One of the dynamic aspects of owning a boat or being a guest on one is the ability to power or sail to fascinating destinations. It’s like finding a resort and bringing along your own cabana. The Greater Philadelphia boating region is rich in marina accommodations on interconnected, navigable waterways like the Delaware River and Bay, the C& D Canal and the Chesapeake Bay. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of some of the top destination marinas, chosen for location, access to interesting attractions, restaurants and nightlife, deep water and amenities. – Jay Lloyd
PHILADELPHIA MARINE CENTER
235 N. Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
More and more Chesapeake and Jersey shore boaters are setting a course for Philadelphia. Part of the attraction has been the development of marina facilities alongside Penn’s Landing, such as the prime 338 slip Philadelphia Marine Center that surrounds the Dave and Buster’s complex. It features easy-in, easy-out access to the Delaware River, a self service fuel dock, slip-side electric and satellite TV hookups, heads and showers. There are two on-site restaurants, the pub-like Dave and Buster’s and the popular Hibachi, a Japanese eatery with wonderful river views. The marina is a short walk or cab ride from Old City, Society Hill, the Historic District and Penn’s Landing’s attractions.
What it costs: Daily transient rates are $2.75 per foot. Call for holiday prices: 215-931-1000. Check extended stay and prices here.
THE PIERS MARINA
31 N. Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Located closer to Penn’s Landing, the intimate Piers Marina has the distinction of being located on the site of La Veranda Restaurant, a favorite of many Philadelphia movers and shakers. The ossobuco is outstanding. As for the marina, you’ll find all of the floating docks on two separate piers. Each slip is wired for TV and phone service. Free Wi-Fi is available for transients throughout the marina. I found the heads and showers to be clean and well-tended. There is some exposure to weather and wakes from the east, but a breakwater eases the effect. Extreme low tide can delay arrival and departure. Slips are available for a day or long-term. The Piers is within walking distance of all the Penn’s Landing, Old City and Society Hill restaurants and attractions.
What it costs: Daily transients pay $1.50 per foot plus electricity. For all the rates, click here.
DELAWARE CITY MARINA
302 Canal Street
Delaware City, DE 19706
The Delaware City Marina is definitely a destination stop. It anchors a quaint village of boutique shops, restaurants, a pristine nature walk and the gateway to historic Pea Patch Island and Fort Delaware. Its location is ideal for transients passing through the canal that connects the Chesapeake and the Delaware. Situated within hailing distance of the Delaware River entrance to the canal, the marina features floating docks, a tidy bathhouse with heads and showers, a ship’s store, laundry, a fuel dock and full maintenance services. It’s a good place to overnight and wait out the tide changes.
What it costs: Daily transients pay $2 per foot plus electric. Group discounts are also available.
CANYON CLUB MARINA
900 Ocean Drive
Cape May, NJ 08204
The Canyon Club Marina is the best of all worlds. Like a country club for deep sea sportsmen, this total resort community is a place to call home. It’s ideally located for fast access to the prime Atlantic canyon fishing grounds and also puts a boater on the Cape May canal route to the Delaware Bay. If you’re a guest on a Hemingway-style fishing expedition, a Canyon Club invite is highly coveted. The marina is close to the popular Lobster House restaurant and a short bike ride away from the Cape May beaches, eateries, shops and nightlife. This modern marina features floating docks and in-slip fueling, the cleanest heads and showers imaginable, and a swimming pool. Canyon Club caters to large sport fishing boats, but will also accommodate transient sailors enjoying the blue water cruising.
What it costs: Daily transients pay $2.95 per foot plus electricity.
100 Bourbon Street
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
At the head of the region’s most popular sailing ground, the Chesapeake Bay, you’ll find Tidewater Marina tucked into Havre de Grace, an enviable weekend destination for boaters and land-lubbers alike. The town is known for its hot steamed crabs and nautical environment that turns a street stroll into a historic venture. Manicured lawns frame neat, country-style homes, and the center of town holds unique antiquing and shopping opportunities—in addition to the crabs! The marina is largely devoted to sailboats and offers quick access to the upper portion of the Chesapeake. Facilities and amenities include waterside picnic areas, Wi-Fi service, heads and showers, a courtesy shuttle, bike and kayak rentals and full maintenance facilities.
What it costs: Daily transients pay $1.50 per foot plus electricity.
INNER HARBOR MARINA
400 Key Highway
Baltimore, MD 21230
Baltimore is one of the most popular destinations on the Chesapeake Bay, and the Inner Harbor is a favorite for overnighters. The marina anchors the corner of the Inner Harbor alongside the Science Center and a short from attractions including the National Aquarium, historic ships and Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles. A traditional boating weekend on the bay often involves a sail to the Inner Harbor, a stay at the marina and a stroll to the ballpark for dinner and a game. Views from the neighboring Rusty Scupper restaurant or historic Federal Hill offer a vista on the harbor, its boat traffic and Fort McHenry. The marina offers floating docks, heads and showers, a ship’s store, Wi-Fi service, cable TV and round-the-clock security. Call on channel 16 and the staff will keep a lookout for you, and then guide you to a slip.
What it costs: Daily transients pay $2 a foot on weekdays and $2.50 Friday through Sunday, plus electricity. For all the transient rates, click here.
HAVEN HARBOUR MARINA
20880 Rock Hall Ave.
Rock Hall, MD 21661
Finally, we arrive at my own home port on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Haven Harbour Marina. It’s both a place to call home and a getaway destination. The marina is ideally situated on the picturesque and protected waters of Swan Creek and in the activity-rich environment of Rock Hall, Maryland. Over 250 slips surround a country club-esque setting complete with swimming pools and picnic groves. A newly-opened bed and breakfast accommodates boaters or guests who want to stretch their sea legs, and a reception center holds individual heads and showers along with the popular Passages bar and grill. The private eatery is open to transient and permanent slip holders and boasts two upper decks for sipping and supping with magnificent views of Swan Creek and wildlife, like the swans and herons that live, undisturbed on its waters. Bicycles and kayaks are available for rent, and it’s a short walk or bike ride to town. In Rock Hall, you’ll find at least half-a-dozen first rate restaurants, plus pubs, nightlife and shops to restock the boat galley. Slip reservations are recommended for weekend stays.
What it costs: Daily transients pay $2.40 a foot plus electric. On holidays, the rates go to $3.35 a foot.
Here’s wishing you a boat of your own, or an invite on a sail or power craft heading to your dream destination! Next year: the Caribbean.