Philadelphia is positioned between two waterways – the Delaware River to the east and Schuylkill River to the west – presenting many spacious and picturesque riverside settings to consider for offsite events, receptions, and other gatherings.
NOTE: Philadelphia continues to reopen with updated guidelines for gatherings. For the latest information on capacity limits and other restrictions, consult the PHLCVB’s COVID-19 Travel Resources.
Docked along the Delaware River waterfront, Moshulu offers amazing views of the river, Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and Philadelphia skyline. Enjoy award-winning cuisine while mingling and networking on the deck of the world’s oldest and tallest square rigged sailing vessel still afloat. To learn more, click here.
Hilton Philadelphia Penn’s Landing
Philadelphia’s only waterfront hotel, the Hilton Philadelphia Penn’s Landing, is located in between two popular riverfront attractions – Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Independence Seaport Museum. The 350-room hotel features 24,000 square feet of event space, including ballrooms with large windows that offer beautiful views of the Delaware River. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Keating’s Rope & Anchor, features an exterior patio space that can be rented for private events. For more hotels with outdoor event spaces, click here.
Independence Seaport Museum
Philadelphia’s maritime museum, the Independence Seaport Museum, is found just steps away from the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing and offers its own collection of interesting venue options. At the museum you’ll find two floors of spacious galleries, a theater with over 400 seats, as well as a Riverview Lookout and a large ballroom on the fourth floor, both offering incredible views of the Delaware River. One of the museum’s most unique (and most historic) options is the Cruiser Olympia — the oldest steel warship still afloat — which is docked nearby and is available to rent for private events. To learn more, click here.
Cherry Street Pier
Once a municipal pier, Cherry Street Pier has recently been revitalized into a mixed-use public space, often home to pop-up markets and art exhibitions alongside its collection of artist studios. The pier features a 2,000-square-foot covered Garage and a 640-square-foot Terrace, which presents stunning views of the Delaware River and nearby Benjamin Franklin Bridge in an industrial, open-air setting. To learn more about Cherry Street Pier, click here.
Revel or network as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge soars overhead at Morgan’s Pier, offering three distinct dockside event spaces. Plentiful patio seating awaits in The Garden, the pier’s open-air main area, perfect for larger networking events or receptions. The more intimate Crow’s Nest fittingly sits above the pier, accessed via a private spiral staircase. A large private bar can be found in the covered Craft Bar, including a private bar space and traditional high-top seating. All three spaces can be rented with a full venue buyout. For more information and photos of each of the event spaces, click here.
City Cruises Anchored by Hornblower
You can quite literally host your event on the Delaware River by renting one of two private yachts operated by City Cruises Anchored by Hornblower. The larger of the two vessels, the Spirit of Philadelphia, offers three levels of event space with observation decks, including a middle tier Walt Whitman deck complete with a dancefloor and bar. The more intimate Freedom Elite has two levels, including a lounge deck with a bar and partially open-air observation space. For more information on City Cruises Anchored by Hornblower, click here.
Located beside the dock from which the Spirit of Philadelphia and Freedom Elite set sail, the Chart House is another fantastic option for riverside events. The restaurant allows their entire facility to be rented for large events, though smaller functions can reserve one of the individual rooms. The largest space is the beautiful Waterfall room, which features a tableside waterfall and beautiful views of the Philadelphia skyline and Delaware River. The Chart House’s menu of fresh seafood and perfectly prepared steaks extends to its on-site catering options. To learn more, click here.
Battleship New Jersey
You’ll find the U.S. Navy’s most decorated battleship, the Battleship New Jersey, docked along the New Jersey shore of the Delaware River – just a short ride away from Philadelphia’s downtown over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The historic battleship is one of the largest ever built and can accommodate events in a variety of sizes and formats in one (or all) of its 11 event spaces. Both the Main Deck Portside and Forecastle present stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline on the other side of the river, with the latter featuring 16-inch gun turrets and the ship’s superstructure as the backdrop. For more information, click here.
Just a short walk away from the Battleship New Jersey and across the river from Center City, sit beside the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast at Adventure Aquarium. The spacious Currents ballroom not only offers views of its 550,000-gallon Shark Realm, but also of the Philadelphia skyline. For smaller gatherings, consider the Ocean Realm Gallery, which presents similarly striking skyline views as colorful fish, sea turtles, shark rays, and other sea creatures swim beside you in the 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit. To learn more about events at Adventure Aquarium, click here.
Fairmount Water Works
Constructed between 1812 and 1872, the Fairmount Water Works along the Schuylkill River was the first water supply in the nation to use paddle wheels to pump water. Now, the National Historic Landmark serves as a stunning event venue that offers breathtaking views of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boathouse Row. The venue features two elegant outdoor spaces — the Grand Pavilion and Mill House — in addition to the indoor Engine House. To learn more, click here.
Found along the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia, not far from University City and the University of Pennsylvania campus, Bartram’s Garden is the nation’s oldest surviving botanical garden. The National Historic Landmark serves as a unique outdoor setting for events, able to accommodate up to 350 guests, with a new pavilion space with modern amenities overlooking the river. For more information, click here.
For a list of other outdoor event spaces in Philadelphia, including several in lush Fairmount Park, click here.
Cover photo courtesy of Moshulu.