Spending your summer in Philly doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the summer swimming that you so patiently awaited all year. Here are a couple of unexplored spots to make this the best summer yet, without having to stray far from Penn’s campus.
Enter at your own risk. Devil’s pool, an average of 25 minutes away from campus, lies in the woods of Valley Green and remains the perfect opportunity for your secrete getaway for the day. Completely secluded, hidden amongst a cavalry of greenery, is an old stone arch bridge from 1890, placed conveniently 50 feet above a beautiful waterfall. Because of the archaic nature of the bridge, it makes the jump risky–and sometimes deadly. Still, this does not defer the thousands of teenagers that trek through Fairmount Park to engage in the beautiful scenery at Devil’s Pool. This location exemplifies the perfect balance between the serenity of nature and the dare-devil nature within each of us, providing you with your new favorite spot.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Not in the mood to drive all the way to Jersey just for the boardwalk? The Spruce Street Harbor Park is a 15 to 20 minute drive from campus and has been considered one of the best urban beaches in America. Located on the edge of the Delaware River at 301 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Harbor Park offerings are that of your average boardwalk. Visitors are encouraged to play games (shuffleboard, bocce, etc.), visit the beer garden, and relax on Harbor Park’s many hammocks. The Boardwalk manages to combine hand–held food and Philly’s culture perfectly, offering your typical burgers and funnel cake alongside Pete’s crab fries and Philly cheesesteaks. Yoga, meditation, and cardio classes are also offered—not on the Boardwalk, but rather on paddle boards within the water itself. Spruce Street Harbor Park is free to the public and has already opened for the summer—so what are you waiting for?
The Jersey Shore
Before you begin to question my sanity, the Jersey Shore gets a lot of unnecessary shade. Long Beach Island, located merely an hour away from the core of campus, can be the exact getaway you find yourself needing. Riddled with one–of–a–kind shore boutiques, delicious food, and, of course, the beach, LBI has a little something for everyone in your friend group. Amongst fried Oreos shops and Coney Island Waffles, the Boardwalk offers an array of games and rides, saving you a trip to Six Flags along the way.
No car, and finding it difficult to travel to LBI? Long Branch, NJ can easily be accessed from 30th Street Station. Taking SEPTA from 30th Street to Trenton and then along the line to Long Branch, and you can escape the urbanity of Philadelphia within a mere 2.5 hours. Long Branch, home of Pier Village, also offers high–end restaurants and rooftop bars, giving you the excuse you needed to dress up and get that Insta picture. Before your fear of running into Snooki overtakes you, consider taking a trip down to the shore to get in your water fix.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
If swimming isn’t really your cup of tea but you are still looking to get in some water time, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge might be the best place to spend your time. This spot is 20 minutes away from campus, located at 8601 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA. If the Wildlife Refuge’s vast array of hiking trails do not satiate your palate, they also include a canoe and kayak trail. The trail lasts 4.5 miles throughout Darby Creek, covering one of the largest remaining freshwater tidal marshes in Pennsylvania. This is a BYO canoe/kayak and life vests location. They also offer special trips to the marsh that qualify as kayaking tours given by LL Bean. This area is also open as prime fishing location, though there are many rules and regulations to be careful of.
Whether you’re in the mood for some simple beach time or boardwalk games, summer is the time to explore new opportunities and create your own adventures. These spots are a guarantee to add something special to your routine weekend!