Sister Cities Park
18th and Lombard (across from Four Season’s Hotel)/ Benjamin Franklin Parkway
6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Sister Cities Park is a new mini park that is wedged in one of the busiest sections of the city. Just across the street from the Four Season’s Hotel and the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul you will find this hidden gem. Here is the low down. The Children’s Garden is super nice and sweet. It winds up a small hill and you can look down onto the boat pond. There are misters and rocks and little stools all over the place. Like I said it is nice but it entertained the boys for about 2 minutes. The boat pond is mini with a zero elevation entry (think infinity pool for kids) but the bridge that you cross to get to the children’s garden runs along the tiny shallow pond and does not have any guard rails. If you have new walkers…or if you are trying to watch two children and one of them is a new walker this is just something that you have to navigate. Not a huge deal but I could totally see Ollie taking a tumble. The boat pond is set up so kids can rent mini boats or bring their own to float. The pond is so tiny I really suggesting bringing your own tug boat from the bath.
But the main attraction for my boys quickly became the “fountain” and at 9:30 a.m. soaking wet, running around and screaming they quickly became the main attraction for everyone walking by. I don’t really consider this a fountain because you are actually supposed to run through this one and get wet. Jets of water in a circle pattern randomly shoot out of the ground from 10 different locations soaking everyone that dares to stand close enough. The blue stone plaza that surrounds the fountain is large with stone benches all around it. They have positioned it just far enough in the park that you feel like the kids are protected from the traffic. Except for the entrance, the park has a low fence running all around it. To read about the inspiration behind the fountain click here. The boy easily spend 45 minute to an hour playing in the fountain.
For food and restrooms you have West Philly’s Milk and Honey Cafe who have set up shop right in the middle. They have both indoor and outdoor seating. Please note that if you click on the Milk and Honey Cafe link they have an image of a park but that is totally not what the park looks like…not sure why they would do that. Their image has been highly photoshopped making the park look spacious and huge which it is not. There is also a little Visitor’s Center just off of Milk and Honey. This is open 7 days a week and you can buy tickets for local attractions here as well.
Overall thoughts are….the park is cute and very well done. It will be a destination for the fountain and Milk and Honey Cafe but not so much for the boat pond and children’s garden. For parking the Sister Cities information site is totally unhelpful. There is kiosk (“metered”) parking all around that area but there is not a ton of it because you are in the center of major traffic. The Free Library of Philadelphia, Centeral Branch is just a stones throw away. Those, 2 hour limit, parking spaces right in front of the library turn over pretty often so next time I go that is probably going to be my best bet. I will be bringing my stroller b/c the area is so busy don’t feel comfortable carrying one and holding the hand of the other to get from my car to the park. I can see us packing lunch, going to the library and then heading to Sister Cities Park. If you check their calendar of events you will find some new kid programs starting in June. I will throw those on the Daily Options Calendar shortly. For more pictures of Sister Cities Park go to HipstHenry Flickr.
Thank you local Moms Maggie & Cynde for telling us to check this out!
* Soaked does not begin to describe the boys after playing in the fountain. On a hot day pack for this park like you are going to the pool. Towels, bathing suits and back up clothing are all a good thing to throw in the stroller. Or you can do I what did an stroller to Gap Outlet after wards on Chestnut Street for round two of clothing.
* I do think this spot will be crowded this summer with very few places in the city you are actually allowed to take a dip in. This will become a destination for city kids of all ages.
* There were a fair amount of homeless people walking through the park but they were petty much just passing through and just as interested as everyone else in the new park.