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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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1. The Fountain Street Steps

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Umbria Street & Fountain Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127

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

2. Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary

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Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary, S Melville St
Philadelphia, PA 19139

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

3. Ned Wolf Park

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McCallum Street & West Ellet Street
Philadelphia, PA 19119

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

4. 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.

5. The Glendinning Rock Garden

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Kelly Drive & Brewery Hill Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130

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

6. Powelton Summer/Winter Garden

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North 33rd Street & Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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.

7. 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.

8. Catharine Park

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2200 Catharine St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

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

9. Julian Abele Park

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917 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

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

10. PECO Green Roof

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Market Street & North 23rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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.

11. Coxe Park

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2136 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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

12. Independence Live

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1901 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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

13. John F. Collins Park

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1707 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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

14. Henry Cope Garden

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1 Awbury Road
Philadelphia, PA 19138

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.

15. The Spring Gardens

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North 18th Street & Wallace Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

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

16. Hawthorne Park

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12th St. & Catharine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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

17. Harry O's Passyunk Gardens

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1304 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

18. Bardascino Park

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Bardascino Park, South 10th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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

19. Paolone Park

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732 Sears St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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

20. Perth and Addison Park

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Addison Street & South Perth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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

21. Manton Street Park & Community Garden

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401 Manton Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

22. Karen Donnelly Park

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234 Dickinson St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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

23. The Secret Gardens of Independence Park

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Walnut Street & South 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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

24. Konrad Square

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Tulip Street & East Dauphin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125

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.

25. Benjamin Rush State Park

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Benjamin Rush State Park
Philadelphia, PA 19154

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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1. The Fountain Street Steps

Umbria Street & Fountain Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127

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.

Umbria Street & Fountain Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127

2. Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary

Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary, S Melville St, Philadelphia, PA 19139
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.

Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary, S Melville St
Philadelphia, PA 19139

3. Ned Wolf Park

McCallum Street & West Ellet Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119

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.

McCallum Street & West Ellet Street
Philadelphia, PA 19119

4. James G. Kaskey Memorial Park

433 S. University Ave Philadelphia, PA 19125

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.

5. The Glendinning Rock Garden

Kelly Drive & Brewery Hill Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19130

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.

Kelly Drive & Brewery Hill Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130

6. Powelton Summer/Winter Garden

North 33rd Street & Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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.

North 33rd Street & Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

7. Cira Green

Philadelphia, PA

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.

8. Catharine Park

2200 Catharine St, Philadelphia, PA 19146
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.

2200 Catharine St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

9. Julian Abele Park

917 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146

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.

917 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

10. PECO Green Roof

Market Street & North 23rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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.

Market Street & North 23rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

11. Coxe Park

2136 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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.

2136 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

12. Independence Live

1901 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
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.

1901 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

13. John F. Collins Park

1707 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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.

1707 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

14. Henry Cope Garden

1 Awbury Road, Philadelphia, PA 19138

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.

1 Awbury Road
Philadelphia, PA 19138

15. The Spring Gardens

North 18th Street & Wallace Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130

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.

North 18th Street & Wallace Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

16. Hawthorne Park

12th St. & Catharine St., Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

12th St. & Catharine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

17. Harry O's Passyunk Gardens

1304 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

1304 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147

18. Bardascino Park

Bardascino Park, South 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

Bardascino Park, South 10th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

19. Paolone Park

732 Sears St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

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!

732 Sears St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

20. Perth and Addison Park

Addison Street & South Perth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
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.

Addison Street & South Perth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

21. Manton Street Park & Community Garden

401 Manton Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

401 Manton Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

22. Karen Donnelly Park

234 Dickinson St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
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.

234 Dickinson St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

23. The Secret Gardens of Independence Park

Walnut Street & South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
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.

Walnut Street & South 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

24. Konrad Square

Tulip Street & East Dauphin Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125

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.

Tulip Street & East Dauphin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125

25. Benjamin Rush State Park

Benjamin Rush State Park, Philadelphia, PA 19154

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.

Benjamin Rush State Park
Philadelphia, PA 19154