May is without a doubt one of the best months to be in (or near) Philadelphia: Everyone’s just so excited to see some sun again, it’s like the whole city is in a good mood. It’s also festival season, and garden season (and BEER garden season), and you can take the children outside without any danger of frostbite or mitten-related whining … it’s just a glorious, glorious time. And since there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy it with the family right now, here’s our quick rundown of perfect (outdoorsy!!) ways fill your May weekends.
HIT UP THE FESTIVALS.
The season has already kicked off — the Science Festival, South Street Spring Fest and Rittenhouse Row have come and gone now, but you can still catch:
––International Children’s Festival at the Annenberg, which runs May 7 to May 9. That fest isn’t just performances (although those are pretty awesome) — there’s also a kids’ fun zone with outdoor crafts, shows, face-painting and more.
—Plazapalooza, the South of South Neighborhood Association’s little fest on May 16, at 23rd and South Street Grays Ferry Triangles Plaza. It’s a cheery, neighborhood-focused little bash, and there’s food and drink from local spots, live music, games (giant Jenga!), and kids’ crafts.
–The Italian Market Festival, on May 16 and 17. This one’s always packed, but if your kids can deal, it’s always a good time, with good food (lots of that), games, crafts and the annual Procession of Saints, a cool Philly tradition that’s something everyone should see at least once.
FROLIC IN NATURE.
Ashley recently posted an awesome guide to the public gardens around here (and the best ways to enjoy them with kids) — that’s a super handy reference to check out this month, and throughout the summer. You should also know that May 23 is the grand opening of the Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum — there’s crafts and free ice cream (while supplies last, they warn– place gets crowded!) in addition to the main attraction, the train that runs on a quarter-mile track, through tunnels and and over bridges. This year’s track will feature miniatures of iconic Philly sculptures and buildings. Sounds cool! Also cool: The latest addition to the zoo’s Zoo360 Animal Exploration Trails, the Gorilla Treeway, which is an elevated mesh passageway for the gorillas over the visitor pathway. It opens this month (and is part of the zoo’s Year of the Gorilla); it joins the similar Big Cat Crossing, Great Ape Trail and Treetop Trail (for assorted monkeys and lemurs). Kids like ’em!
PACK A PICNIC AND/OR DINE AL FRESCO.
Our classic ultimate picnic brunch guide is, in our humble opinion, still a darn good picnic guide for lazy/busy picnickers who don’t actually want to pack a massive picnic at home– it’s full of ideas for what to grab in each neighborhood, and where you can then go park yourselves to eat. The other resource that comes in handy right about now is our round-up of five new kid-friendly spots where you can grab a table outside.
HIT THE WATERFRONT.
The Delaware River is continuing its reign of awesomeness this summer, guys, and it’s kicking off this month. First, there’s Art Star Craft Bazaar this weekend on May 9 and 10 — a giant collection of artists and artisans selling their stuff in dozens and dozens of booths set up at Penn’s Landing. It’s not aimed at kids per se, but you always see a bunch of little ones running around and in strollers — and there’s music and food to keep everyone happy. You’re also not so far from Franklin Fountain, for what it’s worth.
The other biggie on the Delaware this month is the return of Spruce Street Harbor Park (wheeee!) on May 22. It’s going to be even cooler, with more food options, more hammocks, a new “family entertainment area” and more of the same cool stuff we all loved last year. There’s also the debut of Summerfest on the waterfront, with the whole roller rink set-up, a ton of food and drink, a play area for kids, a cooling lodge with misters and fans, and more.