Things To Do in the Delaware Valley with Kids: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Picnic Spots

Make your own music on rocks at Ringing Rocks Park. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
Make your own music on rocks at Ringing Rocks Park. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
4/19/24 - By Brianna Angelucci

With summer just around the corner, there is nothing I look forward to more than those long hours of sunshine, taking the kids outside, walking to our local farmer's market and just enjoying the outdoors without the rain and pollen that have kept us housebound for the past few weeks. Hiking, biking and picnicking are great activities for children of any age and can provide years of fun family memories. Here are some of our favorite spots in the Delaware Valley, otherwise known as the Greater Philadelphia area.


Picnic Places

If you're looking for a quick excursion outside to fit into the rest of your busy weekend of soccer practice, family parties, and playdates, a picnic is ideal. With a little planning, this can be an easy and quick adventure that won't kill an entire day of your weekend.

Lower Perkiomen Valley Park — Oaks

A favorite spot for picnics is Lower Perkiomen Valley Park, adjacent to the Perkiomen Trail, which runs through Valley Forge and along the Perkiomen Creek. This park is great, because it appeals to children of all ages. There is a huge parking lot at the entrance off of Egypt Road so, regardless of how crowded the trails are that day, you are guaranteed a spot. Additionally, there are countless shaded picnic tables and grills. Since the park overlooks Perkiomen Creek, you can also take the kids fishing, and the small paths connecting the picnic sites to the main trail are perfect for the very youngest of children who want to bring their tricycles and circle around while lunch is being set out. They can also enjoy the on-site playground. If you have older children, bring your bikes and extend your visit! The park is open daily from 8am to sunset, and leashed dogs are welcome.

Ringing Rocks Park — Upper Black Eddy

If you have a little more time in your day, try a visit to Ringing Rocks Park in Bucks County. Not only is this a great picnic spot, but after you eat, take the kids for a hike and visit the famous rocks that sound like bells when struck. Don't forget to bring hammers with you to hear this beautiful phenomenon!

Fairmount Park and Schuylkill River Trail — Philadelphia

When you live downtown and are strapped for time, there's no need to look further than your own neighborhood. Philadelphia has some of the best green spaces and family-friendly parks of any city. Pack a basket and head to Fairmount Park or the banks of the Schuylkill River​. You can't beat the riverfront view and the excellent people-watching opportunities.

Fort Washington State Park — Fort Washington and Flourtown

Located between the towns of Fort Washington and Flourtown, Fort Washington State Park takes its name from a temporary fort used by George Washington before proceeding to Valley Forge. The two sections of the park, combined, boast over 300 picnic tables, as well as pavilions available for rental. ADA accessible picnic tables and parking spaces are marked throughout the park. If you visit in the Fall, bring binoculars and head for the Hawk Watch Observation Decks in the Militia Hill Day Use area. The park also includes 4 miles of easy trails, fishing, and the Clifton House Museum, featuring local history displays and artifacts.

Ridley Creek State Park — Media

A gently rolling mixture of grassy fields and woodland, Ridley Creek State Park is more than 2,606 acres, bisected by Ridley Creek. Perfect for picnicking, there are several areas throughout the park, accessible by car, with groups of picnic tables, many of them close to little playgrounds. If you start at the main entrance on Gradyville Road, there is ample parking, restrooms, a visitor's center and picnic tables. Or meander through the park on the paved roads to find less frequented spots. The multi-use trail is a 4.3-mile loop with access from various parking areas. Paved, it's good for bikers, hikers, strollers, and even dogs! In addition, there are 17.7 more miles of hiking trails through a variety of habitats.

FDR Park — Philadelphia

Located in South Philadelphia, FDR Park boasts lakes, architecture, nature trails and ample picnic grounds. In addition to enjoying the greenspace, check out the weekly free programming, such as nature walks, workshops and more.

Hiking Trails

Perkiomen Trail — Oaks to Green Lane

​For children of any age, the Perkiomen Trail has a lot to offer. There are several entrances along the 422 corridor between Valley Forge and Collegeville, and beyond. The trail is about 20 miles long, winding through the wooded areas and rural and suburban areas of Montgomery County. Its flat, paved surface makes it ideal for biking, hiking, jogging, horseback riding and even cross-country skiing in the winter! There is a cell phone tour that gives guide information at each stop.

Meet the turtles at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Photo by the author

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum — Folcroft

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum offers a variety of hiking trails, with some paved or gravel and others unpaved. The ten miles of trails include a 3-mile loop trail and other short side trails.  But an even bigger draw is the wildlife. The National Audubon Society has designated the refuge as an Important Bird Area. Other great family activities here include fishing and canoeing. The trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset, and the Visitor Center is open daily until 4pm. The main entrance is at 86th Street and Lindbergh Blvd, but there is a smaller entrance on Route 420 just before the I-95 entrance ramp if you plan to skip the Visitor Center. 

Struble Trail — Downingtown

For Chester County residents and visitors, there's the Struble Trail in Downingtown. During the entire length of the trail, you will only cross one road, which gets very little traffic. It's wooded and mostly flat, so it's ideal for families with younger children who can't handle the slightly more rugged paths of other trails. They sometimes schedule kids' hikes, so check the calendar.

Peace Valley Park — Doylestown

Located on the shores of Lake Galena, Peace Valley Park offers 14 miles of both asphalt trails and natural terrain, including a 4-mile loop around the lake. Do any portion of the loop, or select one of the shorter treks. The park also offers boating, boat rentals, fishing, and playgrounds. Visit the Nature Center, along with the nearby bird blind to watch feathered friends as they visit the feeders.

Tyler State Park — Newtown

A 1,711-acre park, Tyler State Park is great for hikers, bikers, and even equestrians! Located on former farmland, just 33 miles from Center City Philadelphia, the park is divided into sections by Neshaminy Creek. In addition, check out the environmental education opportunities, such as history hikes, guided walks, and group programs. On top of that, the Tyler Park Center for the Arts is located in the former hay barn, offering workshops and classes, as well as an annual Crafts in the Meadow fall show. And the Spring Garden Mill, once a grain and feed mill, houses the Langhorne Players, a community theatre group that puts on innovative plays and cultural events.

Biking Trails

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum — Folcroft

A lesser-used trail but a favorite among Delaware County locals is at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Why? It's flat, mostly paved, and completes a 10-mile loop so you can start and end at your car without backtracking. If you have a baby in tow with a bike seat or if you're with older kids who can handle the length on their own, this is a perfect day trip. If you're with small kids on their own bikes, park at the Visitor Center and just go as far as they can handle, then enjoy the scenery! The trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset and the Visitor Center is open daily until 4pm. The main entrance is at 86th Street and Lindbergh Blvd but there is a smaller entrance on Route 420 just before the I-95 entrance ramp if you plan to skip the Visitor Center. 

Peace Valley Park — Doylestown

Enjoy the scenic trails along Lake Galena with trails good for all levels of cyclists. The 4-mile loop trail runs through different terrains, including woodlands and meadows.The paved multi-use trail is easier for beginners and therefore perfect for families. You'll only find one hill on it, at the northeast corner of the lake. 

Chester Creek Rail Trail — Middleton and Aston Townships

A work in progress, the Chester Creek Rail Trail will eventually run from the former SEPTA Wawa R3 station to Upland, PA. For now, the first phase is complete, in the heart of Delaware County. Phase 1 is 2.8 miles in length and follows the bed of the former Chester Creek Railroad between Lenni Road and Creek Road in a roughly NW-SE direction. Because it's a converted railbed, the route is flat and easier for beginning cyclists. While parking is limited at peak times, going on weekdays may help you snag a spot.

Darby Creek Trail — Havertown

The Darby Creek Trail includes different sections with different surfaces, but the most popular by far is the Center Segment, which is macadam and therefore good for hikers, bikers, and strollers, It connects the Merry Place park on Glendale Road to the school bus yard off of Old West Chester Pike and Hilltop Road, just south of Barnaby's restaurant. You can either park at Merry Place or at the other trailhead, with full parking directions on the map. Merry Place also contains some asphalt pathways that are good for beginning bikers, as well as a tot lot, basketball court, and more.

Schuylkill River Trail — multiple locations

An expansive trail that currently stands at 75 miles, the Schuylkill River Trail is broken up into several sections, starting in Philadelphia and stretching all the way to Frackville. The Philadelphia section starts with Bartram's Mile, in Bartram's Garden, and continues through East Falls and Manayunk. The section between Philadelphia City Line and Phoenixville connects with some local trails, such as the Perkiomen Trail. Since there are so many interesting sites along the way, plan your trip in advance with the interactive map.

However you intend to spend your summer weekends, don't forget to plan ahead with lots of sunscreen, water bottles, and some healthy snacks for the kids. Happy trails!


Writer Alyce Wilson contributed to the 2024 update.

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