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Top Summer Activities in Philadelphia

Play Video Summerfest. Photo by M. Stanley.
Date January 10, 2024

Top Summer Activities in Philadelphia

Uncover the hidden treasures of Philadelphia this summer and indulge in a unique urban escape.

As the days grow longer, Philadelphia comes alive with an abundance of seasonal sensations, inviting pop-up parks, and unforgettable festivals. Here are the top summer activities that make Philadelphia the ultimate destination for effortless living.

Immerse yourself outside

When the sun’s up in Philadelphia, it’s time to go out. Enjoy fountain shows, mini golf, dance lessons, and other family-friendly fun at Franklin Square. Be sure to stop by in the evening during the annual Chinese Lantern Festival. Thousands of lanterns illuminated by LED lights transform the Square into a can’t miss technicolor oasis.

Nature lovers have plenty of opportunities to seek solace outside during the summer. Explore the trails and historic homes found throughout the 2,000+ acre Fairmount Park. Night owls will enjoy the Park After Dark: Moonwalk series, a hiking tour through the park that includes lessons about nocturnal wildlife and lunar cycles.

A wooden bridge leads to a wooden bench covered by a wooden gazebo. Lush, green trees are shown behind. Brown leaves are scattered on the bridge.

Pavilion in the Trees. Photo courtesy of Fairmount Park Conservancy.

If you prefer to spend your summer on the water, explore Philadelphia with activities on the Delaware River. Charter a custom restored Chris Craft with Sea Philly for a stunning river cruise. For more on-the-water fun, visit the Independence Seaport Museum. The Museum offers a family-friendly paddleboat experience and some more adventurous kayak excursions.

At night, join fellow film fanatics at one of Philadelphia’s many outdoor movie screenings under the stars. Every year from June through October, the Betsy Ross House screens classic science fiction movies in its courtyard. In West Philadelphia, Sunset Social hosts outdoor movie nights each Wednesday on the lawn of Cira Green.

Also in West Philadelphia, University City District has partnered with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and Friends of Clark Park to offer Movies in Clark Park every Friday night in August. And for a truly lively experience, pack a picnic and join your friends for Movies at the Mann where a live orchestra plays along to blockbuster films.

People are shown sitting on picnic blankets on the grass, looking up at a large movie screen set up in a park. Trees are shown throughout.

Schuylkill Banks film series. Photo courtesy of Schuylkill Banks.

Make memories at seasonal parks and beer gardens

The Delaware River waterfront is one of Philadelphia’s top summer destinations. All thanks to an abundance of seasonal activities, dining experiences, and memorable attractions.

Skate riverside in a 12,000-square-foot roller rink, putt your way through a miniature golf course, and play arcade games at BlueCross RiverRink Summerfest. Lounge in a hammock at the nearby Spruce Street Harbor Park, then enjoy local food and beverages on the park’s floating barges.

Check out seasonal events and art installations at Cherry Street Pier. Or, dine riverside at The Garden, the pier’s pop-up dining space serving Mexican-inspired snacks and frozen cocktails. For a simple summer evening, relax on the lawn at neighboring Race Street Pier — one of Philadelphia’s top spots for photos.

A dark blue nighttime sky is overhead. Below, a roller skating rink by river, a Ferris Wheel, a carousel and arcade games fill an outdoor space in a carnival-like atmosphere. People are shown enjoying the festivities.

BlueCross RiverRink Summerfest along the Delaware River waterfront. Photo by M. Stanley.

Two Pop-Up Gardens — one on South Street  and another in Manayunk — transform previously vacant lots into lush landscapes. The Gardens offer specialty cocktails, craft beer, and seasonal menus from local restaurants.

Philadelphia’s summer traveling beer garden, Parks on Tap, sets up shop in a different park each week. And those visiting Center City can enjoy seasonal drinks and food at Uptown Beer Garden — which sits just across from LOVE Park.

Each summer, Eakins Oval transforms into a pop-up outdoor space along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Visitors can enjoy art, music, and free entertainment and concerts at The Oval XP. It is also home to a beer garden, a mobile Ferris wheel, a Summer Sound Stage, a carousel, and more.

A giant white Ferris Wheel is shown in the center. Its cars are colorful, some yellow, some red. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is behind it. In front of the Ferris Wheel is a colorful mural with bright chairs set up.

The Oval XP 2022. Photo by J. Ryan for PHLCVB.

Experience Philadelphia’s summer-long celebrations

Celebrate love in all its forms during Philly Pride 365, a day-long festival in downtown Philadelphia that starts with a parade from Independence Mall to the vibrant Gayborhood. Afterward, the neighborhood hosts a Pride festival where city-blocks overflow with mouth-watering food, festive entertainment, and LGBTQ+ resources.

In July, there’s no better place to celebrate America’s independence than the city where it happened. Wawa Welcome America is an annual festival that celebrates the 4th of July across Philadelphia. The festivities conclude with a massive concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Previous headliners have included Jason Derulo, Pitbull, and The Roots.

A person holds up an American flag in a crowd at the Wawa Welcome American Parkway concert.

People enjoy the Party of the Parkway during the Wawa Welcome America Festival. Photo courtesy of Wawa Welcome America Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek

Philadelphia is also home to the largest annual Juneteenth celebration in the nation, the Juneteenth Parade & Festival. The festival starts with a parade in West Philadelphia and concludes with an afternoon of music in Malcolm X Park.

For a taste of the city’s culture, head to one of Philadelphia’s vibrant neighborhoods and visit a local street festival. 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties has grown into one of the largest annual street festivals in Philadelphia.

Dozens of Old City restaurants and bars participate in Old City Eats, which takes place every Thursday throughout the summer. The Old City Eats block party kicks off with live music, dancers, and of course, great food.

The summer season begins and closes with two of the most star-studded, can’t miss music festivals. During the first weekend of June, The Roots Picnic hosts a lineup of artists, comics, and podcasters curated by the local legends, The Roots. ‘

Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival is held every Labor Day weekend. The festival features an all-star lineup performing on multiple stages, including a main stage resting against the iconic “Rocky Steps” outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Please note the 2023 Made in America festival has been canceled, but will return in 2024.

A tall yellow amusement ride is in the center with people in swings hanging from it. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is in the distance. Below the ride, people are shown walking and partying on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. There are crowds of people wearing red, white, and blue by white tents set up throughout the space.

Made in America Festival (2018). Photo by J. Kane.

Feel the passion of Philadelphia sports

Coming off their electrifying 2022 World Series run, the Philadelphia Phillies are a must-watch team in 2023. Expect a sea of fans outside of Citizens Bank Park – the team’s home in South Philadelphia. Even if you can’t snag tickets to a game, heading to one of Philadelphia’s local sports bars can be just as exciting as sitting in the bleachers at the ballpark. 

A baseball diamond is in the center. Packed stands with fans surround the field. The Philadelphia skyline is in the distance.

Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Be right near the action at Xfinity Live!, the ultimate entertainment center just steps away from the Phillies’ home diamond. Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar is known for their signature crinkle-cut fries sprinkled with crabby spices. Garage Passyunk in South Philadelphia and Garage Fishtown are iconic spots for watching a game with lifelong fans of every generation.   

Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union are also back in action after an epic 2022 season in which they captured the Eastern Conference Championship. Catch a game at their waterfront home venue, Subaru Park, and cheer on the team with Union fans.

Philadelphia’s sporting ties run deep, including a 200-year rowing tradition along the Schuylkill River. On the weekends, Kelly Drive comes alive with spectators cheering on teams along the riverbank.

The river hosts some of the most storied events in the sport – including the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, the largest high school sprint race in the country. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the excitement while biking or strolling along the Kelly Drive riverfront path.  

Take a drive to Philadelphia’s Countryside

Summer is an excellent time to explore the wide-open spaces, charming gardens, and historical sites in Philadelphia’s Countryside, just a short drive from downtown.

At Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, enjoy dazzling daily fountain shows during the Festival of Fountains. In nearby Valley Forge, explore over 20 miles of multi-use trails and dozens of historic monuments at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Bright colorful blue, purple, yellow, orange, and red lights illuminate a large fountain at Longwood Gardens.

An evening fountain show at Longwood Gardens’ Main Fountain Garden. Photo by B. Mathias for Longwood Gardens.

Located just a short drive from downtown Philadelphia in Bucks County, Peddler’s Village  — the shopping and dining destination — presents special events and experiences all summer long. Throughout the summer, Peddler’s Village showcases larger-than-life sculptures by world-renowned master sand sculptors at Stories in Sand. In August, celebrate Peach Month with peach-themed food and drink specials at local restaurants and sidewalk sales from area shops.

Don’t let your summer adventures end here! Discover more Philadelphia experiences on our things to do page.