Summertime is meant to be spent at the waterfront

Matt Stanley

It’s hard to imagine spending the summertime season outside without the cool breeze and picturesque views of the Delaware River Waterfront, and now, Philadelphians have plenty of reasons to head down to Penn’s Landing and beyond.

Recently, the Delaware River Waterfront announced the return of a full Summer on the Waterfront season featuring several popular amenities that have been absent since summer 2019. The festivities have already started with the opening of the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest last Friday and some appropriately-sized performances, events and exhibits at the year-round Cherry Street Pier. Philadelphians can also stay tuned for more information regarding Spruce Street Harbor Park as well. All together, visitors who head down towards the water will be able to enjoy socially distanced beer gardens and safe take-away food options while enjoying the activities and events that will occur over the summertime season.

Maria Young

“It is so important for Philadelphians and visitors to be able to gather safely outside and enjoy precious moments together with friends, family, and loved ones. It continues to be our mission to make the Delaware River Waterfront the absolute best place to do just that,” said DRWC President Joe Forkin in a statement.

For Summerfest, activities and offerings will mirror years passed with the return of boardwalk-style rides, games, concessions and their staple: The 12,000 square foot roller skating rink with sweeping views of the water and the Ben Franklin Bridge. That means Philadelphians can take advantage of the Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Gravity Storm Moon Bounce, Artful Golfer Mini Golf, the arcade and boardwalk games (balloon buster, basketball toss, ball-in-a-basket, high-striker, etc.) during open hours.

Food-wise, there will be plenty to munch on and refreshing sips to slurp on from Chickie’s and Pete’s and Skelly’s Concessions while enjoying everything Summerfest has to offer. Chickie’s & Pete’s will be operating the Crabshack and the Lodge bar so you can order wings, Crabfries, and beer all in one place, while Skelly’s Amusements will offer some seasonal classics such as funnel cake, ice cream, lemonade and cotton candy.

Cherry Street Pier is also returning for its third full summer season with 12 resident artists, the popular French Toast Bites by Lokal Artisan Foods, Rita’s Italian Ice, and The Garden at Cherry Street Pier by FCM Hospitality.

Maria Young

“FCM Hospitality is excited to bring The Garden back to Cherry Street Pier for an entire full season in 2021,” said FCM Hospitality Owner Avram Hornik in a statement at the time of opening. “Following our recent openings for Morgan’s Pier, Lola’s Garden and Parks on Tap Cherry Blossom Edition, we are back for a full spring, summer and fall on the Delaware River with an outdoor dining oasis that is your new go-to location for an impromptu staycation, family afternoon or evening date night. We have created an entire pop-up experience on the waterfront that allows patrons to practice physical distancing while soaking up the vibes, views, sips and bites that made this one of Philadelphia’s top new outdoor dining destinations last summer.”

The Garden has the vibe of a beer garden, but the background of the river and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to add to the open-air styled space. This new seasonal space features socially distanced seating for 250 guests with two, four and six guests at a time with cafe tables and picnic benches. Seating inside The Garden offers a number of picturesque options, including seating facing the gardens and trees, seating with views of the Bridge, and more private tucked away seating with perfect views adjacent to the water and the boats docked just a few feet away in the river. Coming from the kitchen, guests can expect snacks and light bites in the form of sandwiches, salads, dips, snacks.

The opening menu will consist of warm Lost Bread Co. pretzels and spicy mustard, jalapeno dip with corn tortilla chips, burrata with broccoli rabe, Calabrian chili and a pretzel crostini, a chopped salad, grain salad, chilled soba noodle salad, smoked turkey wrap, blackened cauliflower wrap, Cherry Street hoagie, kid’s hot dog, and more. Then on the spirited side of the menu, notable selections include beer created at FCM Hospitality’s Craft Hall by Mainstay Independent Brewing (Poplar Pils, Constitution Lager, Meander Pale Ale, Bowline IPA, King Laird Weiss and the Park Pale Ale just to name a few), plus new drafts from the recently opened Two Locals Brewing.

Cherry Street Pier is also home to a new exhibit through Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet. ‘Spread Your Wings’ was unveiled last week at Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront, and the opening of the exhibition was coupled with a live performance last Friday by the Pennsylvania Ballet II from choreographer Maria Konrad. This particular exhibition, which is open until June 6, uses a variety of mediums to help tell its story including visual arts, photography, choreography, and creative writing opportunities. What is the story? It’s more a mission-based one with the hopes of helping Philadelphians to engage with art-making and movement and to become agents of their own creative experience. On display will be large scale photography of dancers by Vikki Sloviter, Arian Molina, and Shawn Theodore as well as a video directed by Michael Candelori.

Maria Young

Cherry Street Pier will also be home to a number of exciting performances and events, with a full list available on their website.

The Delaware River Waterfront decided to reopen a slew of activities and happenings that were null during the pandemic last year in 2020. With that comes the promise of safety as well. Per the City of Philadelphia, all visitors to the Waterfront are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing, maintaining at least 6 feet of space between other people.

For more information on all of the events happening down by the waterfront this year, visit

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