Bookmark This: A Handy Map of Fairmount Park’s Secret Gems

Boxers’ Trail | Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Just in time for your daydreams about the weekend to start up, the folks over at Curbed Philly have created a handy 17-stop map to Fairmount Park’s greatest hidden gems. And we want to go to ALL of them this weekend … but that seems an impossible task, so we’ll settle for getting to them all before summer comes to a close. We suggest you do, too.

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Bring Back the Fairmount Park Guard

Stereoscopic image of Fairmount Park guards, circa 1880.

When the neighbors in expensive homes near Fairmount Park’s Devil’s Pool recently complained of trash, debris, and decadent behavior from the many visitors to Philadelphia’s rare geologic wonder, my first thought was, “Bring back the Fairmount Park Guard.”

The Park Guard, an elite troupe of policemen whose job it was to patrol the park on horseback, was subsumed into the Philadelphia Police Department in 1972 by then-Mayor Frank Rizzo. Since then the park has never been the same. Read more »

Yay! Greenhouse Yoga Is Back in West Fairmount Park 

Yoga at the Horticulture Center | Casey Kallen Photography

Yoga at the Horticulture Center | Casey Kallen Photography

If you’ve been thirsting for some greenery in your life (winter has that effect, doesn’t it?), take note: The Fairmount Park Conservancy is bringing their greenhouse yoga series, held at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park, back this winter, with four dates slated for January and February. And get this: the 90-minute mini-vacation that is a yoga session surrounded tropical plants galore will only cost you $10. Yep: 10 bucks. How’s that for an affordable winter blues cure?

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Bookmark These: Running and Hiking Routes to See Fairmount Park’s Historic Mansions on Foot

Mount Pleasant Mansion | Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Mount Pleasant Mansion | Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

This past weekend, the Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted their third annual Jingle Jog, which takes runners on either a five-mile or 8.2-mile route through Fairmount Park to see the park’s historic mansions all decked out for the holidays. If you missed it because too many Friday happy hour margaritas (hey, it happens), not to fear: The folks at the Fairmount Park Conservancy posted the two routes from the Jingle Jog, which you can tackle running or hiking, on their blog today.

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Tour the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park During ‘A Very Philly Christmas’

Laurel Hill Mansion. Photo by Lauren Schwarz

Laurel Hill Mansion. Photo by Lauren Schwarz

It’s the 45th year for the holiday house tours in Fairmount Park and the six historic homes known as the “Park Charms” are all decked out and ready for visitors. They open Thursday, December 1st, with new events tied to this year’s theme, “A Very Philly Christmas,” taking place over two weekends.

Saturday, December 3rd, is Sounds of the Season day, with Philly musicians playing in different houses throughout the day, including the Mummers All Stars in Lemon Hill Mansion and Cedar Grove, the Clef Club in Mount Pleasant, the Quiet Storm doo-wop group in Laurel Hill Mansion, Opera Philadelphia Victorian carolers in Woodford, and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra string quartet in Strawberry Mansion. The roving beer garden Parks On Tap will be popping outside of Strawberry Mansion. Read more »

11 Things You Might Not Know About Boathouse Row

Ben Yanis | Flickr

Ben Yanis | Flickr

It all started with a dam.

In 1821, the City of Philadelphia dammed the Schuylkill River as part of a complex plan to provide clean water to the city. The dam, the longest in the country at the time—its walkway was 235 feet long and 26 feet wide—and the Water Works on a bluff above it called Fair Mount, became famed tourist attractions. Perhaps more importantly, the dam created an enormous stretch of calm water on which citizens could practice and observe what soon became the most popular spectator sport in the country: the racing of rowboats. In her forthcoming photo-packed book Boathouse Row: Waves of Change in the Birthplace of American Rowing (Temple University Press), former Inquirer reporter Dotty Brown delves river-deep into the history of the city’s rowing culture and the landmark clubhouses built to further it, as well as some of the city’s most enduring characters. Last Saturday night, in conjunction with the first-ever Philly Free Streets festival, Boathouse Row celebrated an upgrade to its LED lights with an Instagram-worthy light show. Here, some of the history behind Boathouse Row and how those lights wound up there. Read more »

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