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.
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.
Although they started with only five canoes in 1967, the river riders at Bucks County River Country, Inc. knew their fleet of watercraft was destined to grow. They now rent kayaks, tubes, and rafts alongside their traditional canoes. Now led by the charismatic River Dan, the shop draws patrons in with its proximity to the Delaware River. Once there, they can choose from a variety of vessels to drift past wildlife.
Framed by unfiltered wilderness and the occasional supports of a crossing bridge, the Schuylkill River is a secluded getaway for water lovers looking to float down nature’s slow-motion roller coaster. Reading Rivertribe shuttles aqueous adventurers to chosen points along the river for leisurely kayaking, canoeing, or tubing, with each trip ending where it started: in the stomach of a dreaming whale or next to a CPR-certified shuttle driver.
Delaware River Tubing launches tubes, rafts, and kayaks on five- to six-mile trips down scenic waterways just north of where George Washington historically crossed the Delaware River. Shuttles ferry groups to launch points, where watercraft journeys begin along the wide river. In addition to renting vessels, Delaware River Tubing's crew leads guided kayak tours that can highlight local wildlife and tackle class one rapids like a mall cop tackling a gummy-bear thief.
During river adventures, scents of barbecue waft across the water from the aptly named Famous River Hotdog Man. The riverside eatery, founded in 1987, partners with Delaware River Tubing to give each customer a hot meal, which they can devour at picnic tables in the water.
Paddle Creek’s picturesque launch settings makes it an ideal jumping-off point for river excursions in single and tandem kayaks and canoes or atop a standup paddleboard. The staff of outdoor enthusiasts helps everyone from novice to advanced paddlers select their ideal vessels―for rental or purchase―and even recommends areas of interest. In addition to equipment rentals, the adventure spot offers lessons as well as self-guided tours.
Teams clad in protective goggles scatter into a mountain field thick with laurel, rhododendron, and brier as they seek cover, their markers locked and loaded. Hearing paintballs whiz through the brush, a player dives into prone position. Adjusting her goggles after colliding with the ground, the combatant freezes, notices the silhouette of a whitetail deer crouched in the brush just yards away, and lets down her guard long enough to appreciate the moment before taking new aim.
At Pocono Mountain Paintball, players step onto 12 fields—including three scenario fields—ranging from untouched natural terrain to 1,700 feet of trenches and sandbag bunkers. To maximize players' game time, Pocono's staff maintains a reservation system that limits the fields to 100 players per day. Further touches include camouflage overall rentals, an online FAQ with participant advice, and changing rooms with hot showers so players can spruce up before meeting Mom for a post-game debriefing. Pocono's crew also coordinates rafting, biking, and kayaking packages through partner company Whitewater Rafting Adventures.