Camden (New Jersey)
Decades of disinvestment and government mismanagement have contributed to Camden's sky-high crime rate, and many of the city's neighborhoods are hotbeds of gang- and drug-related violence. However, the government has begun developing the Delaware River waterfront, which is now a popular and well-traveled tourist destination offering grand views of the Philadelphia skyline and a multitude of activities for adults and children. Headlines about violence and crime in Camden may dissuade many tourists to the Philadelphia area from visiting, but a one-day trip to the waterfront may be well worth the trip.
Nearly all attractions in Camden are located along the Camden waterfront, which offers family-friendly activities and scenic views of Philadelphia across the Delaware River. The downtown area contains the Rutgers University-Camden campus and the city's small central business district. The Camden waterfront and downtown areas are considered safe and are patrolled by police. Although the rest of Camden is plagued by urban blight, poverty, and gang-related drug violence, you will be safe as long as you stay in the waterfront and downtown areas and take sensible precautions.
- New Jersey Transit handles bus routes into the city.
- Megabus. Direct service to Camden from Pittsburgh, State College, and Harrisburg. Many more cities have service to Philadelphia just across the river.
- From Philadelphia, take the Ben Franklin Bridge or Walt Whitman Bridge to New Jersey. Camden is directly across from Philadelphia.
- From New York and Northern New Jersey, take the Turnpike to Route 73 North (Exit 4). Take I-295 South to Exit 26. Follow the signs for I-676 and Camden.
- From Delaware, take the Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey. Take I-295 North to Exit 26. Follow the directions from New York and Northern New Jersey.
- The nearest major airport is the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL IATA), which is about 20 minutes away. From the airport, you may either take a cab (which will be costly), or use public transportation. By train, take the SEPTA Airport Line to the Jefferson Station, then travel five blocks to the 8th and Market PATCO station. From there, take the PATCO Hi-Speed Line into Camden.
- The PATCO Hi-Speed Line is a rail line that operates between Center City Philadelphia and Lindenwold, New Jersey. The train operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, albeit with very infrequent trips between about 2AM and 6AM. Fares to downtown Camden (City Hall and Broadway stations) are $1.40 from Philadelphia and $1.60 from other stations in South Jersey.
- The River Line is a light rail line serving 20 stations between Trenton and Camden, following the Delaware River in New Jersey. Trains run every 15 minutes during rush hour, every half hour at other times. Trains run until 1AM on Saturday and 10PM (very early!) on other days. The line connects with the PATCO Hi-Speed Line at Camden's Walter Rand Transportation Center. One-way fare between Trenton and Camden is $1.50. There are discounts for senior citizens, children and families. Monthly passes are available.
- RiverLink Ferry, Columbus Blvd and Walnut Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. From May through September, the RiverLink Ferry is the most entertaining way of crossing the Delaware River when visiting the Camden Waterfront and historic Penn's Landing. Enjoy the scenic view atop the open deck of the double-decker Ferry or take cover inside the sheltered cabin. It's also a great location for a private party. The ferry runs between Penn's Landing in Center City Philadelphia and the Camden waterfront. Boats run hourly between the two points. Express service to the Susquehanna Bank Center is available when events are held there, and ferries run until 30 minutes after the event ends. Roundtrip: Adults $7, seniors 65+ and children 3-12 $6, children under 3 free.
This is the easiest way to get around Camden. There is ample parking in the waterfront area, which is where all of the day time attractions are found.
Most of the worthwhile attractions in Camden are clustered in the Riverfront and Rutgers University areas, so walking is an option, once parked and decided on where you will visit. It is very nice to walk around the waterfront,especially on a beautiful day.
- Fortuna Taxi Service, 1435 River Ave, #B, +1 856-757-9590
- Fortuna Taxi Service, 2817 Sherman Ave, +1 856-365-8373
- Independent Cab, 1437 Haddon Ave, +1 856-966-3233
- Gonzalez Cab Incorporated, 792 N 30th St +1 856 338-1743
By public transportation
There are bus lines operated by New Jersey Transit that run throughout Camden. The NJ Transit RiverLine runs near the waterfront. The Walter Rand Transportation Center is a big transit hub, from where you can get the PATCO train to Philadelphia, as well as the RiverLine. The closest PATCO station to the waterfront attractions is at City Hall (at the intersection of 5th and Market Streets), but it is a good 10 minutes' walk down Market from the aquarium and further still from the music hall; if you do not want to walk, a better bet for a visitor from Philadelphia would be to disembark at PATCO's Broadway stop (which is part of the Walter Rand complex) and catch the RiverLine to the Aquarium or Waterfront Entertainment Center stop.
- 1 USS Battleship New Jersey Museum, 62 Battleship Place, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The U.S. Navy’s most decorated battleship: Discover the dangerous and exciting life of a sailor on a guided tour aboard the “Big J.” Hear tales of its missions in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War, then experience combat firsthand as you engage the new 4-D Flight Simulator, a jaw-dropping ride that lets you fly your own Seahawk plane into a dog fight with the enemy and land on the water next to the battleship. Then, tour the radar and sonar-tracking stations featuring dramatic videos of actual Tomahawk missile launches. You can spend the night on board the ship as part of the overnight encampment program.
- 2 Walt Whitman House, 328 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Mickle Blvd.), ☏ . W-Sa 10AM–noon and 1–4PM; Su 1-4PM. Visits by guided tour only., Call for tour schedule. The only house famed poet Walt Whitman ever owned is a National Historic Landmark. The small house, now a museum dedicated to the legacy of this great American poet, contains a giant collection of original letters, personal belongings, photographs and furnishings. Not far from the house is historic Harleigh Cemetery, Whitman's final resting place. Free. Donations accepted.
- Wiggins Park and Marina, Mickle Blvd. at the River, ☏ , . Located between the Adventure Aquarium and the Battleship, Wiggins Park & Marina features a 50-slip marina, a promenade along the Delaware River and outdoor concerts on its Riverstage for summer strolls and barbeques, or views of the River and Philadelphia skyline year-round. A hot spot for free concerts and Waterfront festivals, including the annual Sunset Jazz Series, boaters can also dock boats up to 30 feet long for the day, week, month or season.
- 3 Adventure Aquarium, One Aquarium Dr, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. Over two-dozen sharks in the 550,000-gallon Shark Realm. 4-D theater. Adventure Aquarium will lead you through an underwater world complete with the West African River Experience (home to the only two hippos inside an aquarium and a free-flight aviary), a 40-foot, walk-through shark tunnel and the Jules Verne Gallery, where you will discover all kinds of exotic and wonderful animals. Adult (13+) $28; child (2-12) $21.
- 4 Camden Children's Garden, 3 Riverside Dr (on the Camden Waterfront), ☏ . W-Su 10AM-5PM. Kids can play and discover the natural world. Hop aboard the miniature train for a ride through The Storybook Garden, find a flurry of activity inside the Butterfly House, take a spin on the Carousel and explore the Dinosaur Garden, where you'll find an Apatosaurus made of car parts or dig in a sandpit for old dinosaur bones. $9. Under 1 year old free.
- 5 Rutgers - Camden Center for the Arts, 314 Linden St, ☏ . May-Aug M-F 10AM-4PM; Sept-Apr M-Sa 10AM-4PM; Th until 8PM. Fine art exhibits. Free. Donations accepted.
- 6 BB&T Pavilion (formerly Susquehana Bank Center), One Harbour Blvd., ☏ , (for tickets), . A 25,000-seat outdoor amphitheater that features views of the Philadelphia skyline. During the summer, it serves as the perfect place to spread out a blanket under the stars for evening concerts. Jimmy Buffett holds an annual concert here around late August and all of downtown Camden becomes packed with Parrotheads. During the fall and winter months, it becomes an enclosed, climate-controlled, 1,600– to 7,000-seat theater featuring concerts, Broadway productions and family-friendly entertainment.
- 7 Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center, 101 Cooper St (at 2nd St.), ☏ . A multi-cultural literary, performing and visual arts center dedicated to continuing its namesake's legacy of artistic excellence. The center has become a hub for authors, both well-known and emerging, and its calendar features author’s readings, dance, ongoing open-mic nights, and a variety of music and theater performances.
- 8 Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum, 1912 S Broadway, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu, Th & Su noon-4PM.
- MLK House, 753 Walnut St. Martin Luther King Jr. boarded here during his time as a graduate student of Crozer Theological Seminary. It is slated for demolition.
- 9 Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 642 Market St, ☏ .
There is food available at the Aquarium and at the BB&T Pavilion. Some other places are the following:
- Market Street Pizzeria, 1 Market Street, ☏ . Family-friendly pizzeria and Italian bistro. On the entrance side of the Victor Lofts. It is such a popular place for Rutgers students, surrounding businesses and aquarium visitors. Their pizzas are made with Grandee cheese. Special pizzas are really special. Not cheap but reasonable. $2.50 single slices, everything else $8-20.
- Market Gourmet, 1 Market Street, ☏ . At the Victor Lofts. Popular with locals and students, it is rather like a Wawa: a convenience store with good sandwiches and other deli-esque fare. Great grocery selection, with imports from the owners' native Turkey alongside more typical convenience-store fare. Very friendly people. Seating and Wifi available. Their Nescafe cafe hot drinks are worth to try.
- Cooper Court, Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Haddon Ave & Mickle Blvd, toll-free: . The chicken caesar salad is wonderful.
- Crossroads Cafe, 2 Riverside Dr., ☏ . This is across the street from the Aquarium and has a nice cafeteria style selection.
- George's Restaurant, 223 Market St., ☏ . This is a nice little place to eat.
- Shirley's Brass Rail, 425 Market Street, ☏ . M-F 8AM-5PM. A diner with almost criminally short hours (as any New Jerseyan would say, what kind of diner isn't open at night or on weekends?) Shirley's is not too far from the Post Office, the Court House, and Rutgers. The cheese steak with onions is great.
- Corrine's Place, 1254 Haddon Ave., ☏ . Corrine's has great soul food.
- Friends Cafe, 319 Friends St. (By Camden Towers dormitory and Rutgers Science & Business building). 11AM-8PM. Wonderfully eclectic Korean-American fusion, featuring soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers with a Korean twist. Popular with Rutgers-Camden students as it's practically on campus. $5-10.
- Black Eyed Susan's, 5th and Penn St. (Across from the main doors to the East Wing of the Law School). M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Gourmet soup and sandwich cart. Cards are accepted. $5-10.
- Latin American Restaurant, 2 locations: 515 Market Street, and 3125 Federal Street. M-F 8AM-5PM. Don't let the ludicrously simplistic name fool you. If you find yourself in downtown Camden at lunchtime on a weekday eat here. Authentic Dominican cuisine at fantastic prices. The Federal Street location is the original, but as it's in the barrio it isn't really accessible to tourists. $5-10; standard lunch is about $6..
- Newtown Kitchen, 315 Market St., ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. New American cuisine with soul food influences. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet brunch on Sundays 10AM-3PM ($10.95 for adults, $7.95 for children) that is particularly well-reviewed. The aesthetic is jazz. Service is friendly and helpful, although it seems some of the staff are a bit inexperienced. The original location at 516 Martin Luther King Blvd was bought by the state to make way for a new health sciences center, precipitating the present move to a new location on Market Street; any confusion or disorder during 2016 might be attributed to this. About $10-20.
- The Victor's Pub, 1 Market Street. 10AM-2AM daily. The main watering hole in downtown Camden, occupying a good chunk of the first floor of the Victor Lofts. A relaxed community bar; the patrons are a mix of students--especially law students and medical students--and assorted others from around the community. Prices for drinks are quite reasonable, although the beer selection is somewhat limited. Drink specials are available some nights and generally quite good. Food is available and ranges from bar snacks to full-price entrees. Try the crab and artichoke dip. $2-6 for beer, $5-10 for cocktails and wine, $5-25 for food.
There really are not any nice places to stay within the city. Your best bet is to stay in the local area. Camden is close to Cherry Hill and Philadelphia and is convenient to NJ Turnpike Exits 3 and 4.
Camden has a national reputation for its violent crime rates, which once ranked as the highest in the country, although there has been a significant drop in violent crime, with 2017 seeing the fewest homicides in three decades. Real estate analytics company NeighborhoodScout has named it within the top 5 "most dangerous" cities in the United States every year since it has compiled the list. In addition, since the FBI began uniformly reporting crime data in the mid 1980s, Camden has never seen its yearly violent crime rate drop below 2 per 100 residents. In comparison, the national rate is about 0.37 per 100 residents.
Don't wander past the riverfront and Rutgers areas along with the block of the Susquehanna Bank Center. During the day, the riverfront and downtown areas are safe, provided that you don't flash your valuables. The Rutgers and Camden police are also highly present. Approach them if you have any concerns. However, do not wander around alone at night. It is dangerous. The downtown area is nearly empty after the Court House, Rutgers University, and other major businesses close down for the evenings. Keep in mind that the drug trade fuels a lot of Camden's crime. Even if you don't experience violent crime at night, the police will be curious about why a tourist is wandering alone on the streets and you may be subjected to questioning.
The city is one of the poorest in the country. In June 2018, the unemployment rate was 9.8%, compared to 4.7% for the state, and in 2015, over 30% of households were living in poverty, compared to 10% for the state.
The historic, large city of Philadelphia is right across the river from Camden. Just take the Ben Franklin bridge or the PATCO high-speed line to get into Philadelphia.
|Routes through Camden|
|Harrisburg ← Philadelphia ←||W E||→ becomes → Runnemede → Atlantic City|
|Lancaster ← Philadelphia ←||W E||→ Pennsauken → Jct E → Atlantic City|
|END ← Philadelphia ←||NW SE||→ Collingswood → Lindenwold|
|END ←||SW NE||→ Pennsauken → Trenton|