15 Can’t-Miss Outdoor Activities Near Drexel
By Kylie Gray
June 25, 2019
It’s officially summer, which means it’s time to bookend those classes and co-ops with some fun in the sun! So, grab your friends, slather on some sunscreen and enjoy all that Philadelphia has to offer with these 15 can’t-miss outdoor activities — all just a short trip from Drexel’s campus!
1. Enjoy “America’s Garden Capital”
No, we’re not talking about the Garden State; with over 30 public gardens within 30 miles, America’s Garden Capital is our very own Philadelphia! Might we suggest taking a boat ride down to Bartram’s Garden, a national historic landmark and the country’s oldest botanical garden? There’s also Morris Arboretum, with its enchanting sculptures and landscape or, just outside the city, the famous light and fountain performances of Longwood Gardens.
2. Walk Through the Magic Gardens
The work of mosaic mural artist Isaiah Zagar has long given texture to South Street. Tour the artist’s most famous work in the Instagram-worthy Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, or hunt for nearby public art hidden in local shops and gracing the sides of buildings.
3. Play Mini Golf in Franklin Square
Want a unique way to tour the iconic buildings of Philadelphia? See the sights in miniature in Franklin Square’s mini-golf course! Putt-putt your way around landmarks like the Liberty Bell, Elfreth’s Alley, the Ben Franklin Bridge and more.
4. Chase Waterfalls
Despite TLC’s dissuasion, the Philly area is a great place to track down breathtaking falling water displays. Start at the Wissahickon Valley Park Gorge, with over 50 miles of trails along Forbidden Drive, or bring your hiking boots out to Pennypack Park or Ridley Creek State Park.
5. Attend a Neighborhood Festival
As the weather warms, neighborhood blocks are slowly overtaken by food trucks, cultural dancers, artisans and merrymakers. Celebrate Philadelphia’s rich subcultures and communities by joining in on the fun at one of the city’s many festivals, like the Lancaster Avenue Jazz and Arts Festival (July 20) or the 40th Street Summer Series (July 13 and August 18). They are also nearby summer traditions like the Party on the Parkway (July 4), Shakespeare in Clark Park (July 24 – 28) and the Oval+ (July 19 – August 18).
6. Go Kayaking
Whether you’re looking to break a sweat or clear your mind, you’re just a quick rental away from kayaking to your heart’s content. Try the free boating near Bartram’s Garden on Saturday afternoons, or rent from vendors on the Schuylkill River and at FDR Park. It’s the perfect way to fill a few free hours on sunny afternoon.
7. Find Hidden Gems in Fairmount
Beyond its picturesque trails, Fairmount Park is packed with places to explore like the Shofuso Japanese House, the Pavilion in the Trees, the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center and more. Feeling adventurous? Try your hand (and balance) at Treetops Quest Philly, the city’s first aerial adventure park.
8. Walk Around the Navy Yard
Old-school ships alongside modern and historical architecture — the Navy Yard is a relaxing place to take a tour, grab a bite to eat or just take in the atmosphere. Check out the events calendar for upcoming food truck festivals, outdoor yoga, public art, fireworks displays and more.
9. Pier Hop on the Delaware
The Delaware River waterfront offers way more than the views. Check out an art installation on the new Cherry Street Pier, laze in the hammock garden in Spruce Street Harbor Park, catch an outdoor concert on Penn’s Landing, have an alfresco dinner on Morgan’s Pier — or hop from pier to pier to do it all in one day!
10. Go on a Walking Tour
Even a Philly local can gain a fresh perspective by taking a city tour on foot. Explore the Mural Mile on a self-guided tour, or tap into the mystery of the city’s historical roots with an after-dusk ghost tour.
11. Catch an Outdoor Movie
Every spring and summer, Philadelphia’s green spaces roll out the big screens for free movie screenings under the stars. Toss a blanket in the grass and kick back for the evening shows in locations like the Schuykill Banks, Penn’s Landing, Clark Park and many more.
12. Join an Exercise Class
If you’re ready to get up and moving around the city, you’re in good company! Fitness enthusiasts congregate in workout groups like the Pennsylvania Dragon Boat Club and the November Project. You can also stretch your muscles and mind with free yoga almost daily on the Race Street Pier, or practice your Sunset Chakra on the roof of Bok Bar.
13. Attend First Friday
Treat yourself to some ad-hoc art therapy on the first Friday of the month, when art galleries, studios and shops open their doors to visitors. The event originated in a hub of galleries in Old City, but has since spread to Fishtown and other neighborhoods.
14. Try Disc Golf
If you’ve never tested your skills at disc golf, Sedgley Woods is the perfect place to make your debut – just pack a Frisbee and bring a few friends! The 27-hole course is free to play and is said to be challenging but achievable for beginners.
15. Hang Out at a Cemetery
OK, a cemetery might not be your first choice for an afternoon outing, but Laurel Hill is a can’t-miss locale for history and architecture buffs. The cemetery offers spooky film screenings and tours focused on music, athletics, abolitionism and more. The Woodlands — final resting place of our own A.J. Drexel — offers nature nights and runner’s happy hours.