What is your favorite view of Philadelphia? The top of the Rocky Steps looking down the Parkway? Floating along in the Philadelphia Zoo Balloon? The observation deck on top of the Liberty One skyscraper? At Daily Vacationer, we have a new favorite view: standing in the middle of the Schuylkill River. Even with all the places that we've been in and around the city, we've yet to find a more peaceful way to experience traveling into Center City than on the hidden river that snakes around buildings, under bridges, and past the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. An absolutely stunning experience that we recommend to everyone made possible by Standup Philly - the new SUP rental and tour company located in Bartram's Garden.
What is SUP you ask? SUP stands for Stand Up Paddleboarding, a fantastic active yet relaxing past time where you stand on a long flat board (rather like a surfboard) and use a long kayak-like paddle to get around. And while balancing on top of the water sounds intimidating, we can assure you that it's easier than it looks (we managed to not fall in during our two hours on the river in any case). The sport originated in Hawaii and has spread internationally to the point where it's pretty commonplace to see folks paddling about on oceans and lakes. But while SUP can be found just about anywhere, it has yet to become the norm in more urban locations such as Philadelphia's own Schuylkill River.
Standup Philly decided to tap into a largely unexplored niche of outdoor recreation in a city that not only has the most extensive urban park system in the country but also encourages its visitors and residents to stay active and take care of the nature made available in Philadelphia. Based out of Bartram's Garden (the nation's oldest living botanical garden - which has free admission and deserves a visit itself), Standup Philly runs SUP rentals and tours from the boathouse down by the river. The launch point is so peaceful and exotic looking in places that it's actually quite a shock to paddle past docks overgrown with foliage, turn a corner in the river, and come up on the skyscrapers of Philadelphia's skyline. We love that Standup Philly is not only dedicated to furthering interest in the sport of SUP but they also seek to give back to the local community and be conscious of ways to further water conservation in Philadelphia.
Our personal experience was absolutely amazing with breathtaking views at every point up and downstream. Soon after leaving the boathouse (still on our knees at this point - they like to ease you into being comfortable balancing), we paddled directly under a cargo train headed across the river. From there we continued up the Schuylkill passing under various bridges such as South Street and Walnut Street and coming along side the Schuylkill Banks Trail and Boardwalk on one side and University City on the other. Lots to look at and see from a brand new fascinating perspective. Passersby around us looked on with much interest as urban paddleboarding is incredibly novel at the moment and cool to see!
Standup Philly is open for rentals on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and runs two hour guided tours once a month (great for beginners!). Boards are available for 1-hour, 2-hour, or half day rentals. Check the schedule for hours and rates.
Insider Tip: Follow Standup Philly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find out about Promo Codes and Specials or become a Bartram's Garden Member to save $10 on your rental!
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More Photos from Daily Vacationer