We suffered through a long dreary winter, and now it’s time for trips down the shore, beer gardens with friends, and neighborhood block parties. Except … experts say the smoke-filled sky from Canadian wildfires may stick around for months. It seems to rain all the time. Plus, it’s unbearably muggy — dangerously so — all thanks to the El Niño climate pattern. Ugh. So much for your summer bucket list. Is it time to throw in the towel and watch reruns of your favorite show stuck on your couch while you eagerly await fall?
No! Fret not because there’s still plenty to do this summer safely indoors. Enjoy fun for all ages and every occasion, from museums to date nights to indoor green spaces. P.S. Bookmark this for a rainy day!
Go swimming. Inside.
Need to cool down your body temperature during these brutal heat waves? Get a membership at your local YMCA (about $59-$68 per month, for one adult) to access open swim hours. With locations with indoor pools at Christian Street, Columbia North, Northeast Family, Roxborough, and West Philadelphia, you can rely on The Y for all your aquatic aerobic needs.
Relax in a giant greenhouse.
The Fairmount Park Horticulture Center (open 8am to 6pm through October 31) is a free-to-enter, 31,000 square foot, all-glass home to year-round tropical plants and succulents, like native prickly pear cacti and dazzling, 6-feet-tall century plants. Popular for weddings, this spot also hosts yoga classes and kids’ activities. 100 N. Horticultural Drive
Challenge your friends to a game at Queen and Rook.
Queen Village’s chess-named game cafe and bar serves guests pints and snacks, and lets them choose from more than 1,300 board games ranging from classic retro family gems to modern favorites. 607 S. 2nd Street
Golf (and drink) indoors.
Perfect for date night, Libertee Grounds is a Northern Liberties bar and restaurant with nine Philly-themed holes of mini golf, and a menu of Asian-American goodness, including kimchi toast, hush puppies, masala nachos, Dan Dan noodles, plus microbrews, wine, cocktails and mocktails. Not feeling mini golf? Try their tabletop games and giant Jenga — just like at a PHS pop-up garden! Pro tip: Avoid the wait and make reservations in advance. 1600 W. Girard Avenue
Don’t skip that playground visit.
Just move it indoors to Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse. The recently revamped, 16,000 square-foot latter, recommended for ages 12 and younger, feels safe, inclusive, and imaginative. Children must be accompanied by adults, and adults must be accompanied by kids. 3500 Reservoir Drive
Escape to a medieval cloister.
Everyone is talking about Whistler’s Mother at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which makes this the perfect time to go there, but go … elsewhere. Tucked into Gallery 304, this all-stone in situ medieval cloister isn’t just art — it’s a place to absolutely chill and feel like you’ve traveled several centuries back. 2600 Ben Franklin Parkway
Climb rocks, indoors.
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Strap on your climbing shoes and take your pick between bouldering or rope climbing on routes marked with difficulty levels at The Cliffs at Callowhill or Philadelphia Rock Gym. Beginners can rent gear and take lessons at both locations. Seasoned experts can challenge themselves on difficult routes. All can take advantage of the fitness rooms and training areas for full-body workouts. PRG East Falls: 3500 Scotts Lane; PRG Fishtown: 2412 E. York Street; The Cliffs at Callowhill: 1010 Callowhill Street
Have a riverside picnic, under cover.
If you’re still itching to dine al freso-ish (with an amazing view of the Ben Franklin Bridge and Delaware River), head to Cherry Street Pier. The remade municipal pier always has exhibitions from artists-in-residence — through August 24, there’s one about the Philadelphia Negro Leagues — and buy handmade arts and crafts from local vendors. Indulge in goodies from food trucks and drinks sold out of an old trolley car. Pro Tip: Go on the first Friday of every month for additional programming, concessions and open studio hours. 121 N. Columbus Boulevard
Trade outdoor tennis for table tennis in Center City.
Ping Pong is totally having its moment, thanks to places like SPIN and PingPod. At SPIN, challenge friends to an intense round of table tennis, then unwind with food and drinks. Still, want to play but don’t have a partner? No sweat; PingPod has automated tables for one-person games. SPIN: 211 S. 15th Street, PingPod: 325 Chestnut Street
Walk among dinosaurs and other animals. Dig in sand — all indoors.
Dinosaur Hall may be the most famous exhibition at the Academy of Natural Sciences, but the Outside In exhibition has an XL sandbox that sort of feels like the beach (plus critters to admire and pet) and vintage dioramas that transport you to national parks galore. 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway
Go … ice skating!
Go from being hot and sticky in 90-degree temperatures to chilling out on an ice cold skating rink. Public skating at The Class of 1923 Rink takes place Wednesdays and Fridays, from 4:15 to 5:45pm, and Sundays from 1 to 2pm. Get a whole group together for a private party and enjoy a beloved winter activity during the dog days of summer. 3130 Walnut Street
Drink at a beer garden (that feels sort of outside).
If you can’t sit outside at a beer garden, at least you’re in a city that is chock full of breweries. Visit Yards Brewery to catch a Phillies game in their airy taproom. If you’re a real beer enthusiast, book a tour of their expansive brewing operations. Next up, try a brewery making a social impact and choose from our list of 13 Philly Breweries Where Giving Back is on Tap. 500 Spring Garden Street
Eat out … inside a greenhouse (or a plant shop).
Plant lovers to the front. Artesano offers a lush array of plants and eccentric art nestled in a small cafe in the heart of Manayunk. Grab a coffee or a cocktail while you enjoy the atmosphere, and don’t forget to grab some plants to inspire your green thumb. Then, have some sweets at Cake — inside a lush greenhouse in Chestnut Hill. Enjoy a dainty meal beside a trickling fountain and tropical plants. Artesano: 109 Green Lane; Cake, 8501 Germantown Avenue
Shoot some arrows.
Attend Open Range at Callowhill Archery for $15-30 an hour or schedule a private party in advance. Want to kick it up a notch? They offer classes in fundamentals and safety. Check out Survival Challenge Sundays to see if you’ve got what it takes to protect yourself in an interactive apocalyptic scenario. 446 N. 12th Street
Outdoor movies a no-go?
The Philadelphia Film Society is hosting a whole bunch of theme-based screenings at their Broad and Chestnut location and the Ritz Theaters, under rubrics like “Guilty Treasures” and trilogies (Star Wars prequels, anyone?).
Take your beach read indoors.
To Philadelphia Free Libraries. If you work, live, pay taxes, or go to school in the city, you are eligible for a library card granting you access to an expansive collection of entertainment. Kids and teens can enjoy special programming geared toward their age group, and adults can enjoy events, job search assistance, book clubs and more!
There’s so much to explore at the Parkway Central Library, you couldn’t possibly get it all done in one day, from rare books to art, map collections and more. 1901 Vine Street. Spend the summer taking in all the services and events this grand building offers. Head to the Falls of Schuylkill Library for a more romantic reading experience in a regal building from 1913 surrounded by lush seasonal foliage tended to by volunteers. 3501 Midvale Avenue. Get cozy in the small Fishtown Community Library, formally stable and fire station, for an intimate reading experience. 1217 East Montgomery Avenue. Check websites for hours.
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