Liberty Point is like Spruce Street Harbor Park’s most sophisticated best friend.
Standing between canopied tables and stone terraces, staring out at the blue water as you watch bartenders whip up cocktails and families stumble upon baskets of food, it’s hard to remember you’re in the middle of Philadelphia. .
It’s the new Liberty Point restaurant, with 1,400 seats, which boasts of being one of the largest in the city.
Wrapping around and above the Independence Seaport Museum, FCM Hospitality’s new outdoor dining venue reinforces the transformation of the long underappreciated and long underutilized Delaware Riverfront.
Philadelphia’s waterfront at Penn’s Landing now looks like a real summer destination.
The area is only in the early stages of a planned $2.2 billion overhaul, which will bring 3.3 million square feet of new development, including mixed-use towers, retail to the ground floor and a new public park spanning the I-95 corridor (but not a new Sixers arena).
Crowds are already coming to the small green space carved into the basin there, thanks to Spruce Street Harbor Park. Launched in 2014, it was one of the first successful activations by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the public-private entity that is also behind the Cherry Street Pier and a partner in Liberty Point.
And SSHP is back for an awesome 12th season – with hammocks, light shows, giant chess, boardwalk style food and the Oasis Barge Bar made it cool to get back to the river.
But now the chatter and excitement doesn’t stop at the edge of the park. Thanks to the draw of the new restaurant, the flow of pedestrians continues north and east, rounding out on the waterfront.
Dock catches your eye? You can rent the colorful dragon- and swan-shaped paddle boats lined up in the basin ($12 for half an hour) and head out onto the water to access cooling breezes and up-close views of historic ships moored to the south. . If you plan ahead, you can also sign up for a kayaking tour.
Or keep walking and hit the line of ice cream trucks, popsicles and dippin dots that line the edge of the river.
Turn again and you’ll see the restaurant’s entrance, a steep staircase that leads to a cacophony of blonde wood of interlocking patios and bars, all with great views.
Reservations are a good idea for groups, but you can usually find a spare stool or two.
With a menu of snacks and sandwiches that don’t exceed $20, plus draft beer and cocktails, you can eat and drink while watching the Ben Franklin Bridge, ships heading into port, the SS New Jersey, moored across the river at Camden.
All of this makes for a pretty impressive scene. If you have friends visiting for the weekend or just want to take a mini summer vacation without leaving home, the Philadelphia waterfront is now a very worthy option.
Scroll down for more photos of Paddle Penn’s Landing and Liberty Point.