One of the world’s largest city park systems
With more than 9,200 acres of rolling hills, gentle trails, relaxing waterfront and shaded woodlands, Fairmount Park keeps a wealth of natural landscapes within easy reach of all city residents.
You can take a stroll, head out for an afternoon of softball, organized frisbee or pier-side fishing, or just settle in for a family picnic. There are miles of trails for horseback riding, off-road cycling and deep-woods hiking, yet there are also tours of historic mansions, Japanese tea ceremonies and outdoor concerts. Three environmental centers, as well as a wildlife refuge treatment center, help bring the natural world to life for adults as well as children.
In 1876, more than 10 million people journeyed to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park for the nation’s Centennial celebration. And today, the 8,900 acre expanse remains a refuge from the bustling city, keeping quiet natural landscapes within close reach of all residents.
A Victorian-style trolley offers tours of the Colonial-era mansions that dot the landscape. Two outdoor concert venues feature some of the tops names in music. The world-famous Philadelphia Museum of Art sits at the headway of the Park and overlooks the row of Victorian-era boathouses that have become architectural landmarks.
Bankruptcy and the quest for clean water were the two driving forces behind the creation of Fairmount Park. When Robert Morris, financier of the Revolutionary War, went bankrupt, his country farm and gardens were purchased by another businessman who created such lovely gardens, he charged admission. The property changed hands again only to suffer from yet another economic downturn.
In 1843, a shrewd city councilman pressed to purchase the property which was situated above the municipal water works. By purchasing the property and designating it as parkland, the city was able to end the industrial contamination of the river that had occurred downstream.
Over the next century, the city acquired additional lands and recruited landscape architects to develop a plan that would preserve the park’s natural features but maximize public accessibility and emphasize its lovely vistas.
All areas of the park are open from sunrise to sunset. Picnic facilities are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Because the wilderness trails for off-road biking and horseback riding require extra maintenance, a permit is required for their use. Find out more at fairmountpark.org.
The Park’s playgrounds are a hit with kids, and so is the Philadelphia Zoo, America’s oldest zoo. Lloyd Hall, the Park’s newest facility, offers indoor recreational activities.
Straddling the Piedmont and Inner Coastal Planes, Fairmount Park provides an unexpected diversity of wildlife, foliage, wildlife and landscape.