Where the Wissahickon Creek spills into the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Canoe Club’s 18th-century mill stands next to a yard full of colorful boats. Each year, more than 300 guests take these kayaks into the water and flat-paddle down the scenic, tree-lined shores or head into the whitewater rapids downstream. Whatever their adventure, they maneuver their craft with confidence because Philadelphia Canoe Club’s certified instructors have instructed them through the fundamentals of boating and water safety, as they have since 1905.
Marsh Creek Lake, lined with verdant shores and rolling hills, bobs with fishing boats, kayaks, sailboats, and windsurfing boards. About 535 acres of azure waters bejewel the surrounding 1,705 acres of hiking trails and picnic areas. Throughout the day, Marsh Creek Watersports leads one-hour pontoon-boat excursions that take guests through a history lesson of the park and surrounding region, leaving time for peaceful moments spent gazing at the natural wildlife. During the summer months, Marsh Creek also hosts kids' sailing camps to acquaint young ones with the techniques and safe practices of aquatic navigation, such as defending against Peter Pan attacks.
Just a short walk from the colonial-era fieldstone barn, a sea of green sprouts up around a small pond. Inside this self-sustained ecosystem, turtles leisurely perch on fallen tree limbs that float atop the cool water. Scenes like this are common at Great Valley Nature Center, which stretches 10.5 verdant acres across streams, ponds, wetlands, fields, and woodland habitats. The center fosters an awareness of the land through educational programs for all ages, including kayaking trips, geocaching adventures, or Owl Prowl dinner expeditions. Along with enjoying access to 500 partner museums and gardens throughout the world, members can tour a replica Native American Lenape village, or visit raptors on the mend at the Bird of Prey center. The center’s wildflower garden blooms yellow and white in the spring, and its maple-sugar house preserves the artisanal technique of boiling down flannel shirts from sweet-smelling lumberjacks.