REFINE Recs: Your New Favorite Philly Hangouts

By: Taylor Franck

The best thing about Philly isn’t just cheesesteaks and Gritty. Home to beautiful restaurants, museums, parks, and so much more, we can admit that the city of brotherly love can get quite expensive—especially when you’re a broke college kid. In our first edition of the REFINE Recs series, where our staff gives you new recommendations for just about everything, we’ve gathered a list of all things free and fun (and mostly outdoors).

Cherry Street Pier

Photo credit: Maria Young

Photo credit: Maria Young

This beautiful waterside venue hosts two floors featuring Philly artists. Along with an art gallery, the pier hosts a slew of free events like Monday Movie Night, Guest Speakers, and Summer Fireworks. Enjoy the art and scenic view indoors or at their outdoor garden right on the waterfront. Plus, the pier beckons all types of college kids, from hipsters with their rotating pop-up shops and flea markets, to foodies with mouthwatering food truck events.

Check it out at: 121 N Christopher Columbus Blvd

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park

Photo credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy

Photo credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy

Coined as Philadelphia’s hidden gem, this park of all parks can serve all of your needs. Whether you just want to veg out on its grass, or are in search of free activities, FDR’s got your back. With recreational sport fields, skate park, lake, yoga, and more, the possibilities are endless. The park is a perfect place to escape away from the hustle & bustle (see also: politics, needing money, and the world dying).

Check it out at: 1500 Pattison Avenue & South Broad St.

Bartram’s Garden

Calling all plant and history lovers! This beautiful Philadelphia garden has over 45 acres for you to explore and get lost in. Enjoy the breathtaking sights of its wetlands, fish ponds, and medicinal plant display… or even take a dip in the Schuylkill River. Bartram’s also offers outdoor movie nights, jazz performances, and a ton of workshops and classes.

Check it out at: 5400 Lindbergh Blvd

Cira Green

Photo credit: Cira Green at Cira Centre South

Photo credit: Cira Green at Cira Centre South

Warning: once you’ve visited this gem, you’ll keep coming back. This park is truly one of a kind, offering a green landscape and many activities—all on a rooftop. With events like movies and games, and glorious cityscape views, this Philly hangout is perfect for all occasions. Definitely recommended for those who want an outdoor take at doing any type of work, or simply to connect with pals. Also, check out its Sunset Social, where you can grab a meal and watch the sun dip behind the clouds.

Check it out at: 80 S 30th St.

Schuylkill Banks

Just because you can’t pronounce or spell “Schuylkill,” it doesn’t mean you can’t thrive off its badass park. The Schuylkill Banks offers many outdoor amenities like a pool, a community garden, a dog park (watch those puppers flounce about!), and basketball courts. Don’t get us started on the boardwalk over the water and its multitude of docks, making it an unforgettable place to enjoy kayak tours, boat tours, and all things water-related.

Check it out at: 300 S 25th St.

Philly Navy Yard

Photo credit: Navy Yard Philadelphia

Photo credit: Navy Yard Philadelphia

Originally built as a place of production for the U.S. Navy, this yard is now home to thousands of Philly students looking for a chill spot to hang. This beautiful campus is open to the public and offers an interesting perspective of historic structures, historic ships, and acres of green parks. The Navy Yard is where URBN MRKT sets up shop each month, providing visitors with new and upcoming vendors, from gardeners to metallurgists to fashionistas. Oh yeah, there’s free yoga, art exhibits, and food trucks, too.

Check it out at: 4500 S Broad St.

The Singing Fountain

Photo credit: J. Fusco

Photo credit: J. Fusco

After exploring the funky and fresh neighborhood that is Passyunk Square, take a rest at its famous meeting spot. The Singing Fountain may look old and ordinary at first glance, but it’s so much more than that. A hub for people-watching and chilling out with friends, don’t get spooked when the fountain croons some tunes from its hidden speakers—which only occurs when people pass by. Now you can probably guess how it got its name. Grab a drink from the eccentric bars and restaurants that surround it, and enjoy the fountain with its relaxing vibe.

Check it out at: 1538 S 11th St.

Washington Square

Find your perfect oasis right in the middle of Old City. Just minutes away from Independence Hall, and established by William Penn, Washington Square can give Rittenhouse a run for its money. It has lots of spacious green grass and benches, great for people-watching and dog-petting. FYI: the square holds a clone of Philadelphia’s only Moon Tree—a tree carried as a seed into space by an astronaut.

Check it out at: 210 W. Washington Square

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Photo credit: Lee Dos Santos

Photo credit: Lee Dos Santos

Get your steps in at this iconic Philly location. PMA houses some of the most famous art in the world, from Picasso’s Three Musicians to Degas’ Little Dancer statue. Well known for its exhibits and the famous Rocky steps, this museum will not disappoint. With free yoga on Wednesday nights right in the center of history and many rotating exhibits, you’ll definitely get your zen on. Normally the museum costs $14 for students (free for registered Tyler kids), but on Wednesday nights, you can “donate what you wish.” AKA, you can get into the museum for as little as a penny.

Pro tip: after wandering throughout PMA, check out the Water Works. These sweeping views of Boathouse Row and the city skyline can’t be missed!

Check it out at: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy

The Rail Park

Photo credit: Friends of the Rail Park

Photo credit: Friends of the Rail Park

Don’t worry, you don’t have to pop an ollie to visit this last hangout destination. This new park is still a work in progress, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Coined as the “park of the future,” the Rail Park is an elevated walkway that will stretch over three miles across Philadelphia. Though only a quarter-mile as of now, it’s the perfect spot in the city to chill out with bench swings, greenery, and its many events like happy hours, film festivals, and yoga.

Check it out at: Noble St. & N Broad St.

Honorable Mentions:

Rittenhouse Square

Fountain Street Steps & the Manayunk Canal Towpath

University of Pennsylvania Campus

Fairmount Park