Kayaking in NYC: Downtown Boathouse & More NYC Kayaking

Pier 40 at end of Houston Street offers free kayaking in NYC.

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve taken advantage of the excellent, still-going-strong free kayaking in NYC program, courtesy of the non-profit, all-volunteer organization, the Downtown Boathouse. But two years is too long! So we’re getting back in the paddle sometime soon, maybe even this weekend if the weather holds…

Because although the water in the Hudson River isn’t, for example, swim-ably clean (for us), and you definitely always get your butt wet with these self-bailing kayaks, still, we’ve always had a lot of fun taking one of these babies out for a quick paddle. It makes for a great date idea (except for the wet butt part), or as a summer outing with the kids, or just something different to do right after work with your buddies before drinks. Or you can be really adventurous and go on one of the free, three-hour kayak tours!

Boathouse at Pier 40 is one of the locations with free kayaking in Manhattan.

Downtown Boathouse: Free Kayaking in NYC

Anyway, here’s how free NYC kayaking, the Downtown Boathouse way, works. There are three Downtown Boathouse locations, only one of which is actually downtown (near Glenwood’s apartments in Manhattan) : Pier 40, which is at end of Houston Street; Pier 96, at the end 56th Street; and 72nd Street, at the end, obviously, of 72nd Street. Each location offers walk-up free kayaking, no reservations, first-come, first-served,  from now through mid-September or so, weather permitting. At Pier 96 and Pier 40 there are lockers, changing rooms, and even showers; 72nd Street only offers lockers (though you can use the bathrooms at the nearby Boat Basin Cafe to change. Plus: get a decent cheeseburger and an even more decent beer or two). Pier 96 offers evening paddles every weekday, Pier 40 has a weekday evening paddle every Thursday, 72nd Street is only open on weekends.

Kayakers launching from Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse.

Even More Kayaking in NYC

Of course, the Downtown Boathouse isn’t the only place to kayak the Hudson River. On the other side of the Hudson, the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse (above) will launch you for free. Brooklyn’s Red Hook Boaters also has free kayaking, at Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park (near Fairway! and Ikea! and several decent restaurants, like the Good Fork!). And, of course, there are several kayak rental spots that will gladly take your money in exchange for some Hudson River paddling; Manhattan Kayak in Chelsea, for example, charges $40 for 75 minutes of daytime adventuring.

Downtown Boathouse Details

For all the information you need about all three Downtown Boathouse locations–hours, facilities, special events, lessons, and excursions, etc.–please see the Downtown Boathouse free kayaking website.

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