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Philadelphia's Delaware River Waterfront

Date May 2, 2024

Philadelphia's Delaware River Waterfront

The Delaware River waterfront is called Penn’s Landing – named for Philadelphia’s founder William Penn – who arrived on its shores in 1682.

Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront is home to many of the city’s top outdoor experiences. It’s where you’ll find seasonal parks, historic ships, and delicious bites. The Philadelphia waterfront is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Here’s a guide on what to do, eat, and where to stay on the waterfront.

Things to Do

When planning your trip to Philadelphia, set aside some time to visit the following parks, ships, and piers along the Delaware River waterfront. With each attraction offering its own unique atmosphere, you won’t want to miss out on these experiences.

Pop By a Park

Check out the popular parks along the waterfront, including Spruce Street Harbor Park, a one-of-a-kind urban oasis located at Penn’s Landing. This seasonal, family-friendly park offers countless ways to unwind in the fresh air. There are hammocks you can lounge in and games like shuffleboard, beanbag toss, and life-sized chess. Grab a snack from one of the food vendors or a drink on top of a floating beer garden offering craft brews. In the evening, the park has a magical vibe thanks to hundreds of multicolor LED lights strung throughout the trees.

Two young women are shown smiling and holding drinks in their hands while sitting in orange Adirondack chairs on a boardwalk overlooking water. The water below them is lit up by colorful lights. Across the water, there is another area where multiple people are shown in front of a bright yellow and blue hut that has a sign that reads Philly Tacos.

Spruce Street Harbor Park. Photo by JPG Photo & Video.

In the summer, Independence Blue Cross RiverRink holds Summerfest, offering roller skating, mini-golf, carnival rides, and a Ferris wheel. This annual event typically kicks off in May and runs through Labor Day. In the winter, the space turns into Winterfest, a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, fire pits, and a Lodge. Winterfest is typically held in late November through early March.

A dark blue nighttime sky is overhead. Below, a roller skating rink by river, a Ferris Wheel, a carousel and arcade games fill an outdoor space in a carnival-like atmosphere. People are shown enjoying the festivities.

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest. Photo by M. Stanley for Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Board a Ship

You can also tour historic ships docked in the Delaware River. The Submarine Becuna patrolled the Pacific Ocean during World War II and sunk four enemy ships. It later sailed the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Launched in 1892, the Cruiser Olympia is the only surviving member of the naval fleet used in the Spanish-American War. The ship’s last mission was in 1921, carrying the body of the Unknown Soldier from France to the U.S.

The Independence Seaport Museum manages both ships. The museum features numerous exhibitions exploring the history and significance of Philadelphia’s waterways. During the spring and summer, the museum also offers on-water programming. You can rent boats to paddle in the marina or go on a kayak excursion along the Delaware River.

Visit a Pier

Stroll Race Street Pier, a picnic-friendly, multi-tiered park with Instagram-worthy views of the sunrise and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Walk or bike across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge’s pedestrian walkway, which connects downtown Philadelphia with Camden, New Jersey.

A large bridge soars overhead on the left. A pier stretches down the middle. To the right, there are trees and benches lining the pier. The river below reflects the sunlight coming from above.

Race Street Pier. Photo by M. Stanley for Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Built into the shell of a century-old municipal pier, Cherry Street Pier was redeveloped into a sprawling mixed-use public space. Much of the original structure has been preserved, including the original stone headhouses and exposed ceiling beams, creating a cool, industrial vibe. The pier serves as a collaborative creative space for artists and entrepreneurs. It features a performance and event space, food vendors, and pop-up shops for visitors, open year-round.

Washington Avenue Pier, also called Pier 53, features an elevated walkway and the Land Buoy. The Land Buoy is a 55-foot tall, spiral staircase that is open to visitors to enjoy a great view. The pier also honors the thousands of immigrants who passed through what was once called “Philadelphia’s Ellis Island.”

Where to Eat

If casual bites are more your style, check out The Bar at Cherry Street Pier. The pier’s open-air garden offers a unique waterfront dining experience in the spring, summer, and fall.

It is nighttime. The sky above is a dark blue. There are lights strung overhead, hanging from the roof of the pier. There are green plants spread throughout the space. Tables and chairs are stationed throughout. A few people are shown off in the back left, sitting around a table.

The Garden at Cherry Street Pier. Photo courtesy of Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

More riverside dining awaits at Morgan’s Pier. This seasonal dockside destination is open from the spring through the fall and features an open-air patio with a full-service restaurant and bar.

For fine dining, consider making a reservation at the Moshulu — the oldest and largest square-rigged sailing vessel still afloat in the world. The historic ship’s decks were converted into a restaurant, where guests can enjoy a seafood-centric menu of modern American cuisine. The Moshulu is also one of the many venues along the Delaware River that are available to rent for private events, celebrations, or parties. Or stop by Keating’s Rope & Anchor Bar + Kitchen, located in the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. This fine dining spot features an outdoor patio overlooking Penn’s Landing.

It is night time. The sky is dark. A large ship is shown on the water. There are bright blue lights hung outlining the ship. The river below reflects the bright lights. Another smaller ship is nearby, also docked along the waterfront.

Photo courtesy of the Moshulu.

Where to Stay

For those looking to stay along the Delaware River waterfront, consider booking a room at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing — Philadelphia’s only waterfront hotel. Other nearby accommodations include the Philadelphia Marriott Old City, Holiday Inn Express Penn’s Landing, or Penn’s View Hotel. Many of these hotels also serve as excellent venue options for meetings and events.

The sky is a bright blue with no clouds. A white, red, and yellow ship is shown docked along the waterfront to the left. A tall hotel building is shown behind it. There is a walkway to the right. Th river is a beautiful clear blue reflecting the blue sky above it. The bridge is off to the right in the distance.

The Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing stands tall above the historic cruiser USS Olympia. Photo courtesy of Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing.

Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront is just one of the many unique areas of the city to explore. Plan your trip to Philadelphia today.