This article on urban destination day trips originally appeared in Adventure Kayak magazine.
Consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world, Vancouver’s oceanside location and outdoor culture make this an ideal place to explore by kayak.
Paddle past the giant cedars and temperate rainforest of Stanley Park, glide below the sweeping expanse of the Lion’s Gate Bridge (and play in the tidal race if your timing and skills are right) or head up the sheltered waters of False Creek—all framed by the beautiful Coastal Mountains.
Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre | www.ecomarine.com
With its busy seaport, lively indie music scene and successful high-tech economy, Seattle is an intriguing city to explore from the water and beyond.
Freshwater Lake Union in the middle of Seattle has sheltered paddling conditions and a close-up view of the skyline. For a more exposed saltwater adventure and encounters with seals, whales and sea lions, the waters of Puget Sound are a paddler’s dream.
Northwest Outdoor Centre | www.nwoc.com
New York City
Overwhelmed by crowds and concrete? Escape to the Hudson River to experience the grandeur of New York City from a more peaceful perspective.
Ambitious kayakers can circumnavigate the entire island of Manhattan in eight hours—be sure to plan for currents and tides. For a more leisurely trip, paddle to the Statue of Liberty, visit Chelsea Piers or venture on a night time paddle to see the city lights.
New York Kayak Company | www.nykayak.com
From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the infamous island of Alcatraz, the San Francisco Bay area has a wealth of prime destinations to explore by water.
Beginners can easily enjoy panoramic views of the Bay from close to shore while more experienced paddlers can tackle the powerful surf, tide races and rock gardens that make this coast famous.
City Kayak | www.citykayak.com
Looking for lighthouses, rocky shores and colorful fishing villages? The paddling paradise of St. Margaret’s Bay offers an archetypal East Coast experience just a 30-minute drive from downtown Halifax.
While popular Peggy’s Cove can be overrun with tourists, exploring the surrounding area by kayak will give you easy access to undisturbed beaches, birding and whale watching.
Sea Sun Kayak | www.paddlenovascotia.com
Follow “the Nation’s River” through Washington D.C. for a new perspective on famous sites such as the dramatic Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.
Be aware that the Potomac River has some sections best suited to whitewater paddlers. For kayakers seeking a longer adventure, head to the vast shallow waters of nearby Chesapeake Bay.
Jack’s Boathouse | www.jacksboathouse.com
Located on an island guarding the St. Lawrence Seaway, Montreal’s vibrant culture, lively nightlife and Old World atmosphere make this city an eternally popular destination among travelers.
From the calm waters of the Lachine Canal, you can paddle past historic buildings and stop at the Atwater Market to browse the distracting array of delicious wares. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, join local river surfers on the powerful standing wave by Habitat 67.
H2O Adventures | www.h2oadventures.ca
Vamos a la playa! Kayak past the sun-drenched beaches of Miami to experience the buzzing beach culture and ocean side skyline.
Kayaking the sheltered canals and harbors will let you marvel at Miami’s super yachts and tropical vegetation, while paddling on the Atlantic side offers rolling surf and possible encounters with manatees, dolphins and stingrays.
South Beach Kayak | www.southbeachkayak.com
Famous for its jazz culture, wild nightlife and historic architecture, New Orleans is the undisputed jewel of the sprawling Mississippi delta. Classic cypress swamps and veils of Spanish moss await visitors who explore this region by kayak.
Visit downtown New Orleans by taking a guided kayak tour along historic St. John Bayou. For more open conditions, visit the estuary of Lake Pontchartrain, one of the largest wetlands in North America.
Kayakitiyat Outfitters | www.kayakitiyat.com
Despite being the fourth largest urban center in the U.S., Houston’s elaborate network of rivers, lakes and bayous make this city popular among paddlers.
Paddling along Buffalo Bayou will bring you straight to the heart of the city, while dozens of other bayous or lakes such as 1,200-acre Sheldon Reservoir offer great bird watching and alligator spotting opportunities.
Houston Association of Sea Kayakers | www.hask.org
Kayaking beneath the towering skyline of Chicago gives you a unique perspective of the city’s world renowned architecture and will help you build up an appetite for the Windy City’s famous deep-dish pizza.
For a close-up view of the city, follow the canals and branches of the Chicago River, most notably the downtown Chicago Loop. Head out onto Lake Michigan for more exposed conditions and sweeping views of the cityscape.
Kayak Chicago | www.kayakchicago.com
Skip the long terrestrial line-ups for the CN Tower—a paddle along the Toronto waterfront will give you an incomparable view of this tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere.
The Toronto Islands offer numerous sheltered channels to explore by kayak, while Lake Ontario has fun surf when the wind cooperates. Beyond diverse paddling opportunities, the Toronto Islands also have an amusement park, cafes, outdoor art displays and beaches.
Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre | www.paddletoronto.com