Hidden gardens and city parks you can visit year-round.
After a winter filled with confusingly inconsistent weather and shameless hibernation, spring is fast approaching, and with it, a renewed desire to head outside. Luckily, when it comes to public green spaces, Philadelphia — also known as America’s Garden Capital — boasts an embarrassment of riches. While main squares like Rittenhouse and Washington garner most of the attention, the city is brimming with lesser-known gems. Take a breather from sightseeing and seek out one of these lush urban oases. BY REGAN STEPHENS
THE SECRET GARDENS OF INDEPENDENCE PARK
Situated in Old City amid the expansive Independence National Historical Park, you’ll find Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center and the Secret Gardens. Four petite green spaces provide a shady respite for tourists taking in the city’s historic offerings. The 18th Century Garden and neighboring Bishop White Garden are representative of the Colonial gardens of the 18th century, with fruit trees, a vine- covered pergola and symmetrical raised beds flourishing with flowers of the era. Nearby, the Rose Garden and the Magnolia Garden pay homage to the signers of the Declaration of Independence and to George Washington, who was known to have been fond of magnolias. The trees are in peak bloom in the springtime, so stop in around mid- March or later to experience their beauty. Between Walnut St. and S. 3rd St.
GLENDINNING ROCK GARDEN
Fairmount Park may not be a secret, but, spanning over 2,000 acres, there are plenty of hidden gems to be discovered in the city’s largest park. On the site of what used to be the early 19th century Spring Garden Water Works just off Kelly Drive, Glendenning Rock Garden is a small, peaceful area with a creek, waterfall and charming stone steps that seem straight out of a fairytale. Come here for a quiet afternoon and feel worlds away from the bustling city. Kelly Dr. and Brewery Hill Dr.
THE JAMES G. KASKEY MEMORIAL PARK
Formerly known as the BioPond, this three-acre botanic garden is the oldest green space on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. While biology and art classes are sometimes conducted here, the park is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. Rich with wildlife, a recent rough census estimates it is home to over 100 different species of birds, insects, mammals and lichen. Also find a pollinator garden, pond, woodland paths, benches and chess board- covered tables — all welcoming those in the know (or anyone lucky enough to stumble across it) to temporarily replace the din of city life with warbling birds and the soothing sound of a waterfall. Hamilton Walk and 36th St.
PENN TREATY PARK
Like many things in Philadelphia, Penn Treaty Park is steeped in history. The Fishtown neighborhood recreation area overlooking the Delaware River gets its name from a “Great Treaty” meeting William Penn held with the Leni Lenape Native American Indians, according to legend, on the grounds in 1683. Today, a statue of Penn stands on the verdant lawns welcoming dog walkers, picnickers and the playground set, while the park hosts yoga classes, a yearly Easter egg hunt and fishing derby, and other community events. 1301 N. Beach St.
NED WOLF PARK
Known for its award-winning gardens, this community park in the city’s Mount Airy neighborhood has come to life with a team of green-thumbed volunteers and funds from a yearly plant sale. Vibrant, diverse flowers dot the small green area, with benches and plenty of shady trees. The garden is host to community activities like lectures and Tai Chi classes, but at its core, the beloved green space is the perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee and a great book. 7018 McCallum St.
JOHN F. COLLINS PARK
It would be easy to hustle past this tiny pocket park nestled between two buildings on your way to the nearby Shops at Liberty Place. But behind artist Christopher T. Ray’s Wissahickon Gate and Estuary Gate, depicting plants and animals native to the surrounding areas, find one of Center City’s most charming green spaces. Ivy- covered walls, a modern, serene fountain, abundant shade and plenty of benches and tables, make this tiny park a true oasis in the midst of one of the busiest sections of the city. Open year round, it’s normally most crowded around midday when it’s filled with locals on lunch break. Join them, or pick a quieter time to savor the urban sanctuary. 1707 Chestnut St.
Independence Secret Gardens 18th Century Garden
John F. Collins Park