For views of fall foliage, you don’t have to leave Philadelphia. Philly offers plenty of opportunity this fall to appreciate colorful changing leaves inside the city. Leaf peepers can appreciate fall foliage colors on Philadelphia’s urban bike paths, in its sculpture gardens, cemeteries, parks, and neighborhoods. Bonus: most of these pretty spots are free.
Fall Foliage Behind the Philadelphia Art Museum
You don’t even have to leave Center City Philadelphia to see its fall foliage. Behind the Philadelphia Art Museum is a green space ringed by trees, a small sculpture garden, and a lawn with trees that slopes down to the Schuylkill River, all of which put on a good fall color show. All are free, have plenty of space for kids to run around or to picnic, and give you a chance to see fall colors close to Center City. Bathrooms and a casual café are in the Fairmount Park building at the foot of Boathouse Row.
Bike Path Along the Schuylkill River
Flanking the Philadelphia Art Museum and extending along the Schuylkill River by Boathouse Row and beyond is a bike and walking path. It’s free. Walk (or rent a bike by the hour at Wheel Fun Rentals) to check out fall foliage along the path while appreciating the beauty of the river and the grace of the occasional rower gliding by.
Two downsides: The bike path and ribbon park are pretty wide, but they do run alongside a busy street, Kelly Drive, which can be noisy. NOTE: Parts of the bike path and the ribbon park are undergoing renovations in Fall 2016.
Fall Foliage Along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia
A fun and different way to take in the beauty of the fall foliage along the Schuylkill riverbank is from inside your car. This lovely view features several twisting miles of Kelly Drive (named for Grace Kelly’s father, an Olympic rower from Philadelphia), punctuated by runners, bikers, and picnickers. Free.
Belmont Plateau in West Philadelphia
If you’d like to check out fall foliage while taking in the city’s skyline, visit Belmont Plateau. This sprawling green lawn is rimmed by trees, with the Philadelphia skyline in the distance, looming like the Emerald City. Free. For other great views of the Philadelphia skyline, click here.
Fall Foliage at Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill
Kids visiting the 92-acre Morris Arboretum in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia can climb huge outdoor metal sculptures, play hide and seek in the garden buildings, visit the swans and ducks in the pond, or peek inside the Victorian greenhouse. Fall foliage is all around. The Arboretum has native and imported trees of all sizes, plus programs for kids and adults. Entrance fee, bathroom, casual cafe on site.
Laurel Hill Cemetery in East Falls
Would your kids be spooked by visiting a graveyard to see the changing leaves? If not, check out Laurel Hill Cemetery. It’s perched on a hill in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, just a few miles from Center City. It not only has lovely fall foliage, it’s got a great view overlooking the Schuylkill River. Free, bathroom and souvenir shop on site.
Horticultural Center in West Philadelphia
Between watching the changing fall colors, kids can run on several acres of open green lawn dotted with sculptures, watch a fountain, or picnic beneath the trees at the Horticultural Center in West Philadelphia. You can also duck inside the greenhouse, which has plants and statues. The Horticultural Center is inside Philadelphia’s sprawling Fairmount Park. Free, bathrooms. Bonus: It is across the street from a replica of a 17th Century Japanese House and Garden, which charges a fee, is a destination in itself, and has its own beautiful fall foliage.
Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park
Philadelphia is lucky to have a forest inside the city. It’s located alongside the Wissahickon Creek and is part of the city’s extensive Fairmount Park network. Our family enjoys hiking or biking along its relatively flat dirt road that permits horses but forbids cars. Forbidden Drive (it’s cars that are forbidden) is a fun place for changing leaves in Philadelphia. This 1800-acre park is mostly wooded, and stretches from the Chestnut Hill neighborhood to the Manayunk neighborhood, all inside Philadelphia. Trails crisscross the main path, if your family is up for more rugged walking while taking in the fall colors.
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