9 Ways to Party on a Boat in Pennsylvania

There is such a specific pleasure to hanging out on a boat, feeling the wind on your face and taking in the scenery – be it a glittering city skyline, or a lush forest that spreads out for miles. Add to that a drink in hand, or a decadent catered feast, and you’ve got yourself an evening to remember!

Though Pennsylvania is landlocked, there are a bounty of gorgeous rivers and lakes sprinkled across the Commonwealth, each one with its own history and ecosystem. There are so many ways to enjoy these bodies of water, but none as much fun as actually being out on the water and seeing the landscape from a whole new perspective. Here are nine epic boating experiences available in PA, each offering some sort of food and drink:

Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat (Harrisburg, PA)


This charming craft, an authentic stern-driven paddle wheel riverboat has been cruising along the Susquehanna River through Harrisburg, delighting locals and tourists, alike, for the last 31 years. It offers scenic sightseeing tours nearly every day throughout the summer, as well as a packed schedule of ticketed dinners and events that go on well into the fall. Popular cruises include the Brews Cruise, featuring brewers from around the region and the country, and interactive Murder Mystery Dinner Theater Cruises. The entire boat is also available for private rentals and charters. The Pride of the Susquehanna is actually a nonprofit, and the proceeds from its cruises (aside from operational expenses) are donated to community service projects that benefit seniors, children, military veterans and other great causes. 1 Riverside Dr., City Island, Harrisburg; (717) 234-6500.

Proud Mary Showboat at Lake Raystown Resort (Entriken)


Raystown Lake is a reservoir in Huntingdon County (about 4o miles southeast of Altoona) that offers stunning scenery and so much beautiful nature. Lake Raystown Resort is a popular destination, comprising 400 acres of property right on the water, including lodgings, dining, swimming, family activities and more. One of its signature offerings is the Proud Mary Showboat, a paddlewheel boat with a busy calendar of entertainment. In the summer, weekends see events like karoake cruises, prime rib dinners and kids bingo brunches, and weekday schedules consist of sightseeing and dinner cruises. From September through late October, fall foliage cruises are a wonderful way to take in the colors of the changing season. 3101 Chipmunk Crossing, Entriken; (814) 658-3584.

Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat (Williamsport)


There is another paddlewheel riverboat in Central PA! The Hiawatha AKA Queen of the Susquehanna which cruises the river along Susquehanna State Park in Williamsport. Its season runs from mid-May to mid-October, and the hour-long trip guides passengers through the story of the Hiawatha, and the early days of the river, through narration and music. The Hiawatha frequently hosts food and drink-themed events, like its popular Craft Beer Cruises, which spotlight a different local brewer, like Bald Birds Brewing Co. and Old Forge Brewing Co., on each cruise. There are also monthly dinner cruises, with meals provided by area restaurants, such as Barrel 135 and Real Taste Taqueria. 2205 Hiawatha Blvd., Williamsport;(570) 326-2500.

Victorian Princess (Erie)


There is no better way to experience Lake Erie than aboard the area’s only authentic paddle wheeler, The Victorian Princess. This fun, festive triple-decker boat hosts numerous events, including many brunch, lunch and dinner cruises, with menus designed by The Colony Pub & Grille and a cash bar. A popular option is the $5 “Wild Wednesday” cruise, which takes place at 5:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month throughout the season (June through October) and features a DJ and drink specials. Private cruises are popular options for field trips, corporate events and weddings. 1 State St., Erie; (814) 459-9696.

Nautical Nature at Moraine State Park (Portersville)


Anchored by Lake Arthur, Moraine State Park is an incredible slice of nature in Butler County. Take in the lake’s lovely scenery and wildlife from aboard Nautical Nature, a 37-passenger enclosed pontoon boat which boards from the McDanels Boat Launch. The boat offers daily tours on the lake throughout the summer, which are open to the public. Dinner and brunch cruises take place on the third Saturday and Sunday of each month, respectively, and are catered by Artisan Catering Company. Every Wednesday at 5 p.m., from June through August, climb aboard for a Pizza Cruise, with food provided by Pizza Joes in Portersville. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance for these relaxing, peaceful lake cruises! 225 Pleasant Valley Rd., Portersville; (724) 368-8811.

Cruisin’ Tikis (Pittsburgh)


Cruisin’ Tikis is essentially a floating tiki hut bar, built for six, that cruises the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh! Got a bigger party? No problem – Cruisin’ Tikis can tie two boats together to create a 12-person flotilla! Led by experienced, certified captains, the huts float along at a pleasantly lazy 5 m.p.h., while you sip your favorite beverage. This is a BYO situation, and guests are encouraged to bring whatever they’d like to eat and drink; a cooler and ice are helpfully provided! 4017 Washington Rd., Suite 140; McMurray; (833) 744-8454.

Gateway Clipper (Pittsburgh)


Whether you want to sightsee, try new wines, or to simply catch a ride to a Pirate’s game in style, the Gateway Clipper is an amazing way to experience the beauty of downtown Pittsburgh. Since 1958, this locally owned cruise company’s fleet of five river boats has helped to showcase the architecture and nature that the Steel City has to offer. Dining cruises add to the fun, whether you’ve got the family in tow (the superhero and princess-themed kid’s dinner cruises are a big hit with the littles) or you want to cut loose with friend on 21+ dinner cruises offering wine, beer and bourbon tastings. 350 West Station Square Dr., Pittsburgh; (412) 355-7980.

Spirit Cruises (Philadelphia)


Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views, live entertainment, and lavish food and drink on the Spirit of Philadelphia, which departs from Penns Landing in Philly’s Old City neighborhood. The multi-story boat travels along the Delaware River with a beautiful view of the city and the Ben Franklin Bridge, and often celebrates the evening with a fireworks display! There are tons of different cruise themes, including brunch, lunch and dinner, as holiday and specialty cruises, like the Sunday Funday and Silent Disco Moonlight Cruises. The Spirit is also available for private events, and is a very popular choice for weddings and receptions! 401 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia; (215) 923-1419.

National Canal Museum Dinner Cruises (Easton)


The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor organizes fabulous Saturday night dinner cruises every summer (early July through late September) at the National Canal Museum in Easton. Each one has a special theme, which highlights history, music and food. Guests on each cruise, in addition to enjoying the delicious meals catered by Culinary Experts (from Allentown), will experience a lift lock in Lock 47 at the lower end of the canal in Hugh Moore Park, which is a way to see how canal boats were once lowered and raised as they traveled along each section of the canal! The themed dinners, such as Black History on the Canal and Old-Tyme Country, feature curated live music, and are BYOB. 2750 Hugh Moore Park Rd., Easton; (610) 923-3548.

Where else have you enjoyed dinner and drinks on a boat in PA? Let us know in the comments here or on the PA Eats Facebook page!

  • Feature photo: Pexels