From the Water's Edge

Looking for a new, family-friendly way to take in some of the States' best cities? Introducing urban kayaking.
Chicago Skyline
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT: Chicago, a perfect candidate for urban kayaking (Corbis)

As with most outdoor activities, it's a good idea to get kids hooked while they're young, and kayaking is no exception. While a full weekend on the river might be a bit much for budding paddlers, you could hit the water during your family's next visit to a major metropolis. Increasingly, outfitters are springing up in cities with rivers running through them, and many of them welcome kayakers ranging in age from newborns to octogenarians. But whatever the age, you'll relish in the utterly unique perspective afforded by exploring urban environs from the water rather than the street, tour bus, or the latest motorized trend (Segway/bike/amphibious vehicle...).

First, let's put any potential fears to rest: For family excursions, stable touring kayaks are typically used and capsizing is rare, generally occurring only when getting in or out of the boat. A good guide company will offer instruction whether you rent your own kayak or join a tour. And while tours pass working vessels in some cities, outfitters know the safest routes. Dress as you would for just about any water-based outdoor activity: layered clothing that dries quickly, sandals or other water-friendly shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

Once you're snug inside your kayak and personal floatation device, dip your paddle into the water and glide past…skyscrapers? Barges? Briefcase-toting pedestrians? Consider taking one of these atypical journeys through five of America's favorite cities.

Published: 15 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 24 Jan 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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