The Free Library is here to help your family find their Winter Wonderland!
Nurture Minds and Spirits, Young and Old
New research suggests that regular exposure to green spaces, or natural landscapes, can lower stress, combat depression and chronic pain, encourage physical well-being throughout our lifetimes, and even promote better mental health outcomes for kids.
Even twenty minutes spent in a park has been reported to lift your mood and increase contentment. And Philadelphia, the Garden Capital, is steadily growing greener.
Cold weather doesn’t make you sick! Regular hand-washing can fight illness-causing germs. Enjoying green space outdoors can benefit your health, relieve stress, and help to keep your immune system strong. Just be sure to bundle up!
Seek Out Urban Green Space
Visit one of the many natural landscapes that are open to the public throughout Philadelphia. Every location on this list offers free admission year-round.
The newly revitalized Gray’s Ferry Crescent Esplanade offers seating with riverfront views and fishing access, a paved trail along the wooded banks of the Schuylkill, a skate park, and a dock that allows visitors to walk out over the water and watch for wildlife.
Washington Avenue Green features a waterfront garden of native plants and an outlook tower located on a historic Delaware River pier.
On 8 acres of land abutting the Schuylkill River, Bartram’s Garden is the oldest living botanical garden in North America. Stroll the grounds and gardens, bring a sled in the snow, attend a Make-and-Take workshop, or come to hear live music. $2 event and workshop tickets available to all Access cardholders and Southwest Philly residents.
Cobbs Creek Park is an eye-catching natural landscape of woods and rocky streams. Visitors can enjoy the greenery at one of the three playgrounds or two golf courses, or walking the 7 miles of trail. Adults and kids can learn about the park and its inhabitants at the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center. Look for upcoming events on their Facebook page.
The Woodlands Cemetery offers historical context and green landscape with the tranquility of an English garden.
The oldest green space on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, the James G. Kaskey Memorial Park—a.k.a Bio Pond—is a peaceful refuge known for its biodiversity. Stroll through the trees, enjoy the wide array of native plants, and visit the pond to observe the Koi fish and large turtle population.
At the heart of Spruce Hill, Clark Park is green space at its most social. The park’s eclectic offerings include youth soccer and playgrounds, theatrical and musical performances, and a year-round Saturday farmers market.
The summertime site of Theatre in the X, music festivals, and Philadelphia’s largest Juneteenth celebration, Malcolm X Park has tree-lined walkways, a covered area with picnic benches, and a playground.
The Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary is a copse of trees and native plants tucked between rowhomes, a perfect spot for a quiet moment or a kid-sized hike.
Open year-round, the Rail Park is a quarter-mile long green space located atop a length of retired track that once served Reading Terminal. Accessible by a stairway, the park combines green landscaping with ample seating and spectacular city views. Promenade or kick your heels up on one of the family-sized wooden bench swings.
Rittenhouse Square is one of the original Philadelphia parks planned by William Penn. Sheltered by stately trees, the Square offers bench-lined walkways, sculptures, and green expanses large enough to build a snow-family.
Adjacent to City Hall, Dilworth Park brings family fun even during the colder months. Enjoy a hot cocoa and peruse the winter garden. You can even take a spin on their outdoor ice-skating rink for a small fee.
The Awbury Arboretum in historic Germantown describes itself as a dog- and family-friendly "tree zoo." This 55-acre natural landscape features meadows, wetlands, walking trails, and a secret garden.
Fernhill Park is equipped with a sports field, tennis and basketball courts, and a playground surrounded by trees. It is dog-friendly, too.
There is much to explore in Fairmount Park. Philadelphia’s largest municipal park houses portions of the Schuylkill River trail, Boathouse Row, Smith Memorial Playground, the Horticulture Center, The Discovery Center, the fantastic views of Belmont Plateau and so much more, on and off the beaten path.
Wissahickon Valley Park is lush with densely-treed forest, wide meadows and creeks, and over 50 miles of hiking trails. It is also an excellent place to birdwatch. Try Forbidden Drive for a paved, family-friendly walk through the woods.
Pennypack Park is a green oasis with backwoods trails, a paved bike path, historical sites, free parking, and a healthy wildlife population. If you’re lucky, you might spot a rare Bald Eagle.
Benjamin Rush State Park is the only state park with the boundaries of the city. Visit the untamed Pennsylvania woodlands and meadows with hiking and cycling trails, a model-aircraft flying field, and one of the largest community gardens in the area.
Gear Up for Your Very Own Green Space Adventure
Find these learning resources at your local Free Library:
Explore Your Neighborhood and Beyond
Find more green, outdoor, and recreation spaces in Philadelphia including local parks:
Find Your Community
Looking for a local group to enjoy the fresh air with?
- WeWalkPhilly organizes free walking groups in parks throughout the city.
- GirlTrek Philly is "a national health movement that activates thousands of Black women to be change-makers in their lives and communities—through walking."
- Outdoor Afro works to "reconnect African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, birding, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more!"