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There are lots of ways to go boating near Philadelphia.
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

How to enjoy summer on a boat in Philadelphia

Looking to take some water excursions this summer? We lay out fun options for kayaking, tubing, canoeing and more.

By Jared Brey

Philly in the summertime means drinks on stoops and on rooftop bars, fireworks on the parkway, block parties, festivals in Philadelphia, midnight pretzels, baseball games in the open air, and bricks and concrete baking away in the sun. Also, everywhere, a vapor cloud of hot garbage. Sometimes you can lean in and embrace it all. Other times, you’ve got to hang it up and escape to where the air is fresh. That could mean going hiking near Philadelphia or taking one of a slew of fun day trips from the city—but why not up the adventure factor and get yourself on a boat? But how? Glad you asked—we’ve got some fun ideas for tubing, kayaking, canoeing and more below.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Philadelphia

Fun boating activities in Philadelphia

Sail Philadelphia brings nine tall ships from along the eastern U.S., Bermuda, and Portugal to dock at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia
Photograph: Courtesy Sail Philadelphia

1. Sail Philadelphia

Things to do Festivals

During the last weekend in May, nine tall ships from the eastern U.S., Bermuda and Portugal dock at Penn’s Landing. The four-day event includes a waterfront festival, tours of the boats and admission to the Independence Seaport Museum. You can also take 90-minute or two-hour cruises; while the tickets aren’t cheap, these ships are the real deal. If all you want is a good look, the view from Ben Franklin Bridge is $0.

Hidden River Outfitters is the place to go when you want to kayak in Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River.
Photograph: Courtesy Hidden River Outfitters

2. Kayak on the Schuylkill River

Sports and fitness Kayaking & canoeing

Hidden River Outfitters rents kayaks and paddleboards for three-hour sojourns on the Schuylkill River that afford spectacular views of Philly landmarks from the water, including Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many of the historic bridges that cross the Schuylkill from Manayunk to Center City. Each tour begins on land with basic paddleboard instruction, so you can get your ducks in a row before embarking on a watery journey.

You can rent this boat on the Delaware River in Philadelphia on AirBnB.
Photograph: Courtesy Airbnb

3. Stay in a floating AirBnB

Sometimes you don’t even need to sail away. If you just want to spend a night on the water, there are a handful of boats docked on the Delaware River that can accommodate you. Check out renter Jonathan’s heated, two-bedroom yacht, for example, for around $169 a night. The swanky boat—decked out with leather couches, a neon bar and two bathrooms—can sleep up to four guests and grants you stunning fish-eye views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Philadelphia Canoe Club offers full-day tutorials on how to canoe that culminate with a canoe ride through the gorgeous Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
Photograph: Courtesy Pixabay

4. Learn to canoe in the Pine Barrens

Have you ever been in a canoe with another person, only to realize that you’re the weak link, neither strong enough to generate speed nor smart enough to steer? Hone your skills with a lesson from Philadelphia Canoe Club. The full-day tutorials begin with on-land instruction in Manayunk and culminate with a canoe ride through the gorgeous Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

Go floating on a tube in the Great Egg Harbor River in Mays Landing, New Jersey, with Palace Outfitters.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Virginia State Parks

5. Go tubing down a New Jersey creek

Sure, floating on a tube in the Great Egg Harbor River in Mays Landing, New Jersey, barely counts as boating. But who cares? Palace Outfitters’ tubing excursions provide an extra tube to carry a case of beer as you float along the tree-lined waterway. Added bonus? You can literally pee the entire time and no one will ever know.

Prefer greener expanses?


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