused rail lines into a usable, beautiful, public space for all. The Rail Park is situated on two obsolete train lines, and is envisioned to include three sections: the Reading Viaduct that soars overhead, the Cut that weaves between the streets, and the Tunnel that dives underground. For now, a quarter-mile section called Phase 1 is open (beginning at 13th and Noble streets), and we love it!
Coming Later this Summer
2451 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
This pop-up park brings color and community to Eakins Oval for one month in the summer. There are giant lawn games and sandboxes for the kids, live music, food trucks, and special events.
121 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia
The long-abandoned Municipal Pier 9 will be transformed into a vibrant mixed-use public space this summer. Cherry Street Pier will include a market with local vendors, workspace, performance venue, and an incredible open-air garden created under the pier’s steel trusses (they’ve removed the roof), complete with a café and space to play with views of the river.
Photographs by Laura Swartz.