Philly’s Fabulous Waterfronts

Water. It’s such an essential part of life we often take it for granted and forget its preciousness. It is life-giving, cleansing and aesthetically pleasing. Many cities have waterfronts so painfully neglected it makes me cringe, so I was happy to see Philadelphia embracing its liquid commodity.

Here’s a sad admission of me being a geographically-challenged American: I knew Philly was on the water, but I didn’t realize it has two major rivers, the Delaware and the Schuylkill. I was pleased to find that the city pays attention to both of its waterfronts, and is in the process of making them even better.

I learned that the Schuylkill hasn’t always been so appealing. Industry pollution such as oil and coal dust has caused it to catch fire a couple times. Yes, the river caught on fire. But it underwent a major clean-up effort in the mid-1900s and now although there is still some industry, the river also is lined by gorgeous running trails, gazebos and historic placards.
Schuylkill River in Philadelphia

Schuykill River trail in Philadelphia

There are plenty of parks with playground equipment for kids, but what about adults? We need entertainment, too! Enter Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River. The pop-up park was constructed along a boardwalk at the Delaware River near Penn’s Landing. For history buffs, the Philadelphia Seaport is home to old ships and a maritime museum.
Ships in Philadelphia Seaport

Ship at Philadelphia Seaport

There’s kayaking and paddleboating in the river.
Philadelphia waterfront

Food trucks line the park and there’s also a beer garden for some adult beverage fun in the sun (or under the stars). Perhaps my favorite part, though, is the hammock garden. Oh, how I love a good rest in a hammock! The only problem was this park was so packed that all the hammocks were taken. I vote they triple the number available. Hammocks for all!
Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia

Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia

OK, OK, it’s not just for adults, there are tons of kids who enjoy the outdoor oasis as well… just not the beer garden, hopefully. The pop-up “urban beach” has been so popular that its stay has been extended through the end of September. How about extending through the end of forever?? This park is such a fantastic idea and clearly is filling a need, it should just be made permanent.

City planners, take note: when it comes to wonderful waterfront attractions, Philadelphia is proof that if you build it, the people will come!

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