Escapes from city life found within city limits

How to leave the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia without taking a step outside city confines.

Philadelphia is a city known for its sights: big buildings, historical landmarks and lots of pavement.

Most of the time, when you’re in the city, you know it. From Independence Hall to the Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Art Museum, it’s hard to get away from the classic Philly scenery.

Sometimes even the most diehard fan of the city wants to escape. But what do you do if you can’t afford to leave the city limits?

Thankfully, Philadelphia is also full of hidden spots.

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park, which runs along the Schuylkill, is the largest green space in Philadelphia with 4,180 acres. Within the park lies several areas of greenery that can transport you someplace not just outside the city, but outside the country as well.

The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a traditional Japanese garden on the west side of Fairmount Park. The garden was originally built in New York, but moved to Philadelphia in 1958 and features a koi pond, a tea garden and a courtyard garden all in the style of 17th-century Japan.

Fairmount is also home to several other gardens and arboretums making it the perfect place to visit on a sunny spring day.

The Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation, originally located in Merion, recently moved to Philadelphia. The new building is a near reconstruction of the original house, which still stands in Merion along with its 12-acre arboretum, so that moving through the museum feels more like you’re going through Barnes’ 20th-century suburban home than it does a museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The museum features the outstanding art collection, featuring Impressionist and Modernist painters like Renoir, Matisse and Picasso, all collected by Dr. Albert C. Barnes throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Chestnut Hill

Located in Northwest Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill is a far cry from the bustling atmosphere of the rest of the city. Instead, it looks more like a quiet Main Street town and is a great place to go to escape the city for a day. Chestnut Hill is also home to some of the best shopping in Philadelphia along with restaurants, which you can enjoy at a cheaper rate thanks to March being Chestnut Hill’s Restaurant Month. You can also save some money while exploring the area by skipping the shopping and taking a walk through several parks instead.

Laurel Hill Cemetery

For a historic escape, you can check out the Laurel Hill Cemetery. In North Philadelphia, this cemetery houses famous Philadelphian names like Rittenhouse and Widener along with Philadelphia legends like Harry Kalas. The cemetery also provides a stunning view of the Schuylkill from above.

And on March 17, the cemetery will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day tour focused on the Irish history in Philadelphia with a reception afterward featuring food, music and drinks.


Despite being in the heart of the city, Chinatown can provide an escape for a day into another culture. Enter through the Chinatown Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch streets and spend the day there, starting the morning off with dim sum, a Chinese brunch featuring numerous types of dumplings, shopping in the afternoon, followed by dinner at any one of the area’s East Asian restaurants.

Penn’s Landing

If you’re missing the ocean, look no further than Penn’s Landing. While it’s not quite the same as the shore, Penn’s Landing runs down the Delaware River from Vine Street to South Street, and is about as close as you can get to the sea in Philly. The waterfront, which was originally a commercial area, has become a riverside park including a huge amphitheater area known for concerts and fireworks.

There are also several historic ships docked at Penn’s Landing, including the Moshulu, which is now a restaurant, the Gazela and the USS Olympia. And if those ships aren’t enough, you can also check out Independence Seaport Museum, which celebrates Philadelphia’s waterfront.

Nicole Soll can be reached at

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