A Science-Backed Reason to Go Camping (Plus: Where to Camp Around Philly)

Spring is here, which means that the folks of Philadelphia have begun to emerge, slowly but surely, out of hibernation. Eventually, by May I’d say, this city becomes a different place — it’s more crowded than usual, but not yet as smelly as it will be once August hits and, after exploring the Wissahickon for weekends in a row, us Philadelphians get the urge to plunge into the woods outside the city.

And if you need an excuse to skip out of the real world for a weekend, let it be known: A recent study from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that a weekend in the woods can seriously improve sleep. Turns out, a weekend of camping can help reset your internal clock, which has probably (definitely) been affected by modern life (read: spending your entire life looking at screens). For the small study, researchers sent small groups camping in Colorado. After a week of camping, folks had reset their internal clocks to fall asleep and rise two or more hours earlier than before and lost a midday jet-lagged feeling they usually experienced. Long story short: Camping seems to be good for fixing sleep woes.

Now that you have an excuse to ditch town for a few days, the real question: Where to camp? Not to worry: We’ve got you covered there. We chatted with Christina Saboe, owner of Fireside Camp Supply, and Charlotte Bronner, co-owner of Trove General Store, to see where they go when the camping bug bites. Does hiking with waterfall views sound appealing to you? How about setting out on the water and canoeing your worries away? Below, their top picks for where to pitch a tent around Philly.

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Field Guide: 8 Hikes Near Philadelphia With Waterfalls and Gorgeous Views

Hikes Near Philadelphia With Waterfalls and Gorgeous Views: Hawk Falls at Hickory Run State Park | Photo by Flickr user lousyfocus

Hawk Falls at Hickory Run State Park | Photo by Flickr user lousyfocus

We survived another winter, Philly. Now that the thaw-out is officially setting in, it’s time to shed some layers, head outdoors and hit the trails.

“There are two things I look for in a hike: vistas and waterfalls,” says Carl Ewald, the original founder of TerraMar Adventures, a local club for outdoor enthusiasts, and author of a forthcoming hiking guide for our area. “We’ve got plenty of both right in our backyard.”

If you’re looking for hiking intel that goes beyond the Wissahickon, you’re in luck: We got Ewald to share his spots for a springtime hike near Philadelphia—some with bubbling waterfalls, some with sweeping views, and some with both. Fresh air is a given.  Read more »

50 Acres of East Fairmount Park to Reopen to Public After Years of Being Fenced Off

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Fairmount Park | Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Remember back when Emily, our fearless Be Well Philly leader, rappelled down 31 stories in the middle of Center City one weekday afternoon? Yes: 31 stories. Well, she did it for the experience, but the other 100 folks making their way down the building like Spiderman did it to raise money for Outward Bound. And when Emily chatted with the folks from Outward Bound about what they had coming coming down the pike, they mentioned the awesome Discovery Center — complete with an out-of-this-world high ropes course — they were at the tail-end of fundraising upward of $16 million for, to be built in the East Park section of Fairmount Park, by Strawberry Mansion.

And now fundraising is done, and it isn’t just the students of Outward Bound who will benefit: Mayor Nutter announced the plans to build the education-based Discovery Center, a partnership between Outward Bound and the Audubon Society, yesterday, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. And once the Discovery Center is completed, hopefully by the summer of 2017, Philly residents, along with students getting their outdoor education on at the center, will have access to 50 acres of land that’s been fenced off since 1970, including trails (hey, runners!) and a giant reservoir-turned-lake surrounded by wildlife and migratory birds. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Read more »

The Checkup: Never Had a Migraine? This Is What It Actually Feels Like

• Nearly 20 percent of women (and six percent of guys) experience migraines, but if you’ve never had one, it can be really hard to understand what it feels like. To help people get it, the folks over at the Huffington Post, got some great quotes — “It’s like a tire pump constantly filling up a balloon of agony that never pops, but pulsates for hours on end.” —  from migraine sufferers explaining what it feels like. [Huffington Post]
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Happy Trails: The Best (Less Crowded) Places to Hike Around Philly

Belmont Plateau Trails | Photo via Facebook

Belmont Plateau Trails | Photo via Facebook

Going hiking during a fall weekend is a no-brainer: It doesn’t cost a dime, you get your heart rate up, and, oh, the leaves. But a peaceful Sunday-morning outing can quickly turn sour when you find yourself literally bumping into strangers at every bend. (I love you, Wissahickon trails, but man, you are crowded.) Still, there’s no need to hole up in your house all autumn long. We asked around to find the best lesser-known—but just as beautiful!—spots every hiking enthusiast should trek to this fall. Just not all at once, please. Read more »

10 Best Picnic Spots in Philly 

Photo by Flickr user Rich Lee

Photo by Flickr user Rich Lee

Picnics are good for many things: soaking up some sun (with a layer of sunscreen on, of course!); avoiding a sad-desk-lunch situation; posting no-shoe, feet-on-blanket selfies designed to make all your Instagram friends green with envy, just to name a few. And, on top of all those very valid reasons to post up on a picnic blanket, studies show that getting out into a green areas is good for the brain. So below, our top picks for picnic spots in the city. We say grab a blanket, a basket of picnic-friendly snacks and some friends, and head to one of them today. Read more »

The Ultimate Outdoors Cheat Sheet for Summer in Philadelphia

Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

Summer is in full swing and, lucky for us, it seems the weather gods have blessed us with some pretty mild temperatures, easy on the triple-digit heat waves and heavy on the cooling rain. Meaning? Less time spent standing directly in front of the closest air conditioner and more time spent outdoors. Hallelujah!

But if you’ve been at a loss for what to actually do once you step outside — you know, aside from running to the closest beer garden — no worries: We’ve put together the ultimate cheat sheet for you to refer to. Below, you’ll find everything from where to camp to where to run to where to people watch. Print it out, paste it on your fridge, and squeeze the most out of your summer spent outdoors. Read more »

The Great(er) Outdoors: 5 Must-Try Outdoor Adventures Around Philly

outdoor adventures lead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Don’t tell my boss, but this time of year I find myself spending more work hours staring wistfully out my office window — the gorgeous sunshine! The crystal-clear skies! — than at my computer screen. My antidote: evenings and weekends spent soaking up as much fresh air as I can. Luckily, Philly brims with options for guided outdoor excursions where you can try all sorts of activities, from bird-watching to trail running to kayaking. Here, five nature-soaked diversions to add to your summertime to-do list. Read more »