5 Awesome Philly Parks for Outdoor Workouts

We’ve endured a long, cold, sanity-testing winter and if you haven’t seriously thought about moving to California at least once in the past five months (I’m talking looking-up-rentals-on-Craigslist serious), I commend you. But now, spring is here. And you know what that means? Your options for spots to get your sweat on have multiplied at the speed of Kris Jenner’s grandchildren. Of course, you’ve got the trusty gym, with its many fitness classes and fancy equipment galore. But for when your body is craving some vitamin D, you’ve now got plenty of spots to get your sweat on outdoors, too. Below—five awesome Philly parks for working out. Pro tip: Bring some friends and a post-workout picnic along for a complete spring experience.

1) For a city escape: FDR Park, South Philly

I’m going to let you in on a lovely secret: There’s a 348-acre park—complete with green fields for days, lakes and recreational facilities—nestled in the concrete jungle that is South Philly. I know: It sounds too good to be true. But it’s real, my friends, and you should be embracing it. FDR Park boasts trails for the runner in you or plenty of open space to set up for an outdoor circuit workout with friends. Or, if you’re in the mood for some healthy competition, hop onto one of the 20 (yes, TWENTY) tennis courts they have, open to the public. Bonus: Instagram-worthy post-workout picnic spots abound.


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2) For a Rittenhouse feel minus the Rittenhouse crowds: Washington Square Park, Washington Square West

Between the dog-walk remnants and the hoards of humans fighting for a patch of grass on a sunny day, Rittenhouse Square Park, pretty as it is, does not a good workout spot make. Its neighbor down Walnut Street, Washington Square Park, does though. It’s got the same feel of Rittenhouse without the crowdy density. Meaning: You can always find a patch of grass to do burpees on and an open bench for your decline-push-ups. Bonus: The long-and-wide sidewalk lining the eastern edge makes for the perfect sprinting outpost.

3) For running laps: Penn Treaty Park, Fishtown

This seven-acre gem on the Delaware River—with sweet views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, too!—is perfect for anyone who was conditioned by high-school track practice to believe running is best done in circles. A concrete path along the perimeter of the park connects to the sidewalk along the western edge to form a makeshift track, perfect for getting your laps in while soaking in some sun. Bonus: A cool-down walk down Columbia Avenue will lead you straight to Philly Style Bagels for a well-earned post-workout lox sandwich, named the best sandwich in America by Bon Appéit. Mmmmm.

4) For hill drills: Clark Park, West Philly

Hey, runners: The hills lining the edge of Clark Park are short and steep, making for a glute-burning spot to get in some hill drills. The nine-acre park also boasts plenty of space to set up shop for a bodyweight workout, if that’s more your speed. Bonus: The Clark Park Farmers’ Market, one of the Food Trust’s largest, lines the park with fresh fruits, veggies, and specialty goods on Saturdays from 10 am. To 2 p.m. year-round.

5) For a workout on two wheels: MLK Drive, Fairmount Park

While the seasonal closure of MLK Drive to cars on the weekends (heyyy, open streets) has been around for upward of two decades, I find that a LOT of Philadelphians don’t know that they can run, bike and gallop through the streets of this four-mile stretch during the warmer months, without worrying about cars side-swiping them. A four-mile stretch of MLK Drive—from Sweetbriar Drive to the Falls Bridge, accessible from the Schuylkill Banks—closes to cars from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekend from April through October, making for the perfect speedy bike-ride spot. You can also cut up into the hillier Fairmount Park to turn up the heat. Bonus: You can make a day of a workout along this stretch by continuing along the Schuylkill River Trail, and heading into Manayunk for brunch.

 

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