10 Places to Kayak for Free in New York City

A group of kayakers around the Statue of Liberty in New York City at sunset.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Get your water shoes on and kayak the city’s most famous waterways for FREE!  Not only is it an adventure to check off your bucket list, but it also cools you down from the city’s insane heat, teaches a new skill, gets you outside, and did we mention that it costs nothing? Below we’ve rounded up the best places to kayak in all five boroughs. Happy paddling!

A row of docked bright yellow Ocean Kayaks at Downtown Boathouse in New York City.

Photo Credit: Downtown Boathouse Facebook

Manhattan

The Downtown Boathouse: Located at Pier 26 on Huberts Street and West Street, The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking throughout the summer at a number of NYC locations. Boats can be borrowed for 20 minute intervals and can be used again if others aren’t waiting.

Inwood Canoe Club: Located just north of Dyckman Street on Manhattan’s west side, The Inwood Canoe Club has been a resource for the NYC paddling community for over 100 years. On Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the group welcomes the public for guided 20 minute tours of the Hudson River. To cover the insurance associated with your visit, the club charges $4 for one day, or $15 for a season’s worth of kayaking.

A group of kayakers under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on a sunny day.

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse Facebook

Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse: Located between Piers 1 and 2, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse is conveniently situated in the newly redeveloped, and strikingly beautiful, Brooklyn Bridge Park. On Saturdays and alternating Thursdays, the folks at BBPB offer free 30 minute kayaking sessions in the semi-protected waters along the Brooklyn Waterfront.

Red Hook Boaters: Located in Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park in Red Hook, the Red Hook Boaters offers free 20 minute kayaking trips beginning early June, in exchange for a bit of beach cleanup afterwards.

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Roosevelt Island – Just a Tram Away!

What's between the East Side of Manhattan and Brooklyn? Roosevelt Island, of course! This is the perfect spot to relax between the hustle and bustle of the city, so hop on the tram and let's get going!

Sebago Canoe Club: Located on Avenue N and Paerdegat Avenue North, the Sebago Canoe Club offers hour long kayak and canoe tours on select Saturdays and Wednesdays during the summer. The insurance for the trip is $10, but that gets you a guided tour of the estuary of Jamaica Bay by an experienced member.

The Gowanus Dredgers: Located on 2nd Street in Red Hook, The Gowanus Dredgers have spearheaded many projects aimed at making the NYC waterfront safer and more accessible. They have introduced hundreds of paddlers to free canoeing and kayaking during their open Estuary Stewardship Days on select Saturdays and Sundays from May through November.  Before or after, or on your voyage 20 minute voyage, you are asked that you join in the canal cleanup efforts, removing trash that has washed ashore.

North Brooklyn Boat Club: Located on Newtown Creek between Ash Street and McGuinness Boulevard, the North Brooklyn Boat Club offers an expansive series of events, workshops, open paddles and educational programing throughout the season.  The free kayaking takes place on varied Saturdays throughout the season, and promises beautiful views of Manhattan (length of the free trip is not mentioned on their website, FYI).  Kids and pets welcome!

An instructor teaching a class of kayakers at Long Island City Community Boathouse.

Photo Credit: Long Island City Community Boathouse Facebook

Queens

LIC Community Boathouse: Located on Hallets Cove (31st Street and Vernon Avenue), the LIC Community Boathouse offers free walkup kayaking on select Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season, lasting 20 minutes with the option to extend if there’s no additional people waiting for a boat.

A man and women in an orange kayak from Kayak Staten Island on a sunny day.

Photo Credit: Kayak Staten Island Facebook

Staten Island

Kayak Staten Island: Located on South Beach, just beyond the northernmost end of the expansive Boardwalk, Kayak Staten Island is the perfect place for free kayaking on Staten Island.  It operates on alternating Saturdays and Sundays from 12-3pm throughout the summer, and tours last 15 minutes.

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Neighborhood – Riverdale

Riverdale is one of the largest New York City neighborhoods, leading some to call it a “mini-borough” - and with good reason. Explore this cultured area as you search for your next upscale apartment with Glenwood!

Various Boroughs 

Urban Park Rangers: Spanning various boroughs of NYC, the Urban Park Rangers’s free canoe and kayaking events have built somewhat of a cult following for urban enthusiasts throughout the city. Their offerings run the gamut of Basic Canoeing to the advanced Hudson River Canoe Adventure, and the rangers of the program succeed at making access to NYC’s waterways accessible regardless of age or skill level.

Where’s your favorite place to kayak in and around the city? Let’s talk on Facebook and Twitter!

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