Sidewalk grills are sizzling, Rita’s Water Ice is open for the season, and the Mr. Softee truck is circling the neighborhoods, singing its jingle that will be stuck in your head until September—spring has officially arrived in Philly. The City of Brotherly Love and the surrounding area offers a multitude of outdoor possibilities, so it’s time to turn off the Netflix, put away your cozy sweatpants, and step outside for some springtime adventures.
1. Throw a Picnic at Lemon Hill
Lemon Hill, a plateau sitting high above Kelly Drive and Boathouse Row, offers one of the most outstanding views of the City of Brotherly Love. The Lemon Hill mansion, built in 1800, is the main attraction on the hill, and serves as a museum and event space today. But the mansion is not the only gem—the wide open field and picturesque gazebo sitting atop the hill serve as an ideal spot for picnicking with a on a warm, spring day. Pack up your favorite snacks and drinks, throw down a blanket, and toss a frisbee at this urban oasis during the next sunny weekend, and bring the dog too!
2. Go for a Bike Ride on the Schuylkill River Trail
The Schuylkill River Trail stretches 130 miles from Center City Philadelphia out to Pottsville. This paved bike path is perfect for a leisurely ride for two, offering spectacular views of the Schuylkill River along the way. Bike rentals are available outside of Lloyd Hall—the most popular spot on the trail—near the Philadelphia Art Museum. Don’t miss the newly-opened Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, extending from Locust Street to South Street. If you've got a few hours, ride the 12 miles round trip from Lloyd Hall to Manayunk and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafés along Main Street.
3. Go Hiking at Wissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts in Philadelphia, containing 1,800 acres of woodlands and more than 50 miles of trails. Blazes frequently mark three main trails—the yellow trail on the west side of the Wissahickon Creek, and the orange and white on the east side—which vary in terrain, technicality, and length. If you'd rather take an easy stroll, walk down Forbidden Drive, which is a wide, shady, gravel trail that runs the length of the 7 mile park parallel to the creek. Stop for trail snacks and beverages at the Valley Green Inn snack bar in the center of the park, or at the Cedars House Café at the north end.
4. Visit Longwood Gardens
Located in Kennett Square, PA, Longwood Gardens is comprised of 1,077 acres and is widely recognized as one of the country's best botanical gardens. From April 9 to May 31, "Spring Blooms" are on display in the 40 outdoor and indoor gardens, featuring more than 240,000 tulips alone. If you get hungry while discovering more than 11,000 different plants and trees growing at Longwood, sit down for an upscale lunch at 1906 (reservations recommended), or casually dine at The Café. Longwood Gardens is open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily, but check the website for special holiday hours.
5. Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard on the Schuylkill River with Hidden River Outfitters
Whether you're an experienced water sports adventurer or first-timer, Hidden River Outfitters in Philadelphia has options for fun and exciting adventure days on the Schuylkill River . With two convenient locations—one in Manayunk and one on the Schuylkill Banks in Center City—Hidden River Outfitters' offerings range from daily kayak and paddleboard rentals, to lessons and tours. The most exciting of these is the Moonlight Kayak Tour, which costs $50 per person for 30 minutes of instruction and an hour of kayaking under the stars. Hidden River Outfitters will open in Mid-May for the spring and summer season.
6. Spectate the Penn Relays
The Penn Relays—held annually at the University of Pennsylvania in West Philly—is the longest-running and largest track meet in the United States. Spectators will watch thousands of track and field athletes compete in various distances, with skill levels ranging from high school newbies to Olympic hopefuls and veterans. This year, the races will be held from April 23 - 25, and tickets can be purchased on the event website for single or multiple days.
7. Stroll around Morris Arboretum
Located in Chestnut Hill in Northwestern Philadelphia, the Morris Arboretum boasts 92 acres of vibrant gardens, and is the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Discover more than 12,000 plants and trees in the urban arboretum on your own with one of many self-guided tours, or hop on a free-with-admission guided tour every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM. Visit Saturday, April 11 or Saturday, April 18 for special Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival Events . During the spring, Morris Arboretum is open on weekdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on weekends from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.