Here are nine things you might want to try.
We get it. You love the outdoors, but you’re also a city dweller and you don’t think you’d do so well sleeping out in the woods, with no running water or electricity. Lucky for you that’s precisely why glamping exists, and there’s plenty of places to do it within driving distance of Northwest Philadelphia.
For the ultimate glamping experience, head to Knoebels Campground in Elysburg, PA. Knoebels has a wide selection of cottages and cabins on its campground, but also an amusement park, Knoebels Amusement Resort, right next door.
French Creek State Park, located in Chester County, is another quality option that’s even closer. French Creek has ten furnished, modern cabins with kitchens - complete with private bathrooms, kitchens and electric heat - that sleep six people and can be booked year round.
Ziplining is unique, fun, and not far from your Northwest Philadelphia backyard. Treetop Quest Philly, located on Chamounix Drive in Philadelphia, has an array of more than 60 obstacle courses and zip-lines in the trees of West Fairmount Park. Ticket prices range from $22 to $58 depending on age and whether you buy in person or online.
If you’re looking to get out of the city, quality options also exist at Treetop Adventures in Norristown, Treehouse World in West Chester or Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park in Bear, DE.
When you live in a city surrounded by two rivers you can expect plenty of opportunities for watersports, and paddle boarding is no exception to that rule.
For starters, there’s the Philadelphia Canoe Club, located at 4900 Ridge Avenue in East Falls, which bills itself as the oldest paddling club in the United States. It offers classes for whitewater kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding.
But just like ziplining, there are non-Philadelphia options for getting outside the city. There’s Marsh Creek Water Sports & Boat Rental in Downingtown, PA, Nature's Way Canoe & Kayak in Ottsville, PA and Jim Thorpe River Adventures in Lehighton, PA.
Dragon Boat Racing
Why not follow Prince William and Kate Middleton this summer and take up dragon boat racing, one of the nation's fastest growing water sports?
Originating in ancient China, this fun-filled, adrenaline pumping sport is definitely social - it means competing in teams of up to 20 crew members, all while sitting in the hull of a large canoe-like vessel ornately decorated with carved dragon's heads and tails. The crew sits in pairs to paddle, and each boat has a drummer beating time to keep everyone pulling together, and a helmsperson guides the boat.
The Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association is located on Martin Luther King Drive right off the Schuylkill River, and the Schuylkill Dragons, a women’s only team, also rows out of that boathouse. There’s also the Bucks County Dragon Boat Association, which paddles in both Peace Valley and Core Creek parks.
Summer is the perfect time to dine al fresco whether it’s around a wooden table with a noisy gaggle of card-playing family or alone in a solitary meadow with just a favorite bottle of wine.
Picnics, a term that dates back to 1692, have experienced a resurgence since the pandemic when the outdoors became a refuge from home confinement. The Northwest, with its rich supply of green space, is in many ways the ideal place to commune with nature and a charcuterie board.
You can find a grassy spot amongst the expansive trails of Wissahickon Valley Park or Fort Washington State Park, the greenery of the arboretums (Morris and Awbury), or on a busy street in one of the neighborhood’s pocket parks. One named in memory of local activist Ned Wolf sits on the corner of McCallum and Ellet Streets. But if you’re planning to eat outside with a bunch of people in some of the larger parks, you’ll probably need to make a reservation. And watch out for those lantern flies.
Furbabies get the spotlight Saturday, Aug. 20, at Manayunk’s Dog Day of Summer, a celebration of the barking, meowing and chirping members of the family. Pet-friendly vendors, activities, pet adoptions, food vendors, and more will be set up along Main Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pet parents can pose with their animals at the photo booth, or in front of an artist who will capture their furbaby in a caricature. If you’re worried about whether Fido will ever meet their soulmate, clairvoyant Monica can deliver a paw reading. When you’re tired, sit down and grab a drink during “Yappy” hour.
And before you leave, organizers would love it if you would consider adopting an orphan pet who needs a home of their own.
Want to lean into your inner body strength and try rock climbing? The Wissahickon Valley Park, with its forested setting and dramatic schist outcroppings is a perfect place to start. Small wonder it’s so popular - you’ll almost always find local climbers on Livezey Rock on the east side of Wissahickon Creek. Good for beginners and intermediate climbers, it has five sets of bolted anchors for top roping and can also offer good practice rounds for advanced climbers.
“Boulderers,” otherwise known as rock climbers who don’t use any extra safety gear, can find some good climbing challenges below the Main Rock. More good spots are located along the bike trail between Ridge Avenue and the Forbidden Drive parking area.
Philadelphia and its surrounding areas offer great trails for Mountain Bikers who want to sharpen their skills while also taking in nature and wildlife.
But the city’s crowning jewel for this sport is definitely the Wissahickon which offers a wide variety of terrain types as well a 10.5-mile main trail loop that takes riders through a rubble-filled descent, over a balance beam, andup steep climbs with log crossings and jumps. There are lots of offshoot trails extending off this one, so you can ride as long or short as you please. There’s also a four miles loop around Cresheim Creek, which starts at Cresheim Drive and follows the trail down to Forbidden Drive.
Whichever tail you choose, you're guaranteed the adrenaline rush that comes with this particular sport - and to meet some fellow adventurers along the way!
For those already in the know, the Chestnut Hill Community Association's Pastorius Park Summer Concert Series (presenting sponsor is the Chestnut Hill Hospital) goes on the planning calendar early.
The free seven week series features quality performers and a range of music genres, including folk, celtic, world, and classical. This year’s lineup includes a rousing dose of Brazilian Jazz music - always exciting enough to get everyone up on their feet.
The music, which starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, runs through July 27. It’s best to come early, as it’s a popular draw for date night as well as family time. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and maybe a chair - and be prepared to enjoy a fabulous evening of live music underneath the stars.