IMAGE VIA STEPHANIE KRIST
Boston’s rivers are perfect for kayaking. But we’ve got more than just rivers. There are beautiful lakes and the ocean, too. So there’s no shortage of spots to put in, whether you own your own gear or need to rent.
And while you may think a peaceful paddle will be a walk in the park, kayaking is actually hard work. If that sounds good to you, head to one of these local waterways for a summer adventure you won’t forget.
Chances are if you run or ride next to the Charles River regularly, you’ve seen people sailing and paddling on it, too. There’s a good reason the Charles is so popular with paddlers: It’s super accessible at several points. Right on the Esplanade, you’ll find Community Boating, which can hook you up with a kayak rental in the heart of the city. Or head to Paddle Boston (formerly Charles River Canoe & Kayak), which has four locations on the river. You’ll find them in Cambridge at Kendall Square, in Allston/Brighton, in Newton, and in Waltham, so you have plenty of options for exploration.
Boston’s other river, the Mystic is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Locals have long known that the Mystic is a great place to paddle, and now it’s easier than ever for you to join them. Paddle Boston recently opened a location at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse in Somerville, where you can rent a kayak for a full day of fun. Cruise all seven miles of the Mystic, where you can catch city skyline views and even hop in for a swim.
Of course, we can’t mention Boston’s two main bodies of water without mentioning the other: the ocean! Paddle Boston offers guided Boston Harbor kayak tours where you’ll explore everything from the Charles River Dam locks to the Inner Harbor to the Charlestown Navy Yard, passing under the Zakim Bridge along the way. If you’ve got your own gear, you can put in at the Fort Point Pier, which provides easy access to Boston Harbor for kayakers. And don’t forget about the gorgeous Boston Harbor Islands, which you can kayak out to or explore in a free ranger-led program during the summer (2017 information hasn’t been released yet, but here’s where to check for updated details).
One of our favorite places to hit the beach is also one of the best local spots for kayaking. Sunbathing at Plum Island is a must each summer, but sometimes we like our trip to the North Shore to be a little more active. That’s when we hit up Plum Island Kayak. You can either rent a kayak or take one of their guided tours. If you rent, you can put in right at the Merrimack River or take the kayak with you to explore another local spot, including the ocean!
Just like Lake Cochituate sits right near the Natick Mall, Lake Quannapowitt is right across I-95 from the massive Jordan’s Furniture store. But once you’re on the scenic lake, you’ll feel far from the hustle and bustle of both the city and local shopping centers. Boating in Boston rents kayaks on this Wakefield lake during the summer. After your paddle, put on your running shoes to tackle the 3.5-mile loop that winds around the lake. Consider it a sort of duathlon, and reward yourself at the Richardson’s Ice Cream outpost at Jordan’s.
Head north to Cape Ann to explore the area with Essex River Basin Adventures. The company offers a seemingly endless array of guided tours that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the North Shore. While there’s a lot to choose from, we’re partial to the Sunset Tour and the Moonlight Tour, which allow you to see the area at its most peaceful. Looking for something a little more challenging? Try sea kayaking when you float nearby Crane Beach or explore Choate Island, Misery Island, or Thacher Island.
We’ve told you before how much we love the Middlesex Fells Reservation—it’s one of the best places to hike near Boston. And now there’s another reason to add it to your list of must-visit recreation sites: You can paddle at the reservation’s Spot Pond. Boating in Boston rents kayaks at the pond’s boathouse so you can explore this local lake that’s teeming with natural beauty. Fitt Tip: We suggest paddling out to one of Spot Pond’s three islands for a picnic.
Hopkinton is most known for being the starting point of the Boston Marathon, but it’s also home to an awesome state park. And inside the park is the Hopkinton Reservoir, where Boating in Boston has a boathouse with kayak rentals. This 175-acre, spring-fed lake has three islands for you to explore and two beaches where you can take a dip to cool off on hot summer days. Bring your hiking shoes and a PB&J to make a day of it.
Many of us visit Natick to shop at its epic mall, but the city has a lot more to offer than just a mega-sized shopping center. Start with Cochituate State Park, which is nestled in between busy Natick, Framingham, and Wayland. You’d never know how close you are to civilization once you arrive at Lake Cochituate, where Boating in Boston has a boathouse with kayak rentals. Paddle around this beautiful lake before hopping off for a dip in the water or sunbathing on the sandy shores.
The best Boston sweat spots 💪, healthy eats 🥗, and fitness events 🎟 delivered straight to your inbox.