spruce street harbor park

Spruce Street Harbor Park is Philadelphia’s urban oasis located on the Delaware River waterfront.  Open from May 22 through September 27th, SSHP is certainly a welcomed addition to, what many consider, the underutilized Philadelphia waterfront. The New York Times article that ranked Philadelphia #3 on their list of 52 places to visit in 2015 made mention of Spruce Street Harbor Park.  SSHP also made The Huffington Post’s list of the world’s (that’s right, WORLD’S!) best urban beaches.  Those are two great mentions that help authenticate the impact the park has had on the city.

Now in its second year, Spruce Street Harbor Park is bigger and better than year one.  Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, entry to the park, along with many of its amenities, is free and open to the public.  Food, drink, and other amenities (like the arcade) are pay as you go.  Below are some of the features that SSHP offers:

FOOD:

  • Port FedNuts – brought to you by Federal Donuts.  Enjoy a fried chicken sandwich, iced coffee, and/or a bag o’ donuts.
  • Grab an ice cream sundae from S.S. Franklin Fountain…brought to you by Old City’s classic ice cream parlor, The Franklin Fountain.
  • Indulge in pork belly bao buns, garlic-ginger wings, and glazed pork ribs at Chef Jose Garces’ Chifa.
  • Chef Garces is also offering a taco truck from Distrito, his University City restaurant offering Mexican street food.
  • Froman’s On The Boardwalk is offering traditional boardwalk fare.
  • Craft beers and specialty cocktails can also be enjoyed at the park.

THINGS TO DO:

  • Catch an afternoon nap in one of the many hammocks.
  • Play games – bocce ball, shuffleboard, ping pong, giant chess, connect four, and Jenga are all offered.
  • Battle your friends in arcade games.
  • Sail a remote controlled sailboat.
  • Rent a canoe, kayak, or swan boat.
  • Take a ferry ride.
  • Cool off in one of the fountains.
  • Take a stroll down the boardwalk
  • Relax, enjoy the weather, and take in the scenery.

SIGHTS:

  • Nightly LED light shows.
  • Live music.
  • Floating gardens covered in native plants.
  • Barges with custom seating and nets suspended over the river.

I hesitantly admit that I never made it to Spruce Street Harbor in its first season…I know pretty terrible, right?!?  I’m a lover of the Jersey shore, and in summers past, any free time I’ve had (which hasn’t been much) has been spent at the beach.  However, with more outdoor options popping up in the city (SSHP, North Shore Beach Club, Morgan’s Pier, Independence Beer Garden, etc.), Philadelphia is becoming a better summer destination.

Growing up I spent my summers in Ocean City, NJ, and for that reason I’ll always be a “Shore” person as there’s too much nostalgia for me not to be.  However, with every outdoor addition to the city, I’m less disappointed when I can’t make it to the beach.

Lastly, there have always been question marks tied to the Philadelphia waterfront.  Between Columbus Blvd., seasonal usage, and the amount of work needed to improve the area, many thought the river’s edge would remain useless from a social perspective.  But, with the recent additions of Spruce Street Harbor Park, Morgan’s Pier, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, and La Peg, the Field of Dreams quote, “If you build it, he will come” is proving true.

To learn more about Spruce Street Harbor Park, click here.