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Delaware River Waterfront Reopens for the Season

Summerfest at the RiverRink and more are open for all the warm weather fun!

Rejoice, Philly, it’s time to return to sunshine, warm weather, and that Delaware River waterfront life. After a shortened season turning the roller rink into a socially-distanced “beach” last year, the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest will open for 2021 on May 7 in all its former glory. Spruce Street Harbor Park will be reopening on May 26, and Cherry Street Pier remains open with even more food, art, and events all spring and summer.


With three beer gardens, two arcades, rides, games, and of course the roller rink, Penn’s Landing is set to be a little slice of boardwalk heaven. And of course there’s the giant red Visit Philly chair, so don’t forget to snap some photos! Read on to learn all about this spring and summer on the Delaware. As with everything, practice social distancing, stay home if you’re sick, and wear a mask (they’re required) at all times when enjoying the waterfront destinations.



The signature 12,000 square foot roller skating rink has amazing views of the river and Ben Franklin Bridge. Skating sessions are 90 minutes, and masks will be required at all times. Adults can rent traditional roller skates as well as inline skates, and the RiverRink even has toddler skates that go over the shoes and tighten to fit (and are much easier to balance on).


Skating admission is $5 (free for Independence Blue Cross Cardholders). Skate rental is $10. Tickets are available online. Lockers are available for rent for $1.


Due to capacity restrictions, roller skating tickets this season are based on limited and staggered timed entry only. Anybody without a timed roller skating ticket will not be able to enter into the skating zone and rubber matted areas, due to stringent capacity restrictions. This includes any accompanying guardian, who will have to purchase a roller skating ticket in order to enter this zone.


In addition to skating, there are so many fun activities for kids and adults of all ages. After you take off your skates, stick around Summerfest for more games, like Artful Golfer mini golf (9 holes; $5 per person), a few different carnival games where you can win stuffed animals, and lots of arcade games throughout the indoor areas.




When Spruce Street Harbor reopens, you’ll find yet another arcade! This one is made of a shipping container to match the other stands at the SSHP boardwalk, and contains Skee-Ball, air hockey, claw crane games, Ms. Pac-Man, and two racing games. There are also some coin-op ride-ons outside the arcade.


A couple years ago, Summerfest got a major upgrade with the addition of the Midway, adding carnival rides to its already festive vibe. Happily, the Midway has returned this year with the Ferris wheel, carousel, and Gravity Storm Moon Bounce. The Ferris wheel is 60 feet high, lights up, and offers an unparalleled aerial view of Summerfest and the waterfront. Rides are pay-as-you-go, and tickets are available on site.




Beginning May 28, you can paddle your way around the Penn’s Landing basin in a kayak, rowboat, pirate ship, swan or dragon! There is but one dragon boat—may the odds be ever in your favor—but you may get lucky with a flamingo or yellow duck (both four-seaters)! You can buy tickets at the booth next to the dock adjacent to the Independence Seaport Museum. Tickets are $10 per person for a 30-minute rental (or $8 if you’re a member of the Seaport Museum).


No prior experience or licenses are required to rent a boat, but since everyone must wear a life jacket, renters must weigh more than 35 pounds to ride. The minimum age for tandem kayaks is 9; children must be at least 11 years old to take out a single kayak. All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.


Paddle Penn’s Landing will be open every day, through Labor Day. The last boat leaves the dock at sunset each night.


Where to even begin? There are so many Philly favorites in one spot, as well as summertime fun foods like funnel cake, lemonade, and more to give you all the boardwalk carnival feels.


As with this past winter, Chickie’s & Pete’s will be operating the Crabshack and the Lodge bar so you can order your wings, Crabfries, and a beer all in one place. A hostess will meet, greet, and seat guests. All tables are spaced six feet apart to ensure physical distancing. Seating is limited to groups of six. All food and beverage must be enjoyed while seated. Outside, Skelly’s is selling funnel cake, ice cream, lemonade, cotton candy, and more seasonal favorites.


Once Spruce Street Harbor Park’s boardwalk opens, you can find the S.S. Franklin, a stand made of an old shipping container that serves ice cream as well as waffles, milkshakes, and floats. Plus, more Chickie’s & Pete’s Crabfries, French Toast Bites, and more. SSHP will also once again host its outdoor floating beer garden!


If you find yourself north at French Toast Bites, Rita’s Italian Ice, and The Garden at Cherry Street Pier by FCM Hospitality– all served out of repurposed trolley cars! The Garden also has cockails, beer, and wine for prime outdoor drinking with kids in tow.



Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest opens for the season on May 7 through September 26, and will be open every day including holidays. Spruce Street Harbor Park will open May 26, and Cherry Street Pier is open year-round.  Admission is free for all locations along the waterfront, but attractions like rides, skating, games, and food are pay-as-you-go.


Parking is available on the streets, as well as in lots located at Market Street, Walnut Street, and Lombard Circle at Columbus Boulevard. The waterfront attractions are all accessible via SEPTA bus lines and the Market-Frankford line with minimal walking. You can also take the Phlash bus, which stops directly at Penn’s Landing. If you prefer biking, there are multiple Indego stations as well as bike parking on site.


Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer