Penn's Landing - The Riverfront Entertainment District of Philadelphia

Penn's Landing

View of Penn's Landing welcome arch and city skyline, from the Delaware River - you can also see the Customs House (on the left) and Liberty Place (on the right)

Penn's Landing

Enthusiastic crowd assembled, for an imminent fireworks display - with a dazzling Ben Franklin Bridge in the background

Center City District Location - RED - Historic District - Penn's Landing

View Penn's Landing in a larger map

The riverfront entertainment district features many worthwhile places to visit, on both sides of the Delaware River, with frequent ferry crossings to the New Jersey side. You can easily spend an entire day and evening there.

Getting to Penn's Landing

The Phlash

The purple Phlash Trolley offers outstanding service to Penn's Landing, and is easily the best bet for you, if you are already in Center City. However, there are two huge exceptions to this rule:

1) The Phlash only runs from May 1 through Halloween.

2) The Phlash doesn't operate at night - it shuts down around 6 PM or so - which means that it's not of any value if you want to see the July 3, 2010 fireworks extravaganza.


Fortunately, SEPTA offers several options for reaching Penn's Landing.

If you are already in town, or are coming from a nearby neighborhood, the Blue Line / Market-Frankford Line/ "el" - which are all just different names for the same SEPTA line - offers easy and convenient service to Penn's Landing. The 2nd Street stop of the Blue Line, will drop you off at 2nd and Market Streets - and it's a short walk from there.

From there, just cross through the archway that reads "Penn's Landing" - the Market Street bridge, and the Great Plaza will be on your right.

You can take the Orange Line / Broad Street Subway provides an easy, free connection to the Blue Line. Just take any Orange Line subway train to Philadelphia City Hall station.

Once you get off the subway, just follow the signs for the Market-Frankford Line, which will bring you to the Blue Line's 15th Street Station. From there, make sure you follow signs for the platform that reads "Eastbound to Frankford". You then get on at 15th Street, ride past the stations for 13th, 11th, 8th, and 5th- until you reach 2nd Street Station.

SEPTA Regional Rail Train Service

If you are coming from one of the outlying city neighborhoods, or from the suburbs, your top choice should be SEPTA Regional Rail service. Nearly every train will stop at Market East Station - which is located at 11th and Market Streets. Of the three major Center City train stations, Market East is far and away the closest to Penn's Landing, and the one that you should get off at.

Once you've disembarked your train at Market East, you can get on the Blue Line at 11th Street, without going outside - although you will have to purchase tokens to continue your journey.

After you come up from the Market East train platform, buy a two-pack of tokens at the SEPTA ticket window, for each person in your party. Then follow the blue and white signs that read "Market-Frankford Line", until you reach the Blue Line 11th Street Station.

Make sure you follow the "Eastbound to Frankford" platform, and follow the directions, above.

Getting from 30th Street Station to Penn's Landing

If you are arriving in Philadelphia via Amtrak, you will be disembarking at 30th Street Station - located at 30th and Market Streets, over 28 blocks from Penn's Landing. So here's what you should do from there:

Your Amtrak ticket is good for that same day, on SEPTA Regional Rail, to either Suburban Station - which is located at the intersection of 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard - or Market East. So here's the best approach for you-

Within 30th Street Station, follow signs for the SEPTA train platforms. When you arrive, ask a SEPTA employee at the ticket window, to direct you to an eastbound platform, with a soon-to-arrive train, going to Market East. (While you're there, you can also purchase tokens at the SEPTA ticket window, which you can use on the Blue Line, Orange Line, or buses.)

And just before you get on the train, make sure you ask the conductor, "does this train go to Market East?" If so, hop on.

It's just a 10 minute ride, as you'll pass Suburban Station first, and then arrive at Market East. (The way you can be sure it's Market East, is the multicolored mosaic in the tunnel, which is very distinctive.) And once you're at Market East, follow the directions, above.

In addition to the Blue Line option, you can also - once you've ascended to street level from Market East - take one of many SEPTA eastbound buses on Market Street, to get to Penn's Landing. Just ask the driver, "does this bus go to Penn's Landing, and/or 2nd and Market?" If the answer is yes, hop on. The tokens are the same as for the Blue Line.

Added, Sunday, August 29, 2010...

Looking for Somewhere to Stay? Take A Look at Our Guide to Penn's Landing Hotels

If you're looking for a hotel, there are three directly on Penn's Landing. We've created a Guide to Penn's Landing Hotels - it's worth checking out, for more information.

Added, Thursday, August 12, 2010...

The RiverLink Ferry, Connecting Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, to the Camden, New Jersey, Waterfront, Across the Delaware River

Another enjoyable thing to do at Penn's Landing, during the warm-weather months, is to take the RiverLink Ferry over and back to the Camden, New Jersey, Riverfront.

The Ferry operates only during peak tourist season, unfortunately. It runs every day between Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September, but outside of that window, it doesn't run often. It also operates during all Saturdays and Sundays in May and September, but that's it for the year.

However, it is a highly pleasurable, short jaunt over the Delaware River. Your ride will last about 12 minutes or so. (This is the same river that George Washington crossed, while leading the Continental Army to a surprise victory at Trenton, NJ, in December 1776, although that was a few miles north of Penn's Landing.)

Outside of those hours, at night, there are also express trips, which are made at night, to accommodate events at the outdoor concert venue - currently styled the Susquehanna Bank Center, which keeps changing its corporate sponsored name, across the river.

The RiverLink Ferry described the service this way:

"Express Service: The RiverLink Ferry offers express service during Susquehanna Bank Center events. Express service is available 30 minutes after events end."

We've experienced several concerts at the concert venue, under its various appellations, and would highly recommend it - you can enjoy the band, while looking at the Philadelphia skyline, and sunset, since you'll be looking west.

And we'd also strongly recommend the RiverLink Ferry, to get back and forth. You don't want to drive over to Camden and try to park. Trust us.

Also, it's worth your while to take the ferry over to Camden, even if you have no intention of visiting the various attractions on that side - the Aquarium, the World War II battleship, USS New Jersey, or minor league baseball at Campbell's Field, featuring the Camden Riversharks. It's fun just to ride over, walk around the Camden Waterfront, and then if you don't want to try any of these attractions on that side, just to wait for the next ferry back to the Penn's Landing side.

RiverLink Ferry Hours and Admission - 2010 Season


Operating hours are 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM. There is a departure from Philadelphia to Camden, every hour, on the hour, beginning at 10:00 AM. There are departures from Camden, every hour, on the half hour, beginning at 9:30 AM.

It should be noted, also that on weeknights (Monday - Thursday) that the last ferry trips of the day, will be 5:30 PM from Camden and 6:00 PM from Philadelphia.

On weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday): The last ferry trips of the day will be 6:30 PM from Camden and 7:00 PM from Philadelphia.

You can buy tickets at either terminal, on their respective sides of the river - and also at Independence Visitor Center, at 6th and Market Streets - the same place you pick up your free tickets for tours of Independence Hall.

Ferry Fares

$7.00 - Adults

$6.00 - Seniors (65 & up)

$6.00 - Children (3 to 12)

Free - Children Under 3

$5.50 Groups of 15 or More, When Booked 10 Days in Advance

You can get more information at the official RiverLink Ferry web site - where you can obtain the latest, up-to-date information.

Why Is The Waterfront District Called Penn's Landing?

The name of the entertainment district derives from William Penn - the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia. It commemorates Penn's landing at the Delaware River in 1682, in a sailing ship named Welcome, to take possession of the colony granted to him by King Charles II of Great Britain.

Charles II owed a substantial financial debt to Penn's father, Sir Admiral William Penn. Lacking cash, Charles II opted to repay the Admiral's son, with a considerable amount of territory along the Atlantic seaboard.

Despite being the son of an Admiral, the younger William Penn was a pacifist Quaker, and intended to found a colony as a haven not only for the Quaker sect, but with liberty of conscience for all. In keeping with the Quaker tenet of modesty, he did not wish to have the colony named after himself.

Instead, Penn preferred that it be called merely Sylvania, from the Latin word silva, for "tree" - the new name would thus mean "forest" or "woodland". But Charles II insisted that the colony be named Pennsylvania, assuring Penn that it was really named to honor Admiral Penn, his father.

By doing so, the King persuaded the younger Penn, to indirectly accept the offer to be memorialized. And so, that's how "Sylvania" became "Pennsylvania"- "Penn's Woods".

According to the pamphlet, Your Friend, William Penn, published by The Welcome Society of Pennsylvania, here is how the remarkable naming process took place. It features an attempt by Penn to bribe the King's undersecretary to avoid having it named after himself.

"When in 1681 Penn was granted the land in America for the Province of Pennsylvania, it was in payment of the debt of 16,000 [British pounds sterling] King Charles II had owed to Admiral Sir William Penn, [his] late father...

William Penn, Proprietary and Governor of the new province thus founded, wished to have it called New Wales, 'being as this a pretty hilly country,' and when that was refused, Penn then wanted the province to be called Sylvania, because of its woodlands. But the King chose Pennsylvania, [according to Penn] 'a name the King would give it in honor of my father, nor would twenty guineas move the under secretary to vary the name; for I feared lest it should be looked on as a vanity in me, and not as a respect in the King, as it truly was, to my father, whom he often mentions with praise.'

It is likely that the Merry Monarch had his tongue in his cheek, realizing that most people would always think of Pennsylvania as named for the modest Quaker."

Given Penn's reluctance to accept the name of Pennsylvania, he likely would have been equally reluctant (in fact, even more so) to have an entertainment district named after him. But the name Penn's Landing caught on.

Although this page is still under construction, eventually it will have a complete guide to all of the attractions on the Delaware Riverfront, on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides.

If you'd like to visit Independence Seaport Museum, please click here.

You can visit USS Olympia, the Navy ship which fired the opening shots of the Spanish-American War in 1898, by clicking here.

If you'd like to leave Penn's Landing and return to the home page of Enjoying Philadelphia, please click here.

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