When you think of kayaking, you might picture paddling in a serene lake or out on the ocean, but you might not consider a route closer to the city center. Often overlooked, urban kayaking is an incredible way to get outdoors and get active, while seeing a city in a new way. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite urban kayaking spots from around the country—from Portland to New York, you need to see these cities from the water.
Probably best known among outdoor adventurers for its bike-friendly vibe, Portland is also a prime spot for paddling. The Willamette River that cuts right through the center of the city is just about as good as it gets when it comes to urban kayaking and there are several outfitters that sell and rent kayaks. Check out Portland Kayak Company for their scenic sunset tour that’s open to all skill levels.
From Lake Michigan to the Chicago River, this city has no shortage of water trails or great outfitters. Paddlers can’t go wrong with Kayak Chicago, which offers tours on both the lake and river, and even features a fireworks paddle to see the light show at Navy Pier.
Dip your paddle into the Roanoke River to experience a perfect combination of glittering buildings and untouched nature. The winding river is a perfect way to see the city, but it’s also a great escape. There are a few outfitters nearby, but Roanoke Mountain Adventures offers an awesome staff, guided trips, great prices and is located right on the river.
Almost surrounded by water, the city of Miami is a classic gateway for water sports like jet skiing, sailing and, of course, kayaking. Paddlers can traverse Biscayne Bay, the Oleta River (which is protected within a state park) or the Coral Gables Waterway, among others. Miami is home to several outfitters and South Beach Kayak has a great reputation, especially when it comes to new paddlers.
New York, N.Y.
The Big Apple is known for a great many things, but water sports don’t typically make the list. Although other aspects of this big city may have overshadowed the waterways surrounding it, they’re still certainly worth checking out. Paddlers can take in the excitement from either the Hudson or East River, both of which are typically bustling with activity—or they can head to the Bronx River for a less crowded experience. There are several outfitters and even opportunities to get out on the water for free, if you get there early.
Another city that offers both river routes and a wide-open lake, you’ve got to see Cleveland from the water. Paddle the Cuyahoga River through downtown or spread out on Lake Erie—either way you’ll be able to see the city. Among the many outfitters in the area, 41 North Kayak Adventures is a great option offering rentals, classes and tours.
This infamous off-beat city may not be set on the coast, but there’s still plenty of water for kayakers to traverse. Lady Bird Lake flows through the middle of the city and several outfitters are set on its banks. One popular option is Love Love Paddle, who offers everything from hour-long rentals to overnight tours.