FDR Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
Hours:Dawn to 9 p.m. daily (6 p.m. from November 1 through March 31)
Fee: Free

215-683-0200; fdrpark.org

Bathrooms: At Ashburn Fields; portable toilets throughout park
Water/Snacks: Water fountain at Ashburn Fields

Go “down the Lakes” to ride a bike, enjoy a nature walk, or fish in South Philly’s green oasis.

FDR Park
Photo by: Smallbones

The ponds, woods, and marshes of FDR Park (“the Lakes”) in South Philadelphia are unknown to most Philadelphians, who recognize the park only as an alternate parking spot for Eagles and Phillies games. But with a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere and room for kids to safely roam, it’s worth a trip—whether or not you’re attending a game.

The 348-acre park is conveniently located at the end of the Broad Street subway line, next to the mammoth sports complex. Originally named League Island Park, it was designed a century ago by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York’s Central Park. In 1926, it was modified for the nation’s Sesquicentennial. The park’s designers transformed tidal marshes at the junction of the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers into a serene landscape that includes 77 acres of natural areas where trails wind around lakes, ponds, and lagoons. Birds are abundant, drawn to the mixed forest, marsh, and shoreline habitat. The park is essentially level, so walking or biking is easy for even the youngest kids. Trails explore the shorelines along the lakes and creek, and older kids will enjoy exploring the watery environments. A paved, strollerfriendly bike path loop, about 1.5 miles long, circles the natural areas of the park, beginning at the park entrance. For fun with a different set of wheels, head to the world-famous skateboarding park in the southern section of the park, under I-95.

For young anglers, Edgewood Lake (the northern of the two lakes) and Meadow Lake are great places to learn the art of fishing. For a nice view of the area, head to the stone gazebo overlooking Meadow Lake. The gazebo is a much-photographed icon of the park. Along the shore, kids will enjoy watching the many ducks that are resident in the lake.

A state-of-the-art playground, including handicap-accessible structures, is near the main entrance, past the tennis courts and baseball fields on the right.

The park is also home to the American Swedish Historical Museum and Bellaire, a Colonial manor house, as well as playing fields and tennis courts. Bike and boat rental facilities are planned for the near future.

Remember: Dogs must be leashed.

Plan B:

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is a much larger example of the tidal marsh habitat, with 10 miles of walking and biking trails.

Where to Eat Nearby:

The 9th Street Italian Market is open Tuesday through Sunday.


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