What’s to love
Almost 150 years ago, when massive crowds descended on Philadelphia to attend the country’s first World’s Fair, the grounds and greenhouses at Centennial Arboretum delighted spectators with a unique collection of horticultural specimens from around the world. And they still do! Although the original buildings were destroyed in the 50’s—thanks, fire—there’s an awesome greenhouse here today.
The arboretum doesn’t have many proper hiking trails, but west Fairmount Park’s hidden history makes the trip worthwhile. Around every turn of these manicured paths you’ll find unique plants, water features, sculptures of famous musicians and writers—and of course there’s Shofuso, a replica of a traditional 17th-century Japanese house and garden.
This is a great place for a casual stroll, a picnic, or some birding.
Tips and quirks
- In April, The Centennial Arboretum hosts Philly’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
- You can tour both the Horticulture Center greenhouse and the Japanese House, but they’re sometimes reserved for events, so you might wanna call ahead.
- In recent years Philly’s wandering beer garden, Parks on Tap, has also been setting up shop here. Check the website to see if they’re there now!
- Belmont Plateau is within walking distance from here, so if you’re really jonesing for a walk in the woods it would be feasible to do both.
- Legend has it that a Lenape burial ground is nearby (perhaps, in fact, right beneath the Schuylkill Expressway), and a great stone turtle made of boulders can still be found in the ravine somewhere between the arboretum and Memorial Hall.
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Last updated: April 16, 2021