Philadelphia City Guide

By: Mary Mihaly

Relaxing and Unwinding in Philadelphia

©2006 Jim McWilliams In Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, the world's biggest landscaped city park,you can play tennis or golf, do a bit of horseback riding, or even rollerblade.

Whether your idea of relaxation is rock climbing or people-watching, Philadelphia has choices to suit every preference. Many can be found in magnificent Fairmount Park, which at 8,700 acres is the world's biggest landscaped city park, with 100 miles of paths and trails. You can rent sailboats here, or visit a Japanese teahouse, or just lie in a meadow and watch the clouds.

Philly doesn't have a natural beach, but the 87 municipal pools are free. Tennis, golf, horseback riding, and rollerblading all happen in Fairmount Park, and there are plenty of spas and health clubs when you feel like working out or being pampered. You can even take a quick class in belly dancing.


Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing and Unwinding in Philadelphia

A good lazy day in Philadelphia starts with the paper and a great coffee bar, and La Colombe (130 S 19th St) is the best. A good way to tell: you'll see the city's best restaurateurs there, waking up after a late work night.

Those who can't bear to start even a "day off" without first checking their e-mail duck into the ING Direct Cafe (at Walnut and 17th Sts), where the coffee is good and the Internet access is free.

Golfers wouldn't think of spending a relaxing day any other way but on the links, and Philadelphia offers several opportunities to do so. Walnut Lane Golf Course (800 Walnut Lane), 5.8 miles from Philadelphia, is an 18-hole, par-62 public course. Golfers should be aware that it has a few small sand bunkers incorporated into its design and the narrow fairways are lined with trees.

The Philadelphia Quartet Golf Club (1075 Southampton Rd), 15 miles from the city, is a nine-hole, par 54, semi-private course that only offers public play during the week. A beautiful creek, wide fairways, and well-bunkered greens are located on the property. The John F. Byrne Club Golf Course (9500 Leon St) is an 18-hole, par-67 public course. Make sure to bring an extra ball or two in your bag prior to teeing off because water hazards come into play on six holes. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Course (20th and Pattison Ave) is an 18-hole, par-69 public course with an open front nine and a tight back nine and water hazards on eight holes. The Bala Golf Club (2200 Belmont Ave) is an 18-hole, par-68 private course built on rolling terrain with small greens, deep bunkers, and water hazards that come into play on four holes.

If fishing is your way to unwind, both Pennypack Creek and Wissahickon Creek are stocked April through December -- but don't forget to buy a license, which costs $15 for three days. Pennypack Creek cuts across northeast Philadelphia, while Wissahickon Creek runs through Fairmount Park in the northwest corner. Maps with access information are available at the Municipal Services Building (1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd), where you also can purchase your fishing licenses.

If pampering means a facial, try the "Sun-Kissed Sea Facial" at RejuvinEssence (2535 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley). The 90-minute citrus experience will have you glowing head to toe.

As for the men, they can go to Shaving Grace (269 Main St, Exton) for the "Straight to Heaven" package: a straight-razor shave, 60-minute massage, haircut, manicure and cigar.

If you'd rather not strike out on your own in Philadelphia, an organized tour might be the way to go. Keep reading to learn about tours you can take while visiting Philadelphia.