August 28, 2014

6 Awesome Places to Ride Your Bike to During Labor Day Weekend in Philly

Holiday weekends are a great time to stick around Philadelphia. Sure, a lot of people migrate to the beach but that means smaller crowds and easier reservations here at home. Philly also has endless miles of trails and outdoor space to enjoy before another sub-zero winter settles in.

If you're around this Labor Day weekend, here's a fun idea: take yourself on a bike tour of the Delaware Waterfront. A lot of effort has been put into making Penn's Landing and other piers along the Delaware River the place to be this summer, and you're missing out if you don't take advantage. I made up my own Tour de Delaware Waterfront last weekend; it ended up a perfect way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Here's my suggested route:

1. Washington Ave Park. Hop on your bike and head to Washington Ave & Columbus Blvd. If you're already hungry, grab a cheesesteak at Shank's. Otherwise, just to the right of the Coast Guard building is an opening in the fence and paved path leading toward the river. Look for walk/bike signs on the road to guide you.

About 50 yards back is the brand new Washington Ave Pier. It's not huge but makes great use of existing, abandoned space with paths, benches, a little rock beach kids can play at, a fishing deck, and an observation tower/monument honoring this location as Philadelphia's original "Ellis Island." Best of all? It was SO QUIET. I couldn't believe how peaceful it was back there. Worth a visit.

Entrance to Washington Ave Pier
The end of the pier, great view and so quiet

2. Trail to WalMart. No kidding, the same secluded, paved path actually runs further south a short bit to the South Philly WalMart parking lot, so take a quick spin down there for extra mileage and to check out some views of the water I guarantee you've never seen before.

3. Boats Galore. Head back north to the land of giant boats at Lombard & Columbus Blvd., where you'll find everything from Becuna, a WWII submarine, to Oympia, the oldest steel warship afloat in the world and the sole surviving naval ship of the Spanish-American War (who knew?!), to the Moshulu restaurant/bar and Spirit of Philadelphia cruises. Some ships you can tour on your own, others are part of the Independence Seaport Museum.

*If you're worried about the busy roads, bike paths and sidewalks keep you off Columbus Blvd. all the way but once you get to a crowded area, be nice and walk your bike.

4. Spruce Street Harbor Park. Just ahead of you is the beloved Spruce Street Harbor Park, the coolest thing in Philadelphia this summer next to Mo'ne Davis and one of the world's best urban beaches. Its closing date just got pushed to September 28 but you must go enjoy the hammocks, boardwalk games, floating beer garden, colorful lights and more one last time. And don't forget to walk around the Hyatt hotel and out the farther docks, where more interesting ships, boats to rent and great views await.

Becura and Olympia offer a touch is maritime history
Harbor Park's floating paradise and restaurant

5. Race Street Pier. If you can pry yourself away from Harbor Park, keep going north past Penn's Landing Great Plaza (unless there is a cool event there to check out) to Race Street Pier. The hard surfaced promenade was opened 2011 to give people spectacular views of the Ben Franklin Bridge and a way to get closer to the water. It's an all around happy place for reading, relaxing or spending time with friends.

6. Morgan's Pier. Hungry yet? At a minimum you deserve a refreshing beverage for all your hard work. Just on the north side of the Ben Franklin Bridge is Philly's trendiest outdoor bar/restaurant, Morgan's Pier, where you can relax over a cocktail or beer, grab a bite and see what's doin' at the marina. It's a welcoming place for families during the day but turns into a younger club-going crowd at night.

Race Street Pier, what a view!
Pineapple margarita at Morgan's Pier

Get through it all? Nice work, you'll sleep well tonight. Happy Labor Day!

No comments: