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Cool Down With These Water Activities in Philadelphia

Boating, fishing, stand up paddle boarding, and swimming in the city

Between the Schuylkill River, Delaware River, and over 60 public pools, there are tons of places to have fun on and in the water in Philadelphia! The rivers are great for boating, fishing, and stand up paddle boarding, and the pools offer safe swimming options across the city. Many of these recreational water activities are available through the beginning of fall so your family still has plenty of time to paddle downstream, pick up a fishing rod, or go for a dip!


Looking for water activities outside of the city? This piece has everything you need to know about cooling down in Bucks County. On Main Line Parent, you can read about campgrounds that have lakes and the best pools and splash pads in the suburbs. Happy splashing!


Bartram’s Garden Free Boating

5400 Lindbergh Boulevard


Southwest Philadelphia’s Bartram’s Garden offers free boating on the Schuylkill River on Saturdays from 10am-2pm through the middle of October. They are open to all ages and skill levels and provide all necessary equipment.

FDR Park

1500 Pattison Avenue & S Broad Street


There are multiple ways to enjoy the lakes at this beautiful and expansive South Philly park. There are sunset kayak tours and intro to rowing classes. Earlier in the year, they offered community boating days on selected Saturdays, so keep an eye out for those next summer.

Paddle Penn’s Landing at the Independence Seaport Museum

211 S. Columbus Boulevard


Penn’s Landing has a fleet of paddle boats available for family fun!

Schuylkill Riverboat Tours

Walnut Street Dock


Discover the secrets of the Schuylkill River on a fun and educational riverboat tour while seeing amazing views of Philadelphia. Learn about the past, present, and future of the tidal Schuylkill River and its impact on the city.

Hidden River Outfitters Kayak Tours

Walnut Street Dock


Hidden River Outfitters hosts kayak tours geared towards ages 12 and up along the Schuylkill River. The tour gives a unique view of iconic Philly spots including the Fairmount Dam, the Philadelphia Art Museum, Fairmount Water Works, and the city skyline.

Philadelphia Canoe Club


The Philadelphia Canoe Club offers classes and trips to get people involved in canoeing, kayaking, and standup paddle boarding.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Aqua Vida

Various locations


Aqua Vida is a local clean water lifestyle company that offers floating stand up paddle boarding fitness and yoga classes on the Penn’s Landing Waterfront and at an indoor pool in a University City club. While their classes are geared towards adults, they also have a kids clinic that not only teaches kids how to paddle board, but also about the fundamentals of water ecology and caring for the environment.


Photo courtesy of Bartram’s Garden


Bartram’s Garden Free Fishing

5400 Lindbergh Boulevard


Bartram’s Garden also offers free catch-and-release fishing on the Schuylkill River through August. It’s great for beginners, and they provide all the equipment.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

8601 Lindbergh Boulevard


John Heinz offers free fishing rods to borrow at the visitor’s center. They also host a number of family free fishing events throughout the year that do not require a fishing license.

Learn to Fish with Tacony/Takoony-Frankford

Various locations in Northeast Philadelphia area


All ages are invited to learn to fish for free at multiple locations in the Northeast Philly area through the rest of August. Rods, tackle, bait, and basic instruction will be provided by the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoors Partners.


Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation


Public Pools

Various locations


The city has opened over 60 public pools this summer. Since the Philadelphia Water Department does not recommend swimming in natural waterways due to potential bacteria and safety issues, the pools are a great safe alternative option for an easy cool down.


Various locations


The city also over 90 water-based play spaces including spraygrounds, splash pads, and spray parks open until Labor Day weekend. Some Parks & Rec sites are home to a single sprinkler, spray jet, or mister. Other sites have bigger water play areas. Find your local sprayground here!



Know about other spots in Philadelphia where you can enjoy the water? Let us know in a comment below! 


Lead photo courtesy of Bartram’s Garden

Calendar Editor and Writer for Philadelphia Family. Send tips to eleanor@familyfocus.org.