Walking through Philly’s own wonderland

Explore Fairmount Park like never before.
Fairmount Park Conservancy

When you think of the winter season in Philly, exploring the outdoors isn’t typically at the top of your list. However, a new way to explore Fairmount Park is here to change that.

Fairmount Park Conservancy recently announced a new way to traverse around the largest park in the city, and anyone can participate in this socially distanced exploration. The WinTOUR Scavenger Hunt is a free, all-ages virtual scavenger hunt that has Philadelphians embarking on fun and sometimes quirky “missions.” The best part? Those who participate in the hunt through the GooseChase App will receive a $35-level membership to Fairmount Park Conservancy which gets you free year-round events like guided hikes, walks, trail runs, yoga classes, bike rides and more.

Fairmount Park Conservancy

There are five different ways for Philadelphians to explore the park with routes running through East and West Fairmount Park. The themes range from historic homes, public art, nature, water, and past and present and the 80 total missions will direct people along the routes, present fascinating information, and best of all, provide fun challenges and fun photo opportunities.

This new experience will run throughout the entire winter season, so there is plenty of chances to complete as many routes as you want for the final prize. The official start date will be Dec. 21st, 2020 and the final day to complete will officially be on March 19th, 2021. In all, explorers will have 2,050 acres of trails, natural lands, historic landmarks, and public art to uncover.

This activity first hit it off in the fall season in Philly but has since been shifted to adapt to the colder months. “Thank you all for this engaging activity. I’m really enjoying myself so much through it and have seen parts of the park that I’ve never known about or stopped to explore despite living in Philly for 20 years,” a fall participant said in a statement.

Most of these missions are the same as they were for OcTOURber, but some have been updated. If you started playing during OcTOURber, the Conservancy says that you can pick up where you left off and keep working towards completing all 80 missions to win the $35 membership, or just start fresh in the winter to get moving outside and claim your prize.

Each themed route will have a way to get Philadelphians to a different part of the park and uncover places in their own city that they would have never known about before. The past and present route allows Philadelphians to explore Fairmount Park’s historic environment through the abandoned past and structures, as well as some still presently used, and learn some tales of bridges, tunnels, and trails that connect centuries of park infrastructure. Then, the water route will highlight the park’s initial purpose when it was built in 1885 to protect the Schuylkill River watershed, which continues to supply drinking water for the City of Philadelphia today.

The nature route might be the most needed after such a hectic year however. According to the release, spanning 2,050 acres, East and West Fairmount Park are great places to experience the gifts of nature; creeks, trees, wildlife and more. This map has recently been brought back to life to help visitors get better acquainted with the magnificent trees of the Centennial Arboretum at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. The map is from 2007 and originally created by the Longwood Graduate Fellows at the University of Delaware. It showcases 21 trees, a few of which are still around from the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, and a few of which are gone.

The houses route is another unique look at what inhabits this massive park in the city. Within Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park stands a group of 18th and early 19th-century historic houses established as rural retreats by prominent families of the city. While on this specific route, visitors will learn how these homes provided an elegant, fashionable and healthy summer retreat from Philadelphia’s urban environment, heat, and periodic epidemics while also standing at one time as single-family working farms, which included productive dairies, orchards, extensive fields, game lands, ornamental flower gardens and vegetable gardens. The houses are still standing today because of efforts from stewardship groups, partner organizations, community volunteers, staff and caretakers.

Fairmount Park Conservancy

Finally, the public art route is in partnership with The Association for Public Art (aPA). The park holds 100 pieces of public art alone and this week’s self-guided tour starts off near Lemon Hill and explores works including The Wedges, Stone Age in America, Playing Angels and much more. Aside from the new scavenger hunt, The Association for Public Art offers several walking and bike friendly tour maps and in depth information on most of the public art in Fairmount Park as well.

For more information and to download the routes and missions, visit myphillypark.org

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