Philadelphia’s Secret Gardens and Parks

As the weather gets nicer, venture to these hidden parks and gardens right here in Philly.

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 one out one of these lush urban oases.

John F. Collins Park

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. Walnut Street and South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA


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 these 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., Philadelphia, PA

Penn Treaty Park


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 Drive & Brewery Hill Drive, Philadelphia, PA               

Glendinning Rock Garden           


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 & 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA

The James G. Kaskey Memorial Park


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 scape, 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 perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee and great book. 7018 McCallum St., Philadelphia, PA


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., Philadelphia, PA

John F. Collins Park