Everything to Do, See, and Eat on the Delaware Waterfront this Season
The RiverRink and Spruce Street Harbor Park join a lineup that will keep you busy all spring and summer long.
When we can’t sneak off down the Shore, we grab a little slice of that boardwalk life much closer to home. Each year as the weather gets warmer, Philly flocks to the Delaware River Waterfront to play, eat, and explore — it’s become an all-ages oasis whether you’re looking for a family fun day, a picturesque date, or just day-drinking down by the river.
This summer, we’re ready to come out swinging. The RiverRink and its mellower cousin Spruce Street Harbor Park make their triumphant return, their cool boho friend Cherry Street Pier continues to hold it down up north, and a gigantic new restaurant has crash-landed atop the Seaport Museum. Where to even begin? Let’s start with the Penn’s Landing stalwart that started it all.
The centerpiece of Penn’s Landing’s “Summerfest,” of course, is its 12,000-square-foot roller skating rink. You’ll get skate time, tunes, and views of the river all in one afternoon. Skating admission is $5 (free for Independence Blue Cross cardholders), and skate rental is another $10 (save money by bringing your own). Tickets are available online. In person, you can also rent lockers and kids’ skate aids.
Skating is only part of what’s happening at Summerfest. There’s also a midway with rides (a 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel offering a bird’s-eye view of the river, and a carousel), nine holes of mini golf, and carnival games (win stuffed animals and random inflatable toys!).
Plus, Summerfest has an indoor arcade with plenty of old-school games (two-player Space Invaders!) and new favorites. Rides and games are pay-as-you go — a ticket booth at the foot of the Ferris wheel will get you access to rides and golf, and all the midway attractions are cash-only.
If you’re hungry, you can grab carnival-style concessions outside (think funnel cake, fried Oreos, cotton candy, and ice cream) or head into the Lodge where you’ll find a bar, as well as a Chickie’s & Pete’s outpost serving (what else?) crab fries.
Don’t forget to grab a picture on the giant red Visit Philly chair — then head to a smaller rocking chair on the porch to relax.
You might have to stake out a spot here on busy weekends, but SSHP is a prime place for lazing about, courtesy of colorful hammocks throughout the park. If you really want to guarantee yourself and your friends a spot, you can reserve one of the park’s hammock lounges in advance.
Or, you can venture to the floating-barge bar, which has a net lounge so you can relax while suspended four feet above the river. Aside from drinks at the bar(ge), you’ll find more food and drink options on the boardwalk, where each repurposed shipping container houses a food vendor — we recommend the French Toast Bites by Lokal Artisan Foods.
At the far end of SSHP, you’ll find another arcade, plus coin-op ride-ons. For the season, they’re planning makers’ markets on Saturdays, family-friendly Sundays, and the return of the Sistah Soul series highlighting local Black women vocalists. Stick around at night as the hammock lounge lights up in cascading, rainbow colors.
Between Summerfest and Spruce Street Harbor Park, Independence Seaport Museum is there to indulge all your seafaring dreams. Philly is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, so what better place to learn about maritime history? Be sure to check out boatbuilders at work in the on-site boat shop and the museum’s interactive exhibit, River Alive!, which focuses on all aspects of the Delaware River watershed, from wildlife to conservation. (Kids especially love this one.)
Then, head outside and grab tickets to tour two meticulously restored historic war vessels: the World War I cruiser Olympia and World War II submarine Becuna. And speaking of boats in the Delaware River’s tidal basin…
Beginning May 28th this season, you can grab tickets in the Seaport Museum for a swan (or dragon, or rubber ducky — the fleet keeps expanding) paddleboat. Tickets are $12 per-person for a half-hour rental. Note: Kids under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian, and all participants must weigh over 35 pounds (and fit safely in their life vests).
Of course, we can’t talk about Independence Seaport Museum without a nod to the waterfront’s newest attraction: a massive, three-level restaurant now occupying its outdoor decks. Liberty Point is the newest venture from Avram Hornik’s FCM Hospitality (Craft Hall, Harper’s Garden, and its older Delaware River Waterfront brother Morgan’s Pier), and it contains five bars, a stage featuring live entertainment, and even a little rowboat play area for the kids. Most importantly, it offers a full menu of beer, cocktails, mocktails, and frozen boozy delights that you can enjoy while taking in panoramic views of the river.
This one’s open year-round, but there’s even more to do (and eat) in the warmer months. Since 2018, this unique open-air, mixed-use space — formerly Municipal Pier 9 — has combined workspace and public space in a way that enhances both. Stroll through the pier past two levels of artists’ studios (with windows so you can see them at work), check out the art installations on view and pop-up events (like craft markets), and grab an al fresco drink at the seasonal Garden. There’s a revamped menu this year with new chef Miguel Angel Hernandez Mota serving up “Puebladelphia” cuisine, and of course plenty of beer and cocktail options. (There are also more French toast bites at the pier’s entrance.)
If you’re looking to pick up some unique finds this summer, look out for First Friday evening events that include artisan markets, as well as Liberty Flea on the last weekend of the month. The Philadelphia Ballet is also taking up residency at Cherry Street Pier, with their exhibit Behind the Stage Door on view through May 24th and a free, family-friendly concert on May 22nd.
Bonus: If you still haven’t signed your kids up for camp this summer, Portside Art Center is hosting four weeks of half-day camps at Cherry Street Pier from June 27th through July 29th. The camp is small, with only a 10-child capacity, so sign up for that soon if you’re interested.
Admission is free for all locations along the waterfront; attractions and food are pay-as-you-go. In addition to street parking and a dedicated lot at RiverRink, the Phlash bus stops at Penn’s Landing and there are multiple Indego stations and bike parking on-site.