Kayak down the Charles River

Earlier in the summer, we wrote about the walking trails surrounding the Charles River and the Charles River Esplanade. We highlighted a bunch of fun things you and your family can do—on land. But there are even more attractions that the Charles River has to offer—like all the fun things you and your family can do on the water.

In the summer and fall, kayaking is one of the main activities Boston residents and visitors like to do on the Charles. There are almost always single and double kayaks floating along the river, especially between its two main rental stops near MIT and in Allston/Brighton. Many say this area of the river provides the best views of Boston and Cambridge—paddle closer to downtown and you’ll get a great view of the Boston skyline.

Kayaking is great fun for the entire family—and it’s also a good way to get your daily dose of exercise. Even if you paddle leisurely and enjoy the city views, you’ll still get a good upper body and core workout as you use your arms to glide along the water. If you’re looking for some extra family-friendly competition, challenge each other to a quick race to increase your heart rate and get an even better cardio workout. Luckily, the Charles River has little to no current —just avoid going when the weather is bad or too windy.

If you’re an avid kayaker or just interested in giving it a try, Charles River Canoe & Kayak operates two main rental locations—one by MIT/Kendall Square in Cambridge and another in Allston/Brighton in Boston. Kayaks aren’t free, but they’re affordable. You can rent a kayak by the hour or for the entire day. Hourly rentals are $15 for a single kayak and $20 for a double kayak; daily rentals are $60 for a single kayak and $80 for a double kayak. Kid’s kayaks are also available for $9 an hour or $36 for the entire day. If you’re renting for the entire day, feel free to bring food and non-alcoholic drinks in coolers so you can dock along the share and find a spot to picnic when you need a break from paddling.

If kayaking doesn’t sound fun, or if you want to try something new, we suggest giving stand-up paddleboarding a try! You can rent these at the same location as kayaks. It provides an extra mental and physical challenge—check it out if you want to test your paddling and balancing skills. And if you do end up falling in the river, just think of it as a good way to cool off from the summer heat!

In recent years, the City of Boston has also put in a lot of work to clean up the Charles, making it one of the cleanest urban rivers in the U.S. There’s still some more work to be done though – in fact, the Charles River Conservancy is looking into whether they can build a permanent swimming facility in the Charles. Keep an eye out for updates here.

Whether you kayak or paddleboard, make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. If you aren’t sure how, check out our recent post for quick and easy sunscreen tips to keep you and your family safe in the sun. When you’ve got that down, head down to the river and enjoy a day on the water!


Photo courtesy of Boston Magazine

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