8 places to eat lunch outside in Center City

Don’t waste the lunch hour at your desk this spring. Rather, take in some fresh air at one of Philly’s many parks, such as Washington Square, pictured here.

With 70- and 80-degree temps alas sweeping the calendar, it’s time to swap fluorescent lights for sunshine and break free from your desk during the lunch hour. Fortunately, downtown Philly is scattered with charming parks and other city spots perfect for chowing down outdoors — and avoiding can’t-find-a-seat restaurant situations. Whether you pack a sandwich or grab a bite to go, the following places across Center City and Old City invite you to take a break and refresh with a dose of nature on your side.

>> Read more: Drinking outdoors: The sky’s the limit

Rittenhouse Square Park

Perhaps one of the best-known spots among Center City lunchers is Rittenhouse Square Park, a one-square-block refuge of green-space right in the heart of the city. Benches lining the walkways and a grassy lawn spread across all four corners of the park create plenty of spots to take a seat, whether next to other picnickers or adorable pooches out for a midday walk. The square is also scattered with sculptures, including a two-foot-tall bronze billy goat, to admire on a post-lunch stroll of your own.

18th and Walnut Sts.

>> Read more: Take a hike! 6 Philly-area jaunts for beginners

John F. Collins Park

Named after its 20th century designer, John F. Collins Park provides a peaceful hideout away from the hustle and bustle of Chestnut Street. The hidden nook holds both tables and wooden benches, some of which sit aside a streaming fountain creating a soothing backdrop to the shaded space. The park is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1707 Chestnut St.

Camera icon GRACE DICKINSON / STAFF
At the center of City Hall, a courtyard full of picnic tables provides a pleasant lunchtime refuge away from traffic.

City Hall Courtyard

While the west side of City Hall draws a hefty lunch crowd overtaking Dilworth park, it’s at the center of the colossal building where possibly the most relaxing lunch seats reside. City Hall’s courtyard, filled with umbrellaed picnic tables, provides a sunny spot to enjoy a meal with a coworker away from the noisy traffic circling the building. Grab a seat, and take a moment while you’re there to gaze up at the grandeur of the architectural spectacle surrounding you.

1401 John F Kennedy Blvd.

Camera icon GRACE DICKINSON / STAFF
Picnickers, sunbathers, and those setting out with a book in hand all fill the spacious grassy area of Washington Square Park.

Washington Square Park

For those who work downtown on the east side of Broad Street, few more monumental parks exist than Washington Square Park. A large fountain shoots up at its center, surrounded by benches galore, many of which are shaded by towering trees overhead. It’s not uncommon to find picnickers and those sitting down with a book stretched across the park’s lawns, also largely shaded by nearly 60 species of trees.

210 W. Washington Sq.

Camera icon GRACE DICKINSON / STAFF
A peaceful spot tucked between side streets, Perth and Addison Park holds three often empty benches to take a seat.

Perth and Addison Park

Tucked between two small side streets in Washington Square West, Perth and Addison Park is one of the area’s best kept secrets. If you’re lucky, you might have the space all to yourself, sharing it only with the chirping birds resting in the trees. Take a seat on one of the few benches, and enjoy views filled with flower beds and surrounding Colonial homes.

420 S Perth St.

Camera icon GRACE DICKINSON / STAFF
Situated between a handful of Philly’s top attractions, Independence Mall serves as a spacious green-space to relax amidst historic views.

Independence Mall

Situated between the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, and several other popular attractions, Independence Mall provides a large grassy stretch to enjoy lunch amidst some of Philly’s richest historical monuments. The area is also filled with floral alcoves where benches await and lay just steps away from both the area’s Rose Garden and Magnolia Garden, two beautiful locaitons to explore on a midday walk.

6th and Chestnut Sts.

Camera icon COURTESY HISTORIC PHILADELPHIA, INC.
A fountain, carousel, and plenty of tables to take a seat for lunch all reside in the eight-acre Franklin Square, located on the edge of Chinatown.

Franklin Square

The eight-acre Franklin Square is a great lunchtime option for those who work a little further north of downtown. Beyond plenty of tables and benches, the park also holds the oldest surviving fountain of William Penn’s five original historic squares (inclusive of previously mentioned Rittenhouse and Washington Squares). Take a seat next to its shooting streams, and enjoy a midday meal. If you’re still hungry afterward, swing by the onsite SquareBurger for a Cake Shake (a milkshake blended with Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets), a popular summertime treat.

200 N 6th St.

Camera icon BRIANNA SPAUSE / Staff Photographer
Right on the Delaware River Waterfront, Race Street Pier offers a picturesque spot to relax for those who work in and around Old City.

Race Street Pier

Take in one of the most majestic scenes of the city at Race Street Pier, a spacious spot on the Delaware River waterfront offering beautiful views from beneath the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Ideal for those who work out of Old City, the riverside location often maintains a steady breeze, perfect for when lunchtime temps start to soar above the 70s.

Race St. & N. Columbus Blvd.