5400 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19143 / website
There are three places by the Philadelphia Airport that people can live in Philadelphia their whole lives and never make it to; Simeone Car Museum, Fort Mifflin and Bartram’s Garden. It was the 2015 Philadelphia Honey Festival that led us to Bartram’s for the first time. Bartram’s Garden is a 45 acre National Historic Landmark. John Bartram (1699-1777) was a PA Quaker, besties with Benjamin Franklin and a plant freak. He collected so many species of plants from North America that scholars in Britain sought out plants from his garden. In 1765, Bartram was appointed the “Royal Botanist” by King George III. The garden remained in the Bartram family, was then bought by a wealthy railroad industrialist, then threatened by the bustling urban crawl of Philadelphia, was taken into the city’s possession in 1891 and then in 1893 the John Bartram Association was founded. Whew!
I don’t usually give you a history lesson with my reviews but to be honest Bartram’s just doesn’t seem like much when you are there so I think it is important to understand it’s history. I’m going to level with you. I have no idea how to write this review. I think the history of Bartram’s is wonderful. I think the work they do there is really cool. I think it is very well maintained, relaxing and peaceful, but I really don’t feel the need to go back again. Please keep in mind I am look at Bartram’s from the perspective of a family adventure or a place for a parent and child to check out during the day. I think if you have a 2 or 3-year-old and you want a couple of hours to picnic and explore a fairly manageable space you should add this spot to your list. I also think if you totally love garden and plants this is a spot you will fall in love with.
If the boys were younger I would pack some toys, a picnic and set ourselves up at the Eastwick Pavilion. The Eastwick Pavilion sits on top of a grassy slope and looks onto the river. On our way to the pavilion we would check out some of the gardens, buildings and probably it would last about 90 minutes. There are also boat rides that you can take, which friends have said they make a yearly tradition of doing with their children.
We skipped the boat ride but the boys found the grassy slope, giant branches which became swords and they even founds a bunch of animal skulls. Urban nature at its finest.
At the event everyone I talked to said that they had been there because of a wedding. That I can totally see being an awesome spot for a “natural” wedding. The other things I do think it is amazing for are naturalist and avid gardeners, classes, summer camps and field trips.
Last Note: Bartram’s is in the middle of a tougher neighborhood. I tried to check it out once. I drove down the wooded drive, there was a woman who did not look very coherent standing in the middle of the road and coming to a grassy meadow with no one around and having two little toddlers in the car I just did not feel comfortable and didn’t really understand the purpose of the place in general so I actually left. This time when I turn down the drive a teenager just walked in front of the car and called me every name in the book. I don’t want to deter you from going or ever trying something new because everyone’s experience will be different. My job is to manage your expectations by giving you a general idea of a place so you can plan the best trip for your family. The best time for you to check it out is like when we did during an event or festival. *During the event they charges $5.00 for parking but it is free normally.