One of the benefits of living in Philadelphia is that you're never stuck in a concrete maze and there's tons of outdoor activities near you to consider. The city's close proximity to water and the mountains, to both beautiful nature preserves and historic sites of interest mean that a routine-crushing adventure is only an hour's drive away or less. Take advantage of this excellent location and try a novel hobby, explore some of the best state parks or climb to a new peak. Consider these 14 fun outdoor activities when you're looking to change up your routine:
1. Chamounix Equestrian Center
Though Philly has a long and storied history of urban cowboys, most people don't realize that horsemanship is easily accessible within city limits. Located in the midst of Fairmount Park since 1994, Chamounix is still one of the city's best kept secrets. The former police stables proffer horse riding and polo lessons for all ages from April to November, with sessions for every experience level.
2. Go Vertical
For indoor rock climbing near you, consider Go Vertical, the city's only indoor rock climbing gym. The gym features 13,500 feet of climbing surfaces, including 250 unique climbing routes. New climbers can explore the heights with the beginner's classes offered daily while those with more know-how can join in for an unsupervised climb. Bring your own gear or rent some on the premises.
3. Pinnacle Parkour Academy
This French training method appeals to those looking for fast and diverse movement along with the mental acuity to gauge and quickly scale, vault and jump obstacles. Philly's premiere parkour destination, located in East Falls, offers friendly training and daily open sessions for adults and children. If you're new to this parkour gym, you can get your first class free.
4. Laurel Hill Cemetery
Overlooking the Schuylkill River from a scenic height, this is Philadelphia's answer to Père Lachaise. Since its earliest days in the 19th century, Laurel Hill Cemetery has welcomed visitors for recreational activities and that tradition continues with all sorts of fun cultural experiences one wouldn't expect to find in a final resting place. Think storytelling, lectures, ghost tours, film screenings, yoga and live performance.
5. Bartram’s Garden
The oldest continuously operated botanic garden in North America is hidden in plain view, just off the west bank of the Schuylkill River. The expanse covers 45 acres, including botanist John Bartram's house, barn and greenhouse circa the 18th century. Visitors can tour the grounds for free year-round, take a guided tour or take part in the many arts and culture or boating programs.
6. Spring Mountain
Best known as a local skiing destination—within less than an hour's drive from Center City—Spring Mountain in Montgomery County features plenty of warmer-weather activities as well. You can take canopy tours with zip lines and rope bridges. You can also choose a themed tour or check out their tubing and geocaching options.
7. Foliage at Bowman’s Hill Tower
Climb (or ride the elevator) to the top of this 125-foot monument to George Washington's army and get a spectacular view of Washington Crossing Park and its greenery. (Bonus if you visit during the peak of fall foliage.) While you're there, check out the Historic Village and its reenactments and the Thompson-Neely Farmstead, both great examples of how the troops lived during the Revolutionary War era.
8. French Creek State Park
Next to the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, this heavily forested state park stretches across 7,730 scenic acres. Hike, bike and camp (you can rent a cabin with private bath or pitch a tent at one of the modern sites year-round). If birding's your thing, bring your binoculars: This park has been designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area.
9. Treetops Quest
Zip, jump and climb through Philly's skyline obstacle course. The environmentally sustainable adventure park has self-guided options for children aged four and up, with adult supervision, as well as courses for adults. It's also a fun place to go with friends as there's plenty of things to do. If you're feeling really adventurous, try this climb at night.
10. Disc Golf at Tyler State Park
Practice the fine art of flying disc or Frisbee golf at this hilly, mostly wooded 36-hole course in Newtown, PA, widely considered to be one of the best on the East Coast. The Bucks County Disc Golf Alliance offers clinics, tournaments and leagues.
11. Marsh Creek State Park
Chester County's state park's central feature is Marsh Creek Lake. In addition to the 18 miles of trails, visitors come here for the boating. You can rent watercraft, including rowboats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and sailboats, at the East Launch.
12. Valley Forge National Historical Park
Given the sheer scope of the landmass and its historical significance, visiting the site of the Continental Army's winter encampment can be daunting. Trolley tours, which last 90 minutes, cover the major sights with expert guidance.
13. River Tours in Manayunk
While Manayunk is most often associated with cycling, this riverfront neighborhood makes a great destination for anyone looking to tour the city by water. Grab a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and get the view from the Schuylkill. Tours include a lesson and safety talk.
14. Fly Fishing on the Delaware
Book a half or full day outing with a professional fly fishing guide. Gary Mauz will show you the ropes (and the rods) for fishing on the Delaware River. Classes are for all ages and include beginners to the most advanced of fly fishers.