Delaware River Tubing: A Fun Way to Float Away a Summer Day

Cathy Bennett Kopf Avatar

Man and woman river tubing
Photo credit: Shutterstock

A Delaware River tubing trip is a fun warm weather activity you want to plan early. Because the Delaware is a quick trip from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, river tubing draws crowds, especially on the weekends. Here are the best spots, what to bring and more essential tips to plan your Delaware river tubing trip this summer.

Where’s the Delaware River?

The Delaware winds its way for 330 miles from New York to Delaware, through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. According to the National Park Service, the water quality is some of the highest in the Northeast. The river is a rich home for wildlife with world-class trout fishing and a popular destination for canoeing, kayaking and river tubing.

Screenshot of Delaware River map through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York
Photo credit: Google Maps

Best Spots for Delaware River Tubing

Because the Delaware is long, you can find a stretch of river suitable for tubing in many different locations. Some of the most popular places with tube rentals are:

When’s the Best Time of Year for Delaware River Tubing?

Although tubing outfitters begin booking trips in mid-spring and continue through mid-fall, the summer months are the prime Delaware River tubing season.

Early or late summer rains mean high water levels and warm temperatures, the ideal river conditions for a tubing excursion. A dry July can turn the Delaware into a lazy river and your tubing trip will end up as a very slow rafting adventure.

Mom and daughter on colorful Delaware River tubes
A day on the river is a great way to spend a summer day. Photo credit: Visit Bucks County/Kevin Crawford

Book Your River Tubing Adventure

Weekends or Weekdays?

First, if you can plan your trip for a weekday, do it. As I mentioned, the weekends are especially popular for day trippers from the tri-state area. The parking lots fill up quickly and the crowd can be young and rowdy. Fine, if that’s your thing. But families in particular will prefer a Tuesday vibe.

child in boat wearing life jacket
Photo credit: Grisell DeNapoles

What’s the Minimum Age for River Tubing?

Check the age restrictions on children on the tube rental company websites. Kittatinny Canoes, one of the established Delaware River outfitters in Pennsylvania, accepts kids eight years and older who weigh at least 60 pounds.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Although life jackets are required with every rental and outfitters conduct safety briefings, parents should be confident about their children’s swimming abilities before tubing to ensure a day of family fun. Delaware River tubing is a generally serene float, but you will encounter Class I rapids.

How Long is a Delaware River Tubing Trip?

Like Gilligan, expect a three-hour cruise, but keep in mind that a slow-moving river can extend your trip. That’s a long time to be out on the water, in the sun, so you’ll want to be prepared with sunscreen and other river tubing essentials.

Sunscreen in a hand
Photo credit: Canva

What to Bring on a River Tubing Trip

Some items are required on a Delaware River tubing trip by the outfitters, like shoes. Others are totally discretionary but they can make or break your day on the water. Here are some of the things to round up before you go tubing:

Musts

Consider

Leave at Home

  • Valuables
  • Glass containers
  • Pets

Can You Bring Alcohol on a Delaware River Tubing Trip?

Yes, but not in glass bottles. Small coolers are permitted. Some of the outfitters sell or rent them for the day.

Are There Restrooms?

Tube rental companies will have restroom facilities at their check-in locations. During your day’s float, if nature calls, well…

The Delaware’s depth ranges from two to four feet in most spots, so it’s pretty easy to pop off for a “swim” and then get back on your tube

Can Pets Tube?

No. This is one adventure they’ll have to skip.

Are there Restaurants Along the Delaware River?

You’ll definitely get hungry during your river tubing adventure. So bring snacks. Energy bars or a high-quality trail mix can take you from breakfast in an area diner before you begin, to lunch at a charming river town cafe after you finish.

You can stow sammies in your floating cooler for nibbling along the way. But please be careful with your trash. The Delaware’s clean and to keep it that way it’s important to carry out what you carry in.

Want to stop for your meal? Plan to visit the Famous River Hot Dog Man at the Adventure Island outpost. The restaurant is located on Frenchtown Road in Milford, NJ, and many of the planned Delaware River tubing routes float by. Eat your meal at one of the floating picnic tables. A free BBQ meal is included with bookings made through Delaware River Tubing.

Kittatinny Canoes tubing group on the Delaware River
Delaware River tubing is a fun group activity thanks to stay together straps that keep the party floating! Photo credit: Kittatinny Canoes

Why a Delaware River Tubing Trip is Great for Groups

Most of the Delaware River outfitters have special packages for large group outings. That makes river tubing a great activity for a girls’ trip, family reunion or corporate team-building outing.

You’ll receive a group booking discount. And the tubers in your party can float in unison thanks to handy stay-together straps.

How Much Does a Delaware River Tubing Trip Cost?

Expect to pay about $35 for a single tube from one of the Delaware River tubing outfitters. The price will include transportation since your trip is one-way. You’ll either enter the river at the check-in spot, or get shuttled by the company to a launch area and then float back to where you’ve parked your car. This all depends on which company you choose.

Pricing will also vary based on your tube selection. Some companies offer upgraded tubes that provide a sit-in experience with backrests. Others offer tandem tubes.

Since most tubers wait until the last minute to check weather conditions, expect a discount if you book in advance.

When Your Tubing Trip is Over

You don’t have to run from the river and head home when you’re back on dry land. Delaware River country has charming small towns, forest campgrounds, terrific hotels and more adventure opportunities to check out, if you want to extend your stay.

A playground styled like a castle in Bucks County PA
This Bucks County playground is a great stop for your little royals before heading home after river tubing. Photo credit: Visit Bucks County/Kevin Crawford Imagery

Bucks County, PA

You can get in the river in Bucks County, about an hour’s drive north of Philadelphia. One of the must-visits here is Washington Crossing Historic Park. Many consider General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware at this location the turning point in the Revolutionary War.

Take a self-guided driving tour of the 12 remaining covered bridges in Bucks County. Or check out one of six castles in the area – including one just for kids. Bucks County has charming B&Bs and great farm to table dining. Bensalem and Quakerstown are your best bets for larger chain hotels.

Bucks County Tubing Companies

New Jersey River Tubing

Launch in New Jersey if you’re interested in checking out Adventure Island. Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park has a licensed tubing outfitter and historic towpath trails for biking and hiking. Nearby Princeton boasts its famous University campus plus a boutique-filled downtown.

New Jersey Tubing Companies

  • Delaware River Tubing
  • Big Bear Gear
  • Pennsylvania River Tubing

Pennsylvania River Tubing

Delaware River tubing is just one of the many fun things to do in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Want more wet? Check out the area’s water parks at Camelback, Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari. Not enough? Nature delivers amazing waterfalls at Bushkill Falls. Love a good railroad tour? Head to Jim Thorpe and ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.

Pennsylvania Tubing Companies

  • Kittatinny Canoes
  • Chamberlain Canoes
  • New York River Tubing

New York River Tubing

Port Jervis, on the Pennsylvania border, is New York’s river tubing headquarters. You’re a short hop from the Catskills, an old-timey vacation destination that’s experiencing a renaissance. Headliners perform during the summer at Bethel Woods, site of the famous Woodstock festival. Families with kids can check out LEGOLAND and the Kartrite waterpark. Gotta shop? Woodbury Commons is one of the premier outlet destinations in the country.

New York Tubing Companies

  • Silver Canoe and Whitewater Rafting
  • Indian Head Canoes and Rafts
Cathy Bennett Kopf serves as the Daily Editor of SheBuysTravel, reporting to Editor-in-Chief Cindy Richards. She began travel writing after serving as the unofficial (and unpaid) vacation coordinator for hundreds of family and friend trips. She launched her blog, The Open Suitcase, in 2012 and joined the SBT (formerly TravelingMom) team in 2016. A lifelong resident of New York, Cathy currently resides in the scenic Hudson River Valley. She’s a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the International Travel Writers Alliance and TravMedia.
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