offers a natural
way to see the
cities of America
A great way to
sightsee in many
U.S. cities is from
a boat’s-eye view.
By Felisa Billet
IF YOU WANT to experience the thrill of
exploring a new city, cancel the bus tour and
head to the water. Many of America’s great
metropolises feature waterways perfect for
tourists and locals who want to discover the city
from a new perspective. Kayaking in urban
locales proves that you don’t have to leave the
city’s limits to have great outdoor fun.
Kayakers travel a 5-mile stretch down the
Charles River to downtown Boston and
Cambridge, basking in views of the unforgettable Boston skyline, while paddling from
Allston-Brighton to Kendall Square.
Landmarks along the way include the
Harvard and MIT campuses, the Esplanade
and the Hatch Shell, famous for spectacular
Fourth of July concerts. As kayakers reach
downtown Boston, they are rewarded by scenic
views of Beacon Hill, the North End, Bunker
Hill in Charlestown and the dramatic Zakim
Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge.
“Kayaking or canoeing is the best way to
see the city,” says Mark Jacobson, manager of
Charles River Canoe & Kayak (
boston.com). “The city can be crowded, but out
on the river, there’s a lot more space for you to
take it all in.”
tunity to view Chicago at sunset and after dark,
culminating in a spectacular fireworks display
on Lake Michigan.
Guided kayak tours launch from various
locations on the riverfront and Lake Michigan.
The Chicago River offers a long, winding, cur-rentless excursion in the heart of the city, while
dynamic, endlessly moving Lake Michigan features a panoramic view of the city.
On Wednesday and Saturday nights, twilight kayak tours to Navy Pier offer the oppor-
Perfect for beginners, the Allegheny River
has little commercial traffic and flows alongside
After departing from under the Sixth
Street Bridge on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, kayakers can follow the Allegheny north or south.
With the downtown skyline as a backdrop,
kayakers pass PNC Park and Heinz Field,
home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers,
respectively, and float under many of the city’s
Downstream, kayakers reach the Point.
Marked by a beautiful fountain, a state park and
a breathtaking view of the city, it’s where
Pittsburgh’s three rivers, the Allegheny, the
Monongahela and the Ohio, converge.
“We get a lot of tourists who kayak because
they want to see the city from a different vantage point,” says Alyson Walls, marketing coordinator for Venture Outdoors, a local nonprofit
provider of recreational programs, whose
Kayak Pittsburgh project (www.kayakpitts
burgh.org) rents kayaks and leads tours on the
Kayaking in San Francisco Bay offers
adventure for everyone.
Beginners can launch from the calm waters
of South Beach Harbor and paddle past AT&T
Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and
known for “splash hits,” home run baseballs
that soar out of the park and into McCovey
Cove, where kayakers paddle around the stadium during games, hoping for a lucky catch
(see one such story on page 108).
After passing through the cove and under
the Lefty O’Doul drawbridge, the water trail
passes through a houseboat community in
“San Francisco is a crazy, beautiful
place,” says Ted Choi, a Costco mem-
ber and owner of City Kayak ( www.
citykayak.com). “People love to come
here and soak everything up. There’s
no better way to do that than from a
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses and Costco.com carry a
variety of products for water explorations,
including kayaks, canoes, accessories and
personal flotation devices.
Felisa Billet is a freelancer writer from Hollywood, Florida.
Tips for first-time kayakers
• Never kayak alone. Always go with
a group or a guide.
• Always take an orientation course,
offered by most rental facilities, which
should show you how to get in and
out of a kayak while in the water, and
properly use the paddle.
• Dress appropriately. Instead of cotton,
which keeps a person cold when wet,
wear clothes made from wool, silk or
CHRIS A RUSNAK
• Bring proper safety gear: a personal
flotation device, a pump to rid the
cockpit of water, a spare paddle, a
tow rope and a compass or GPS.—FB