The Philly Family Guide to the 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show
Thinking of taking the kids to this year's spectacle? Here's everything you need to know.
The Philadelphia Flower Show is back for its 193rd year, in a whole new way. For the first time ever, the Flower Show is being held in the summer and taking it outside, in what is sure to be a popular and unique iteration of the iconic event. This year’s location in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park serves as a brilliant backdrop for “Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece,” and the result is a Flower Show that is much more spread out, kid-friendly, and eclectic.
This year features the most designers, gardens, and floral displays in the Flower Show’s history, with over 75 unique installations for guests to see and interact with, spread out over a 15-acre outdoor footprint to allow for social distancing. In addition to the major exhibits, there are dozens of additional floral and landscape gardens, educational experiences, and horticultural exhibits to cater to a variety of interests.
Even Gritty will be there! Yes, you are reading that right. More on when that will happen below.
Whether you’re picking up some gardening tips or just taking in the colorful artistry, here’s what you’ll want to see, do, and plan for your visit.
Exhibits and Must-Sees
To make the 15-acre extravaganza more manageable, this year’s Flower Show is split up into distinct “Districts” with themes, vendors, food options, and experiences.
Design District is like a living sculpture garden, with larger-than-life artistic displays– think of it as mixed media with flowers as just one medium. The more open and laidback feel of this year’s Flower Show means that these works of art are also more durable to withstand the elements, meaning kids can interact more with some of the displays. In addition to gorgeous and evocative 360° views of the art, stop by the bee-themed photo op by Renee Tucci where kids can learn about pollinators and pose like one! You can also visit the Subaru section (called Camp Outback) and sign up for a guided Bird Walk during the show.
Plant District features a variety of plants that have been carefully arranged in the Flower Show’s signature Hamilton Horticourt, showcasing hundreds of plants in peak form. This district also allows guests learn about the planting, growing, care, and maintenance of plants from PHS experts and other plant-knowledgeable volunteers.
Garden District focuses on the ‘how to’ of gardening with practical garden techniques, ongoing learning, and interaction with experts. Our favorite part of this District was without a doubt the Prehistoric Playground by the Men’s Garden Club of Philadelphia. Potting Parties will be presented by Subaru in this district, as well as Butterflies Live.
Step inside a fully immersive habitat to walk among beautiful and exotic butterflies, learn how to attract butterflies to your garden, and snap the perfect selfie with some fluttery friends. Kids will love to watch the butterflies flutter around and maybe even land on their shoulder — don’t worry, there’s someone to give you a once-over at the exit to make sure a butterfly friend doesn’t stow away! This exhibit is located in the Garden District area of the show, and requires an additional $5 ticket.
In addition to the Districts, visit the open area, beer garden, and more in this section adjacent to Garden District. Here, you can visit PHS Gardener’s Green, the educational section of the Flower Show, where PHS experts and other gardening experts will safely hold informative sessions on a variety of topics in horticulture.
Gardener’s Grove is also home to the Enchanted Forest, a fantastical section of tableaux and floral design featuring creatures like fairies, ogres, and some very fancy (and tea-party-attending) rabbits.
What to Eat
It’s very safe to say you will not go hungry on your Flower Show adventure. Through a blend of culinary artistry, local flavors, and floral-inspired cuisine, Spectra and Brûlée Catering have joined forces with PHS to incorporate a wide variety of food and beverage options throughout each section of the Flower Show.
The FDR Park Boathouse has been transformed into an open-air restaurant located in Design District, with beautiful views of Edgewood Lake. The menu will feature snacks and sandwiches, as well as full meal options like crabcakes and short rib. Design District also has treats from Ben and Jerry’s and Rita’s, as well as coffee and classic Italian desserts from Philadelphia Eats, and snacks like popcorn and soft pretzels from Boardwalk Specials.
German favorites like bratwurst, raclette, Belgian fries, and more can be found at Blume Village Food Court in the Garden District; while the Food Bazaar in the Plant District has a little something for everyone, from salads to burgers. Head over to Gardener’s Grove to visit the Beer Garden, which also has fare from local vendors Philadelphia Eats, Festival Foods, Just Fork It!, and Boardwalk Specialties.
New for this year, you can also reserve a gourmet picnic basket online. A special picnic area will be designated for those who want to BYOB (bring your own blanket) and enjoy at the park.
Save the Date: Family Frolic
Save the date for June 12, which will be the very fun Family Frolic with special kid-friendly play activities and photo opportunities including a scavenger hunt with LEGOLAND, performances by the Pennsylvania Ballet, and even photos with Gritty!
Plan Your Trip
The Philadelphia Flower Show runs from June 5–13 at FDR Park in Philadelphia. Here are some helpful tips to help with your visit.
Tickets are available online, and cost $45 for adults, $30 for Young Friends ages 18 — 29, $20 for kids ages 5 — 17, and free for children ages 4 and under. There are family bundles available at online ticketing to save a little money in advance.
To control crowd size, attendees must reserve a date and time for all tickets. You can select the morning session from 10 am–2 pm or the afternoon session from 2–7 pm. If you’re coming with kids, pick the morning session and then stick around to play at FDR Park!
If you’re taking the subway, take Broad Street Line to the end (NRG Station at Broad and Pattison) and then walk five blocks to the show entrance. If you’re coming from the suburbs, transfer to BSL from Suburban Station.
If you’re driving, park at the stadiums (Lots T and U at Citizens Bank Park; and Lots A and B at Wells Fargo Center) or at the Naval Hospital Lot (this lot is the closest so it may fill up at popular times) at 1561 -1999 Pattison Ave. Look for courtesy shuttles that serve all official Flower Show parking lots to access the Main Entrance for the Flower Show. Shuttles will run daily, providing complimentary shuttle transportation to and from designated parking lots surrounding FDR Park. Parking is $20 per car, or $40 for oversized vehicles.
The new, sprawling outdoor venue means a lot more planning in advance. First off, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, since the show spans 15 acres of varying terrain. Scooters, strollers, and wheelchairs can be used on both paved and gravel paths and many of the lawn areas, but you may want to babywear to make it easier to see everything.
Tickets are nonrefundable, and the Flower Show is rain-or-shine, so this is where it gets interesting. When we visited for the Media Preview, we experienced the full range of weather, from sunny heat to a torrential downpour, all in a matter of hours! There is a lot of walking and sunlight, and the forecast this week is very hot, so be sure to pack sunscreen and water for everyone. And in case you get caught in a sudden summer storm (and the parking lot feels very far away), consider packing those plastic bag-style ponchos in your bag so you’re not lugging around umbrellas but are also not caught in the storm!
Guests are only allowed to bring purses, medical bags, and diaper bags into FDR Park. Coolers, other large bags, and wheeled bags are not permitted. Approved bags can be no larger than 16”x16”x8,” and will be subject to inspection upon entry.
Guests are not required to wear masks outdoors at the Flower Show, but are required to wear masks while in indoor spaces, so be sure to bring them.
Photographs by Laura Swartz.