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25 secret gardens, parks, and green spaces in Philly

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Winter is fast approaching, but there’s still time to take in women of the gorgeous outdoor experiences Philly has to offer.

Here, we’ve put together our list of the best secret gardens and green spaces around the city. So you can enjoy the sun while we still have it.

Hang out with a book, bring a picnic, or just spend some quality time outside.

The spaces are ordered from west to east. For the purposes of our map, the word "secret" applies to everything from tiny neighborhood gardens you never noticed before, to a few larger parks that are simply under-appreciated. We know there are so many more places than what we have here, so feel free to reveal your own favorite hidden gems in the comments.

Note: This story was originally published in 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.

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The Fountain Street Steps

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The Fountain Street Steps at the intersection of Fountain St. and Umbria St. in Manayunk is a little gem tended to by the community. It dates back to the early 1990s, when two mothers decided to beautify the stairs, which were overgrown with weeds and litter. Today, the steps are a pleasant, green gateway to the Manayunk Canal and are home to colorful murals courtesy of the Mural Arts Program. Bonus: They’re a classic spot for Instagram photos.

A post shared by Taye (@tayebertot) on

Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary

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Tucked away off Melville and Locust Streets in Spruce Hill, this bird sanctuary is hidden among the backyards of West Philly rowhomes. It's maintained by the Spruce Hill Community Association. Hang out here for a while and you might spot rare bird species, from goldfinches to the occasional hawk.

Photo by Melissa Romero

Ned Wolf Park

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This community park in Mt. Airy began its transformation a half a dozen years ago. Now it's known for its skilled gardeners and plant sales. There are weekend Tai Chi classes, annual plant sales, garden lectures, and other other community events held here regularly.

A post shared by Shai Gluskin (@shaigluskin) on

James G. Kaskey Memorial Park

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Commonly called the "BioPond," this treasure tucked away on Penn's campus is probably the best place to take your lunch if you work or live nearby. The pond has a full-time staff attending to it, and it can be reserved for special occasions. It dates back to 1897, making it the oldest green space at Penn.

The Glendinning Rock Garden

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This little park used to be the home of the "Spring Garden Water Works,' built in the mid 1840's. The foundation still stands, now overgrown with flora. There are some steps that take you into the woods adjacent to the park, and there is a pond, waterfalls, and probably some of the best secluded picnic spots in all of Philly.

A post shared by Eden Coffey (@edenrco) on

Powelton Summer/Winter Garden

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The Summer Winter Community Garden is one of the oldest community gardens in Philadelphia. Named after the nearby streets Summer and Winter, the garden is run by volunteers, who harvest and donate food to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society City Harvest, which serves the hungry.

Cira Green

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We're not sure how "secret" Cira Green is anymore, but it still seems to go unnoticed by passersby—given that it's located on top of a 11-story parking garage in University City. That may explain why Cira Green still feels like a hidden gem, despite its growing popularity since opening in 2015. Whether crowded or not, it’s definitely worth checking out, at least for those killer Center City views.

Catharine Park

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Catharine Park takes up just 0.02 of the 10,200 acres of parks in Philadelphia, making it the smallest green space in the city, according to the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department. It first opened in the 1970s under the Rizzo administration, but over the years became a site of crime and blight. After neighbors rallied together, Catharine Park re-opened in 2013 and has become a gathering hub for the community.

Courtesy of SOSNA

Julian Abele Park

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This expansive park in Graduate Hospital "became the first new Philadelphia public park in over a decade when it was opened in 2008," according to SOSNA. It's named after the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Fine Arts in 1902, who went onto design iconic buildings like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia at Central Parkway.

A post shared by BrittJames (@the_brittjames) on

PECO Green Roof

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At 45,000 square feet, the PECO Green Roof is the largest urban green roof installation on an existing building in Pennsylvania. Designed by Re:Vision Architecture and Roofmeadow in 2009, the roof captures 60 to 70 percent of rainwater that falls on the 8-story building. While it's not open to the public regularly, PECO and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society offer tours on the third Wednesday of every month at 5 p.m. from April to October. The fee is $5 for Pennsylvania Horticultural Society members and $10 for nonmembers.

Coxe Park

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This is a hidden gem off Cherry Street in Logan Square. It's a great place to bring the tots and let them run amok among the retro playground equipment, or simply sit back and relax on one of the benches. It’s also a popular spot for movie nights held by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, so keep an eye open for upcoming events.

A post shared by emmie ;) (@emmiekoho) on

Independence Live

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This public space sits sandwiched between Independence Blue Cross' headquarters and 1919 Market. It's technically part of the Independence LIVE Community Center, but its green wall and seating area are open to all.

Photo by Melissa Romero

John F. Collins Park

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This secluded little pocket park is located in the shadow of Liberty Place, and is one of the best places to get out from under those fluorescent lights and into the sunshine for a mid-day lunch break. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM and Saturdays and Sundays on a slightly more abbreviated schedule.

A post shared by Conrad Benner (@streetsdept) on

Henry Cope Garden

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The 55-acre Awbury Arboretum in Germantown is home to the Henry Cope Garden, also known as the "secret garden." It dates back to the earliest days of Awbury, when it was just a small boxwood garden. Today, the secret garden is full of rare trees like "very tall, old persimmons" and Witchhazel. It’s also (as of 2017) home to Adventure Woods, a natural materials playground.

The Spring Gardens

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What was once an abandoned lot is now Spring Gardens, a large community garden that takes up an entire city block. Some 180 families grow their own food and flowers for themselves and for donations. Non-members can visit the gardens on Saturdays during the gardening season.

A post shared by Alan Thomas (@alanthomassays) on

Hawthorne Park

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This park is a small 3/4 acres, but thanks to some smart and sustainable designs by LRSLA studio (now Ground Reconsidered), it gets the job done. The space has become a popular spot for residents to lounge about among the 50 trees and 19,000-square-foot lawn.

A post shared by Bradley Maule (@mauleofamerica) on

Harry O's Passyunk Gardens

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Fun fact: The Harry O’s Passyunk Gardens was created in 2011 for a taping of the Rachael Ray Show. But it continues to be run by volunteers, with plants and supplies provided by Camden Children’s Garden. It's open for visits on Sundays 4 to 6 p.m. and some weekday mornings.

Bardascino Park

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One word: Bocce. This hidden gem in Bella Vista is a well-maintained public space that provides a place for locals who want to take part in a friendly game, or just hang out in the shade. In the summer, the park has events like live music.

A post shared by Whitney Snyder (@whit_sny) on

Paolone Park

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Tucked away in South Philly—just off Passyunk—sits this charming little pocket park, which was dedicated in 1989 in memory of Democratic committeeman Louis Paolone, Sr. It’s a short triangle of land that is kept up by community members and features gorgeous flowers and even an Isaiah Zagar (of Philly’s Magic Garden fame) mosaic!

A post shared by hollyjawn (@hollyjawn) on

Perth and Addison Park

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According to one Yelp user, Perth and Addison Park may "simply be the most romantic spot in Philadelphia." It's tucked away in Washington Square West, surrounded by a collection of colonial rowhomes and brick-paved streets.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

Manton Street Park & Community Garden

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Friends of Manton Street Park worked with Fairmount Park Conservancy, PHS, and PPS to transform this vacant lot into the sweet community park and garden it is today. It's also home to a beautiful and colorful mural by local artist David Guinn.

Karen Donnelly Park

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Sandwiched between two rowhomes in Pennsport is Karen Donnelly Park, which is the result of neighbors coming together to transform a vacant lot into this public space. It features metal sculptures, playground equipment on astroturf, and built-in tables and benches.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

The Secret Gardens of Independence Park

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There are actually a whopping 55 acres of land that make up Independence National Historical Park in Old City, including a series of rose and magnolia gardens created by the National Park Service. The Magnolia, Rose, and 18th-Century gardens are meant to be recreations of what a typical Philadelphia garden looked like in the 18th century.

Courtesy of NPS

Konrad Square

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This Fishtown gem provides plenty of lawn space for general hanging out, and hosts Saturday flea markets, barbecues, and the occasional movie night when the weather's right. It’s also a popular spot to bring your dogs.

Benjamin Rush State Park

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This 275-acre park in Northeast Philly just so happens to be the only state park within city limits. It's mostly undeveloped, save for a very large community garden. In addition to bike paths and hiking trails, there's an area devoted to flying radio controlled model airplanes.

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The Fountain Street Steps

The Fountain Street Steps at the intersection of Fountain St. and Umbria St. in Manayunk is a little gem tended to by the community. It dates back to the early 1990s, when two mothers decided to beautify the stairs, which were overgrown with weeds and litter. Today, the steps are a pleasant, green gateway to the Manayunk Canal and are home to colorful murals courtesy of the Mural Arts Program. Bonus: They’re a classic spot for Instagram photos.

A post shared by Taye (@tayebertot) on

Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary

Photo by Melissa Romero

Tucked away off Melville and Locust Streets in Spruce Hill, this bird sanctuary is hidden among the backyards of West Philly rowhomes. It's maintained by the Spruce Hill Community Association. Hang out here for a while and you might spot rare bird species, from goldfinches to the occasional hawk.

Photo by Melissa Romero

Ned Wolf Park

This community park in Mt. Airy began its transformation a half a dozen years ago. Now it's known for its skilled gardeners and plant sales. There are weekend Tai Chi classes, annual plant sales, garden lectures, and other other community events held here regularly.

A post shared by Shai Gluskin (@shaigluskin) on

James G. Kaskey Memorial Park

Commonly called the "BioPond," this treasure tucked away on Penn's campus is probably the best place to take your lunch if you work or live nearby. The pond has a full-time staff attending to it, and it can be reserved for special occasions. It dates back to 1897, making it the oldest green space at Penn.

The Glendinning Rock Garden

This little park used to be the home of the "Spring Garden Water Works,' built in the mid 1840's. The foundation still stands, now overgrown with flora. There are some steps that take you into the woods adjacent to the park, and there is a pond, waterfalls, and probably some of the best secluded picnic spots in all of Philly.

A post shared by Eden Coffey (@edenrco) on

Powelton Summer/Winter Garden

The Summer Winter Community Garden is one of the oldest community gardens in Philadelphia. Named after the nearby streets Summer and Winter, the garden is run by volunteers, who harvest and donate food to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society City Harvest, which serves the hungry.

Cira Green

We're not sure how "secret" Cira Green is anymore, but it still seems to go unnoticed by passersby—given that it's located on top of a 11-story parking garage in University City. That may explain why Cira Green still feels like a hidden gem, despite its growing popularity since opening in 2015. Whether crowded or not, it’s definitely worth checking out, at least for those killer Center City views.

Catharine Park

Courtesy of SOSNA

Catharine Park takes up just 0.02 of the 10,200 acres of parks in Philadelphia, making it the smallest green space in the city, according to the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department. It first opened in the 1970s under the Rizzo administration, but over the years became a site of crime and blight. After neighbors rallied together, Catharine Park re-opened in 2013 and has become a gathering hub for the community.

Courtesy of SOSNA

Julian Abele Park

This expansive park in Graduate Hospital "became the first new Philadelphia public park in over a decade when it was opened in 2008," according to SOSNA. It's named after the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Fine Arts in 1902, who went onto design iconic buildings like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia at Central Parkway.

A post shared by BrittJames (@the_brittjames) on

PECO Green Roof

At 45,000 square feet, the PECO Green Roof is the largest urban green roof installation on an existing building in Pennsylvania. Designed by Re:Vision Architecture and Roofmeadow in 2009, the roof captures 60 to 70 percent of rainwater that falls on the 8-story building. While it's not open to the public regularly, PECO and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society offer tours on the third Wednesday of every month at 5 p.m. from April to October. The fee is $5 for Pennsylvania Horticultural Society members and $10 for nonmembers.

Coxe Park

This is a hidden gem off Cherry Street in Logan Square. It's a great place to bring the tots and let them run amok among the retro playground equipment, or simply sit back and relax on one of the benches. It’s also a popular spot for movie nights held by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, so keep an eye open for upcoming events.

A post shared by emmie ;) (@emmiekoho) on

Independence Live

Photo by Melissa Romero

This public space sits sandwiched between Independence Blue Cross' headquarters and 1919 Market. It's technically part of the Independence LIVE Community Center, but its green wall and seating area are open to all.

Photo by Melissa Romero

John F. Collins Park

This secluded little pocket park is located in the shadow of Liberty Place, and is one of the best places to get out from under those fluorescent lights and into the sunshine for a mid-day lunch break. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM and Saturdays and Sundays on a slightly more abbreviated schedule.

A post shared by Conrad Benner (@streetsdept) on

Henry Cope Garden

The 55-acre Awbury Arboretum in Germantown is home to the Henry Cope Garden, also known as the "secret garden." It dates back to the earliest days of Awbury, when it was just a small boxwood garden. Today, the secret garden is full of rare trees like "very tall, old persimmons" and Witchhazel. It’s also (as of 2017) home to Adventure Woods, a natural materials playground.

The Spring Gardens

What was once an abandoned lot is now Spring Gardens, a large community garden that takes up an entire city block. Some 180 families grow their own food and flowers for themselves and for donations. Non-members can visit the gardens on Saturdays during the gardening season.

A post shared by Alan Thomas (@alanthomassays) on

Hawthorne Park

This park is a small 3/4 acres, but thanks to some smart and sustainable designs by LRSLA studio (now Ground Reconsidered), it gets the job done. The space has become a popular spot for residents to lounge about among the 50 trees and 19,000-square-foot lawn.

A post shared by Bradley Maule (@mauleofamerica) on

Harry O's Passyunk Gardens

Fun fact: The Harry O’s Passyunk Gardens was created in 2011 for a taping of the Rachael Ray Show. But it continues to be run by volunteers, with plants and supplies provided by Camden Children’s Garden. It's open for visits on Sundays 4 to 6 p.m. and some weekday mornings.

Bardascino Park

One word: Bocce. This hidden gem in Bella Vista is a well-maintained public space that provides a place for locals who want to take part in a friendly game, or just hang out in the shade. In the summer, the park has events like live music.

A post shared by Whitney Snyder (@whit_sny) on

Paolone Park

Tucked away in South Philly—just off Passyunk—sits this charming little pocket park, which was dedicated in 1989 in memory of Democratic committeeman Louis Paolone, Sr. It’s a short triangle of land that is kept up by community members and features gorgeous flowers and even an Isaiah Zagar (of Philly’s Magic Garden fame) mosaic!

A post shared by hollyjawn (@hollyjawn) on

Perth and Addison Park

Courtesy of Google Streetview

According to one Yelp user, Perth and Addison Park may "simply be the most romantic spot in Philadelphia." It's tucked away in Washington Square West, surrounded by a collection of colonial rowhomes and brick-paved streets.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

Manton Street Park & Community Garden

Friends of Manton Street Park worked with Fairmount Park Conservancy, PHS, and PPS to transform this vacant lot into the sweet community park and garden it is today. It's also home to a beautiful and colorful mural by local artist David Guinn.

Karen Donnelly Park

Courtesy of Google Streetview

Sandwiched between two rowhomes in Pennsport is Karen Donnelly Park, which is the result of neighbors coming together to transform a vacant lot into this public space. It features metal sculptures, playground equipment on astroturf, and built-in tables and benches.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

The Secret Gardens of Independence Park

Courtesy of NPS

There are actually a whopping 55 acres of land that make up Independence National Historical Park in Old City, including a series of rose and magnolia gardens created by the National Park Service. The Magnolia, Rose, and 18th-Century gardens are meant to be recreations of what a typical Philadelphia garden looked like in the 18th century.

Courtesy of NPS

Konrad Square

This Fishtown gem provides plenty of lawn space for general hanging out, and hosts Saturday flea markets, barbecues, and the occasional movie night when the weather's right. It’s also a popular spot to bring your dogs.

Benjamin Rush State Park

This 275-acre park in Northeast Philly just so happens to be the only state park within city limits. It's mostly undeveloped, save for a very large community garden. In addition to bike paths and hiking trails, there's an area devoted to flying radio controlled model airplanes.