Are you looking for a fun and educational way to spend a day in Philadelphia? Do you want to learn more about the rich maritime heritage of the city and the region?
If so, you should definitely visit the Independence Seaport Museum, the premier destination on Penn’s Landing waterfront.
The Independence Seaport Museum was founded in 1961 and is dedicated to exploring the maritime history of the Delaware River, the Delaware Bay, and their tributaries.
The museum features award-winning and interactive exhibits, historic ships, workshops, events, and programs that appeal to visitors of all ages and interests.
In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Independence Seaport Museum, including what to see, what to do, how to get there, how to buy tickets, and more.
What to see at the Independence Seaport Museum
The Independence Seaport Museum has three main areas that you can explore: the main building, the historic ships, and the boat shop.
The main building
The main building of the museum houses several permanent and temporary exhibits that showcase the maritime history and culture of Philadelphia and the region. Some of the highlights include:
- Patriots & Pirates: This exhibit tells the story of Philadelphia’s role in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as well as its encounters with pirates and privateers.
- River Alive!: This exhibit explores the ecology and importance of the Delaware River watershed, which provides drinking water for 15 million people. You can learn about the wildlife, plants, weather, and human activities that affect the river.
- Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River: This exhibit examines the history and impact of African Americans on the Delaware River from the 17th century to the present day.
- Dilworth Park: This exhibit is a model of Dilworth Park, a public space located in front of City Hall that features a fountain, a lawn, a café, and an ice rink.
The historic ships
The Independence Seaport Museum is home to two historic ships that you can climb aboard and explore: Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna.
Cruiser Olympia: This ship is the oldest floating steel warship in the world and a National Historic Landmark.
It was launched in 1892 and served in several wars, including the Spanish-American War, where it led the U.S. Navy to victory at the Battle of Manila Bay.
You can see how sailors lived and worked on board this ship by visiting its cabins, engine room, gun turrets, bridge, sick bay, and more.
Submarine Becuna: This ship is a World War II-era submarine that was commissioned in 1944 and decommissioned in 1969.
It completed five wartime patrols in the Pacific Ocean, sinking eight enemy ships and earning four battle stars.
The boat shop
The boat shop is a workshop where you can watch skilled craftsmen build and restore wooden boats using traditional methods and tools.
You can also learn about boat design, construction, maintenance, and repair by taking classes or workshops offered by the museum.
You can even rent or buy a boat from the museum’s fleet of small craft.
What to do at the Independence Seaport Museum
The Independence Seaport Museum offers a variety of activities and programs that enhance your visit and make it more fun and educational. Some of them are:
Seafarin’ Saturday: This is a weekly program that takes place every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It features crafts, games, demonstrations, and stories related to the museum’s exhibits and themes.
It is free with museum admission and suitable for families and children of all ages.
Seaport Summer Camp: This is a summer program that runs from June to August for children ages 6 to 12. It offers a week-long adventure that combines learning, exploration, and fun.
Campers can choose from different themes such as pirates, shipwrecks, marine biology, and more. They can also enjoy activities such as sailing, kayaking, fishing, and visiting other attractions along the waterfront.
Seaport Sprouts: This is a monthly program that takes place on the first Wednesday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. It is designed for toddlers and preschoolers aged 2 to 5 and their caregivers.
It introduces them to the museum’s exhibits and topics through songs, stories, crafts, and play. It is free with museum admission and requires pre-registration.
Seaport Slumbers: This is an overnight program that allows you to spend a night at the museum with your family or group.
You can enjoy exclusive access to the exhibits and ships, as well as activities such as scavenger hunts, games, movies, and snacks.
How to get to the Independence Seaport Museum
The Independence Seaport Museum is located at 211 S Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA, 19106. It is easily accessible by various modes of transportation, such as:
- Car: You can drive to the museum and park in the nearby parking lots or garages. The closest parking lot is the Penn’s Landing Parking Lot, which is located right next to the museum. The parking fee is $20 per day or $25 for special events.
- Bus: You can take the SEPTA bus routes 21, 33, or 42 to the Chestnut Street/Columbus Boulevard stop, which is a short walk from the museum.
- Train: You can take the SEPTA Regional Rail lines to Jefferson Station or Suburban Station, which are both about a mile from the museum. You can then walk or take a bus or taxi to the museum.
- Bike: You can bike to the museum using the Delaware River Trail, which runs along the waterfront and connects to other bike trails in the city. You can find bike racks near the museum entrance where you can lock your bike.
How to buy tickets for the Independence Seaport Museum
You can buy tickets for the Independence Seaport Museum online or at the museum’s ticket office. The ticket prices are as follows:
- Adults: $18
- Seniors (65+): $16
- Children (3-12): $12
- Students (with ID): $12
- Military (with ID): $12
- Members: Free
The tickets include admission to all exhibits and ships, as well as some programs and events. You can also buy combo tickets that include admission to other attractions nearby, such as:
- Adventure Aquarium: $36 for adults, $31 for children
- Battleship New Jersey: $32 for adults, $24 for children
- National Constitution Center: $28 for adults, $18 for children
You can buy these combo tickets online or at any of the participating attractions.
In the realm of maritime exploration and historical reverence, the Independence Seaport Museum stands as a beacon of knowledge and inspiration.
The Independence Seaport Museum is a great place to visit if you are interested in learning about Philadelphia’s maritime history and culture.
You can see fascinating exhibits, historic ships, and boat workshops that will entertain and educate you.
You can also enjoy various activities and programs that will make your visit more fun and memorable.