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There’s more than just the requisite jog up the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Rocky Steps” to get your blood pumping in this town.
WALK & BIKE
While strolling the quaint streets of Center City—particularly around and between Rittenhouse and Washington Squares—is always a favorite activity of ours, for more of an effort, try walking, biking, or rollerblading the Schuylkill River Trail. The trail in its entirety will be 130 miles (209 km) when completed, but the Philly section is just about 10 miles (16 km). You can pick up the mostly paved path near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it follows the river toward Manayunk, a lively, shop-filled neighborhood in northwest Philly. If you’re biking, definitely travel most of those miles to Manayunk, where the trail incorporates the Manayunk Canal towpath. Up for a slightly longer haul? Just keep going: It’s only 23 miles one-way from Center City to historic Valley Forge.
Note: If you’re an experienced cyclist and want a real two-wheeled challenge in Manayunk, detour inland from Main St. to Levering St., and take a shot at the half-mile “Manayunk wall,” an infamous, super-steep (up to 17% grade) two-street area that’s an integral part of the annual Philadelphia International Cycling Championship (whose riders have to climb it 10 times). Beware of local traffic—it’s a narrow two-way street.
Get a different perspective of Philadelphia—from one of the two rivers that snake alongside it—during the warmer months: From June through October, $40 buys you a guided kayak tour of the Schuylkill River from the Walnut Street dock, courtesy of Hidden River Outfitters. There’s also $8 30-minute (guided) kayaking on the Delaware River side, from Penn’s Landing Marina (summers only, Fri.-Sun., weather permitting; check this site for current details).
An awesome indoor workout awaits at the Go Vertical rock-climbing gym and school (950 North Penn St., map), the largest of its kind on the East Coast—there are some 250 climbing routes up at any given time. Day passes for the experienced start at $19 (plus equipment rental, if needed); beginners can sign up for an intro class or stop in for three supervised climbs ($25).
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