Camden isn’t usually top of mind as a tourist destination, but its waterfront contains many family-friendly venues. They’re easy to reach via New Jersey Transit’s River Line and the RiverLink Ferry, which connects with Old City Philadelphia.
- Campbell’s Field. The home to minor league baseball’s Camden Riversharks opened in May 2001 and has twice been named Ballpark of the Year. Situated along the Delaware River, the 6,400-seat stadium boasts its own carousel and rock-climbing wall, as well as unbeatable views of the Philadelphia skyline—making it a most agreeable place for families to enjoy America’s pastime on a summer evening.
- Battleship New Jersey. Aboard the USS New Jersey—which opened as an educational museum and memorial on the Camden waterfront in 2001—children will climb up and down ladders and maneuver through tight passageways as they explore the history of the battleship’s past service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.
- Parks and Performing Arts. Your family might catch an outdoor evening concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center or stroll through Johnson Park on the Rutgers-Camden campus. The park’s been restored to its 1930s splendor and whimsically appointed with colored tiles depicting nursery rhymes, and bronze and limestone sculptures—including one of Peter Pan. “It’s a very pretty little park,” says Lynda Hitchman, associate curator of education at the Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA). RCCA offers community-based programs primarily for the children of Camden. However, its family-oriented performances at the Gordon Theater are open to the public. Call 856/225-6202 for the Summer 2014 schedule.
- Adventure Aquarium. Enter the 40-foot shark tunnel (if you dare) or venture through the West African River Experience, where you’ll meet two 3,000-pound hippos. Touch a sea star, a horseshoe crab, or a shark. Gaze in wonder at hundreds of brightly colored tropical fish and chuckle at the penguins as they waddle across Penguin Island.
- Camden Children’s Garden. Adjoining the Adventure Aquarium, the Camden Children’s Garden, gives kids the chance to scamper through the Picnic Garden among oversized cups, bowls, and ants. They might dig for dinosaur bones in the sand pit of the Dinosaur Garden, ride the Arrow River Train (part of the Railroad Garden), or climb in the Health and Fitness Garden.
Whether it’s baseball, battleships, or barracudas, you’re sure to find something for everyone at the Camden waterfront this summer.
Mary Ann McGann is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.