By Sam Klugherz
As one of the largest urban parks in the country, Fairmount Park is home to many of Philadelphia’s greatest attractions. More specifically, the section of the space that is west of the Schuylkill river commonly known as West Fairmount Park harbors must-see Philly landmarks, all of which are easily accessible by bike. Here’s a checklist of fun destinations to visit on your next ride into West Fairmount Park. A map of suggested routes to get to the destinations can be found at the bottom of this page.
Tucked away in the Park is the Horticulture Center, a greenhouse with both indoor and outdoor gardens often renowned for their beauty and elegance. As one of Philadelphia’s most popular wedding venues, the Center is a perfect stop during a summer ride through the park. The features include an outdoor arboretum, a reflection pool, indoor exhibits, and more. Additionally, there is a bike rack in the front of the building for bicycle parking.
Pavilion in the Trees
Behind the Horticulture Center is the Pavilion in the Trees wooden observation platform. The amenity was developed in 1993 by sculptor Martin Puryear and has served as a peaceful destination for nature-viewing ever since. The platform is connected to a wooden walkway, which can be reached from Lansdowne Drive.
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
For a relaxing stop on a ride through West Fairmount Park, further down the road from the Horticulture Center is the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. Visitors can take in the sights of a house with traditional Japanese architecture and surrounding gardens complete with a koi pond. The landscape makes for a cultural experience unlike any other in Philadelphia.
Beneath the Smith Memorial Arch in West Fairmount Park are the intriguing whispering benches that offer a cool and unique experience to visitors. The Arch is an American Civil War monument, featuring sculptures and statues of various Pennsylvania Civil War heroes, however the benches at the base of the monument are what makes a visit worthwhile. When one person sits at the end of the bench and whispers into the wall, a person sitting at the other end can hear the message clearly. Check it out to see for yourself, and learn more at the Association for Public Art’s website.
On the edge of West Fairmount Park is the Philly Pumptrack open for people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy. Founded in 2014, the Pumptrack has always been a community-oriented destination for cyclists. There are two tracks: a smaller oval track for beginners and a larger one with multiple line choices. The Pumptrack is free to ride and relies on donations and members to keep up and running. On Women, Trans, Femme (WTF) Only Mornings and 5 & Under Days, bikes are provided. Check out their website and Facebook page for information about the track hours and conditions.
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