When William Penn laid out the City of Brotherly Love, he incorporated five public squares, or parks, into the design. Today, the squares remain some of the most inviting – and dog friendly – features of this modern, bustling city. Exploring Philadelphia on a walking tour of the squares is the perfect way to spend a day with your best furry friend!
In 1682, William Penn sailed from England to the “New World” to inspect the land he’d received from King Charles II. Fleeing persecution, he chose a narrow two-mile swath of land between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers to establish his “Holy Experiment” – a tolerant political utopia.
Penn set about designing a colony where his brethren, the Society of Friends, or Quakers, could live in peace. His plan was to create a “Green Country Town,” abandoning the haphazard network of old horse tracks the English used as streets for a simple-to-navigate grid. It was the first iteration of classic American street design.
Philadelphia – A City Of Squares
Hoping to create a city free from the overcrowding, fire, and disease that plagued European cities, Penn included five public squares or parks in the city plan. He placed one in each quadrant of the city and one in the center, giving all residents easy access to nature and a place to enjoy the fresh air.
He named his utopia Philadelphia, and those squares remain some of the most inviting – and dog friendly – features of this modern, bustling city.
Taking a walking tour to Philadelphia’s squares is the perfect way for you and your dog to spend a day getting to know the city and appreciating Penn’s vision. Settle on a bench and listen to the birds chirp. Watch the people (and squirrels) hustle by. And relish these tranquil spaces in the midst of the city’s constant motion.
We’ve laid out a route that will take you through beautiful neighborhoods, past important historical landmarks, and past plenty of places with eats and drinks. So put on your walking shoes, grab a leash, and let’s go!
We start our dog friendly Philadelphia walking tour in the northeast section of Center City at Franklin Square. This is primarily because it’s one of the easiest places to find parking! There are several parking garages nearby, and on-street parking is also available on many side streets.
Franklin Square sits at the crossroads of China Town and Independence National Historical Park, giving it a unique and interesting atmosphere. During our visit were delighted to find the park adorned for the Chinese Lantern Festival!
Even when the Franklin Square isn’t decorated for a festival, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained in these seven acres. The colorful Parx Liberty Carousel, historically-appropriate Philly Mini Golf course, and tempting SquareBurger, all surround the beautifully restored fountain which was built in 1838.
Washington Square (Via Independence Mall)
Leaving the southeast corner of Franklin Square and heading south on 6th Street brings you to Independence Mall. This stretch between Race Street and Walnut Street delivers some of Philadelphia’s most notable historic sights.
The National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, and Congress Hall – where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were drafted and signed – are all here. America truly was born on these grounds!
You can also catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell. And don’t forget to stop in at Independence Hall National Park, where your pup can earn his BARK Ranger badge!
READ MORE ⇒ 60 National Parks Where Your Dog Can Be A BARK Ranger
Of course, pets cannot go inside the buildings and museums. But Independence Mall is a lovely, grassy place to walk. And there are plenty of places to wait if someone in your group wants to see the exhibits or museum. It’s also a nice spot for some photo ops.
READ MORE ⇒ 6 Simple Steps To Get Your Dog Posing For Photos
Following the mall south down 6th Street brings you to Walnut Street and the next stop on our Philadelphia walking tour … Washington Square. This is the quietest and most peaceful of the Penn’s parks. Massive old trees stretch their branches and create tempting pools of shade where you and your pup can pull up a bench and cool your heals.
Rittenhouse Square (Via Locust Street)
Locust Street is interrupted by the southern end of Washington Square, so it’s easy to find. This is our preferred route to Rittenhouse Square because it provides some fantastic examples of Philadelphia’s famous row homes.
You’ll pass several restaurants with sidewalk seating. If you’re getting peckish, stick your head in and ask if the outside seating is pet friendly. One of the things we love most about Philly is that nearly every restaurant with tables outdoors welcomes dogs!
READ MORE ⇒ Taking Your Dog To Pet Friendly Restaurants
Walk about a mile west on Locust Street and you’ll run right into Rittenhouse Square. This is the city’s most popular square and gets quite crowded on gorgeous afternoons.
Rittenhouse is Philadelphia’s front yard, and it’s surrounded by hotels, restaurants (many with pet friendly sidewalk seating), stores, and residential buildings. It’s a meeting place, a spot to read a book or newspaper, and the perfect destination for a picnic.
But before you get comfortable, cut across to the south side of the Square at 19th Street. Metropolitan Bakery makes delicious treats for dogs and humans. Pick up a snack, then cross the street back into the park and check out the beautiful mosaic fountain.
Skipping Logan Square In Favor Of Fitler Square
This is where our dog friendly Philadelphia walking tour takes a little detour. The next logical stop when visiting Penn’s original squares is Logan Square. And though its fountain and views up and down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway are fantastic, we find this park lacks a bit of ambiance.
First, Logan Square is actually a circle. And with four lanes of traffic whizzing around the exterior, it’s hardly tranquil. Logan is a pretty square to walk through, but doesn’t make our list of places to hang out.
As an alternative, we suggest a visit to Fitler Square. Though it wasn’t on Penn’s original plans and is smaller than the other squares, it has its own charm.
To get to Fitler Square, leave Rittenhouse heading south on 19th Street and turn west on Pine Street. Enjoy the stroll through one of Philadelphia’s quieter residential neighborhoods up to 23rd Street.
Dogs need to stick to the paved pathways in Fitler Square, because the park is on the small side and is shared by families with young children who like to play in the grass. There is another fountain here, and several interesting sculptures around the park to enjoy.
Special treat: An additional benefite of visiting Fitler Square is that just two blocks west is Schuylkill River Park with it’s off-leash dog park. Your pup can spend some time off-leash socializing and romping with the local pooches!
City Hall And Dilworth Park
The fifth and final square on our Philadelphia walking tour is the heart of the Philadelphia. This is the center square in Penn’s original plan — City Hall and Dilworth Park. To get there continue north on either 23rd or 25th (depending on whether you opted to go to the dog park) to Market Street. Then turn right (east) and continue to City Hall.
Situated in Philadelphia’s financial district, Dilworth Park feels more urban than the other squares, but is no less interesting. Make your way around the massive City Hall building to view several sculptures. Walk through the arched stone passages to see the interior courtyard. And then get a table at the café and watch the kids splash in the dancing fountain.
BONUS: Love Park
No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a photo by the LOVE sculpture. And Love Park is just steps from City Hall!
From there it was time to head back to our car. The complete round-trip was 4.6 miles of easy walking, with scads of opportunities to rest, snack, and rehydrate along the way.
Many stores and restaurants also provide drinking water for your pup, but it’s a good idea to bring water and a collapsable bowl anyway.
We hope you enjoyed touring Philly with us, and we wish you a great time seeing it for yourself. Find places to stay, pet friendly restaurants, and more fun things to do together on GoPetFriendly.com!
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