This past weekend, the water-side walk along the Delaware River Waterfront went from just a picturesque activity to a thriving seasonal destination. Summerfest, Cherry Street Pier’s beer garden, Spruce Street Harbor Park and now the Independence Seaport Museum have opened up outdoor and some indoor activities, and this is the closest that things have been to “normal” down by Penn’s Landing in quite some time.
Earlier this month, the museum along with the National Historic Landmark Cruiser Olympia opened its doors to the public with extended hours giving visitors even more opportunities to explore Pennsylvania’s expansive waterways and Philadelphia’s maritime history.
To get out onto the water themselves, Philadelphians have a few different ways to brave the seas. Through the Museum’s kayak excursions, guests can choose from four specially curated excursions created to give unique perspectives of the Delaware River select weekends through Sept. 26. These specific excursions range anywhere from 3 to 10 miles, with beginner options available as well to check out the sites of the Three Sisters Shipwreck with a Kayaking Tutorial, Graffiti Pier, Petty’s Island, and Sunset Paddles. Each guided paddle adventure provides the perfect opportunity to learn or practice the essentials of responsible river kayaking and ranges from $60 to $75 per person.
Memorial Day weekend marked the start of another special occasion down on the Delaware River. Recently, Paddle’s Penn’s Landing reopened for the summer season and visitors can take their own boat out in the form of a swan, rowboat or even a dragon to check out the sites around the area for themselves. At about $10 for a half and hour slot (which is truly all you need, paddling is surprisingly a great workout) families can head out around the basin and past the barge of Spruce Street Harbor all the way down to the Cruiser Olympia. It’s a nice alternative if you’re not in the mood to get a full-on rowing session in through a kayak, but if you do want to check out a rowboat, there’s a special significance: Some of them were handmade through a program the ISM conducts themselves.
According to their website, the Sailor Stem Boatbuilding initiative connects under-served middle and high school students in the Philadelphia area to the water. This program targets young minds to encourage interest and understanding in engineering, mathematics, and the sciences in addition to team building, problem-solving, and leadership. Their next course (which spans 12 weeks and 24 weeks) launches in October.
Summer hours for Paddle Penn’s Landing are Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to dusk, and Saturday and Sunday noon to dusk through Labor Day (Sept. 6). Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance on ISM’s website.
The Waterfront Crew is implementing various safety protocols on the docks and the water to keep visitors and staff safe. According to the release, Kayak Excursions will be limited to 15 participants per session, and capacities in line and on the dock will be limited to ensure social distancing. Face masks are required on the docks and can be removed once you depart and remain six feet away from other vessels on the water. Boats, paddles, life jackets, and other equipment will be sanitized regularly, and hand sanitizer is available on the docks and highly encouraged for visitors to use before and after renting a vessel.
Heading indoors, visitors can also explore one of the largest maritime artifact collections in North America. River Alive! takes a look at wildlife, science, and the wonder of the Delaware River. Through this award-winning exhibit, Philadelphians will be able to check out various interactive components such as the Water Cycle Puzzle, Watershed Map, Continuum Wall, and more. Other exhibitions include Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River, Patriots & Pirates, and Light on Steel on Water as well.
The museum has also increased daily cleanings and adjusted certain elements of exhibits based on interactivity. Independence Seaport highly recommends visitors purchase tickets in advance on the official website, where they can also find admission prices and additional information. Admission tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
For more information on the Independence Seaport Museum, visit phillyseaport.org