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.

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest is back on the Delaware River Waterfront / Photograph by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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 on May 12th, and their cool boho friend Cherry Street Pier continues to hold it down up north. Where to even begin? Let’s start with the Penn’s Landing stalwart that started it all.

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

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. They are also planning to have live DJs on Friday and Saturday nights all season long.

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, a bungee-trampoline attraction, and a carousel), nine holes of mini golf, and carnival games (win stuffed animals and random 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 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, a taco stand, and 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.

Spruce Street Harbor Park

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

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 (and tacos) 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.

Boardwalk eats at Spruce Street Harbor Park / Photograph by Laura Swartz

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 and family-friendly Sundays with Pop-Up Play. Stick around at night as the hammock lounge lights up in cascading, rainbow colors.

Independence Seaport Museum

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

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.) Its newest exhibit, At Water’s Edge, focuses on the people who have lived and worked along the Delaware for centuries. Artifacts on display include a portrait of Alice, the enslaved woman who managed and operated Dunk’s Ferry, a surveyor’s drawing of the now-non-existent Smith and Windmill Islands, and a chart made for William Penn in 1681.

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 …

Paddle Penn’s Landing

Paddle Penn’s Landing / Photograph courtesy Delaware River Waterfront

Beginning May 27th, 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). Paddle Penn’s Landing will operate on weekends only.

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, attend pop-up events, and grab an al fresco drink at the seasonal Garden. (There are also more French toast bites at the pier’s entrance.)

If you’re looking to pick up some unique finds this summer, check out their artisan markets and El Mercado throughout the year — plus Liberty Flea on the last weekend of May and the Live More Marketplace each month. And First Fridays bring performances, family art activities, and open studio tours, so be sure to check out what they’ve got planned each month.

Outdoor 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.

Last summer, a massive, three-level restaurant opened on Independence Seaport Museum’s outdoor decks. Liberty Point contains five bars, a stage featuring live entertainment, and even a little rowboat play area for the kids. The food menu is heavy on seafood, plus has burgers, tacos and plenty of apps. 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. It’s got DJs going till late, trivia Tuesdays, and live music all season. 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 the waterfront’s newest addition: Fringe Bar. Replacing FringeArts’ La Peg, the new Fringe Bar flows into the outdoor Haas Biergarten, offering views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge alongside what they describe as “soulful pub cuisine” and “eclectic and funky beverage options.” What does that mean? Well, the menu ranges from burgers to sancocho to charcuterie and pimento cheese; drinks include beer, wine, and cocktails like Negronis and espresso martinis. And they’ve got entertainment planned all season, from jazz ensembles to cabaret.

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.