Your Guide to the Delaware Waterfront This Season

From a revamped Spruce Street Harbor Park to Beard-nominated food to a possible opening date for the demolished RiverRink, it’s sure to be an interesting season on the Waterfront. Here’s what will keep you busy on the Delaware all spring and summer long.


Waterfront lounging at Spruce Street Harbor Park / Photograph by J. Fusco for Visit Philly

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.

But things seemed a bit amiss as this season was approaching and I was planning content in May. For one thing, one of this year’s high-profile developments is the I-95 Cap Park, which we think will be amazing when it opens in 2028, but certainly throws a wrench in the site of Summerfest, Penn’s Landing. Furthermore, plans for the park hint at “a relocated RiverRink for ice skating in the Winter; and a water play area to cool off in the Summer.” No mention of a roller-skating rink with carnival games, rides and Crabfries. Oh no.

My contacts at the Waterfront were playing coy, Spruce Street Harbor Park was posting summer jobs, and I am the eternal optimist when it comes to Philly summer fun.

But my worries were confirmed when our features editor Bradford Pearson messaged me on Teams.

“On my run this morning I saw a guy chainsawing a pile of lumber labeled RINK … Good sign???”

waterfront summerfest riverrink penn's landing

Waterfront and Penn’s Landing under construction. / Photograph by Bradford Pearson

And here goes the Great Plaza being demolished. Isn’t that where the rink used to be?

waterfront penn's landing

Waterfront under construction / Photograph by Austin Marsdale

It was time for me to move into acceptance phase.

So … Blue Cross RiverRiver Rink Summerfest?

Despite all this, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation says Summerfest will still open this season. But not till June 28th. We’ll see if that timeline holds, and what this new Summerfest includes.

Meanwhile, Spruce Street Harbor Park makes its triumphant return on May 24th, with lots of new plans, food and features. And its cool boho friend Cherry Street Pier continues to hold it down up north, also with a new food and beverage program. So this summer looks a little different, but we’re ready for it. Let’s go!

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park / Photograph by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Opening May 24th, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, Spruce Street Harbor Park is taking its increased importance in the wake of Summerfest’s demolition seriously. The waterfront destination has gotten an overhaul with new food options and things to do.

One thing that’s remains a key feature of SSHP? The colorful hammocks. You might have to stake out a spot here on busy weekends, but this is a prime place for lazing about. If you really want to guarantee yourself and your friends a spot, you can reserve one of the park’s hammock lounges in advance.

For the season, they’re planning lots of weekly events, including Liberty Flea markets on Saturdays and family-friendly Sundays with Pop-Up Play. There will also be live music, DJ sessions, and lots more reasons to visit.

The new Lazy Hammock are is described as a “community-driven public space.” It features a covered bar focusing on local brews, a new stage and performance venue, and a 16-foot-high video wall to host watch parties. They’re planning concerts every other Saturday night.

And a new corner store, the Trading Post, will sell snacks, merchandise from local vendors and artists, and pints of Philly-made ice cream.

Food at SSHP

Speaking of ice cream, a new addition to SSHP is an outpost of Port Richmond parlor Somerset Splits. Expect sundaes and even old-school push pops!

Offerings from the Waterfront outpost of Somerset Splits / Photograph by Austin Marsdale

Also joining the SSHP food lineup? Little Fish! That’s right, the Bella Vista BYOB is coming to the Waterfront. And the menu is really intriguing. Expect oysters, shrimp cocktail, and a “Floagie” — that’s a fried-fluke hoagie.

Seafood from Little Fish joins the Waterfront’s food lineup this season. / Photograph by Austin Marsdale

In addition to these newcomers, favorites like Philly Taco, French Toast Bites, and Chickie’s & Pete’s (hello, Crabfries!). Check out all the menus here.

Waterfront food / Photograph by Austin Marsdale

Independence Seaport Museum

Climb aboard one of the historic ships docked on the Delaware Waterfront / Photograph by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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: The exhibit Pirates & Patriots lets you climb aboard a replica of the Schooner Diligence, an 18th-century ship that would have served in the early United States Navy, built right in that boat shop! (Plus, you get to learn the origin story of the Navy and the “little-known conflict they had with the pirates that plagued them” in the 18th and 19th centuries.)

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. Back again for a second year, ISM’s “Captain’s Corner” series will be offered once a month aboard the Olympia with talks that delve into the histories of the two ships.

For adults looking for a unique night out, the museum is planning Olympia After Hours, a series of speakeasy evenings in keeping with the historic warship’s Prohibition-era context. The evenings will feature live music, games, themed drinks and more. And, yes, 1920s costumes are encouraged. The first event will be held on June 14th, and also they’re planning special events like a Pride-themed edition in June, a sci-fi night in July and ’90s night in August. That’s 1990s, not 1890s, despite the old-timey setting.

Cherry Street Pier

Cherry Street Pier / Photograph by Maria Young

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 attend pop-up events.

If you’re looking to pick up some unique finds this summer, check out their artisan markets and El Mercado throughout the year.

And First Fridays bring performances, art activities, and open studio tours, so be sure to check out what they’ve got planned each month.

Food at Cherry Street Pier

Like their friend to the south, Cherry Street Pier has also overhauled its waterfront food options! This one’s really exciting, too, because beloved, James Beard Award-nominated Kensington spot Cantina La Martina is replacing the beer garden. The space will feature three different concepts from chef Dionicio Jiménez, each housed in its own little trolley.

New waterfront food offerings at Cherry Street Pier / Photograph by Austin Marsdale

The first will offer Mexican street food, in keeping with its namesake. The second, La Placita, will have Puerto Rican chinchoreo favorites, like plantain-heavy guacabori and canoas. And the final trolley, Irv’s Ice Cream, will serve exactly what it sounds like — ice-cream sundaes and other cold treats for those hot summer days.

More Waterfront Bars

liberty point waterfront bar

Cocktails and waterfront views at Liberty Point / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Aside from the official DWRC spots, there are some other riverside spots where you can grab a drink and some views.

Liberty Point, a massive, three-level restaurant opened on Independence Seaport Museum’s outdoor decks a couple years ago, and remains a behemoth. It contains five bars, a stage featuring live entertainment, and even a little rowboat play area for the kids.  At the bar? A full menu of beer, cocktails and frozen boozy delights that you can enjoy while taking in panoramic views (and Insta-worthy content) of the river.

The spring and summertime favorite Morgan’s Pier overlooks the Delaware River with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the marina below. Multiple outdoor bars serve up beer, specialty cocktails and slushy drinks. Yet it’s also kid-friendly: On weekend afternoons you’ll typically see multiple strollers and live music. Morgan’s Pier accommodates this audience with a kids’ menu, sippy cups and a changing table. While Morgan’s Pier’s closing time is 2 a.m., kids have to be out of there by 9 p.m.

And Fringe Bar flows into the outdoor Haas Biergarten, offering views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. They’ve got Pumphouse Pizza on weekends, build-a-burger Wednesdays, and a weekend brunch menu that pairs perfectly with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge. And they’re a great alternative to thos other waterfront bars that can get a little bro-y at times.

Admission is free for all locations along the waterfront; attractions and food are pay-as-you-go.