College can be stressful, especially with finals week coming up. Sometimes the best way to relax is to take a break from your studies and get outside and do something active. Like going to a park! The weather is starting to get warmer and after a long cold winter, it feels great to feel the heat of the sun again. After living in the West Chester area for nineteen years, I have accumulated a list of a bunch of my favorite places to go when I am feeling overwhelmed and just want to have fun outdoors. These are 5 hidden gems that I think provide some of the best stress relief.
First Park: Okehocking Preserve
The first spot on the list is a park called Okehocking Preserve. It sits just outside of town and down West Chester Pike. This is one of my favorite places because it is a prefect spot to bring a dog. There is 180 acres of land and miles of trails for visitors to run, walk dogs, or hike. I used to bring my dog here all the time because there was a little bit of everything. There are multiple spots to go, such as down to a flowing creek, rocky terrain to climb, as well as big open fields to run freely.
Second Park: Brandywine River
Another place that not many people know about but is perfect for maybe having some fun with friends is the Brandywine River. Not only is there a decently sized park, but the river itself offers a ton of options in terms of activities. You can gather up a group of friends, grab some tubes and float down the river. There are no extreme rapids or anything so it is pretty mellow just like a lazy river would be in a water park. People also have setup various rope swings along the bank so if you feel so inclined to stop and hangout there you can also do that.
Third Park: Ridley Creek State Park
Ridley Creek State Park is my third suggestion and it has some of the most expansive trails in the area. I have been going there forever and still have not gone on every trail. If you love to hike and explore through woodland environments, then I would highly recommend checking this spot out. It is a great place to help take your mind off whatever is stressing you out because you can just get lost in there and enjoy nature.
Fourth Park: Willistown Preserve
One area that is most likely a little more unknown is the Willistown Preserve. This is another set of trails close to the Okehocking Preserve. This park is right next to my house and I think the best thing about it is that if you go a little further after the trail ends you will come across many horse farms which is something nice to end on. I really like this area because it is almost always empty. Nobody is on the back roads going past the horses and it is not often that you run into someone while on the trails.
Fifth Park: St. Peter’s Village
Finally, I recommend a park called St. Peter’s Village. This is the furthest away out of all of the parks but it is worth it. This spot offers a landscape that is unlike anywhere else around here. There is a big creek with a ton of huge boulders throughout the water. You could walk down the entire thing just by jumping from rock to rock. There are also bigger bodies of water where you can take a swim in. Overall, it is a great place to go with friends and explore for the day.
These five locations are all local and all places where I go myself to get outside. I know that studying for long hours can be very strenuous and sometimes the best remedy for that is to change up the setting and just relax.