What kind of mental picture do you get when you think of Philadelphia? Big cities are such a juxtaposition between beauty and filth in my personal opinion. Everywhere you look there are piles of trash, graffiti, and dilapidated buildings. Philly has more than its’ fair share of those things BUT it just may be one of the most beautifully historical cities with a huge amount of green space islands and hidden treasures throughout. Anytime I drive to an adventure in Philly I am so disgusted by the sheer amount of garbage that is truly everywhere, but then when we reach our destination I am refreshed to see the beauty this city holds. Balance, at least there’s that.
We have a membership to the Philadelphia Zoo. I usually buy their black Friday deal because at that price, two visits to the zoo and the membership has paid for itself. Because of covid, we hadn’t made it there yet this year so I took a day off work when the boys had an inservice day at school and we had a great morning with the animals. Afterwards, we headed around the corner to Fairmount Park for a picnic lunch in the shade of a huge Japanese maple. Most of our adventures end in a quick drive through meal as we rush home for nap time with little sis, so it was nice to take our time for once. Fairmount Park actually encompasses several parks and over 2,000 acres in the city of Philadelphia and we only visited a very small portion of the park system in the area designated as the Centennial Arboretum.
After lunch we did our very first geocaching adventure lab in the park where we had to visit 5 of the sculptures in the park in order to get the missing numbers for the coordinates to the physical cache. This took us in a large circle around the conservatory which turned out to be a great tour of the park. Everywhere you turn there’s a hidden sculpture, fountain or statue, most dating back to the 1800’s. It was absolutely beautiful seeing the huge variety in works of art and even more beautiful to this plank geek was the collection of MASSIVE specimen trees dotted all over. I chose this particular part of the park to visit because its’ proximity to the zoo and because of the Horticultural Center. I was hoping that we could visit inside the greenhouse but unfortunately it was still closed (darn covid strikes again!) We grabbed two additional geocaches after the adventure lab while we were there that helped direct our exploration even further!
There were picnic tables, trash cans and port-o-potties available throughout the park. I would skip the stroller here if you visit with little ones. There are paths that are stroller friendly, but you will want to have the freedom to stop at each of the points of interest. They are all over the place, so you will be going over tree roots, through the grass, and up rolling hills so most of it would be “off-roading” the majority of the time with a stroller. I was pleasantly surprised to find the park to be incredibly clean. Zero trash anywhere, minimal graffiti and well maintained. We happened to be there on a day with rain in the forecast so we pretty much had the entire park to ourselves. The only other people we encountered were the landscapers cutting the grass which I know will not be the case most of the time, but it was nice to not have to worry about crowds during our visit. I felt very safe here, the kids could run and explore freely, and practice reading the informational plaques about the history of each piece of art. I HIGHLY recommend making it a point to check this park out. I definitely look forward to repeat visits to the arboretum but also to the other thousands of acres we have yet to explore. There are apparently some amazing hidden gems in this park system that we can’t wait to find!