When planning your trip to New York, it’s easy to forget to pack your bathing suit. (After all, not many affordable hotels are blessed with swimming pools.) However, the city’s Downtown Boathouse offers kayak rides in the Hudson River throughout the summer and fall… for free!
The all-volunteer boathouse has been getting New Yorkers (and visitors) into the Hudson for 10 years, and an estimated 250,000 kayak trips have been enjoyed so far. The group provides several programs: kayaking lessons, three-hour kayak adventures up the Hudson, harbor tours, and the popular “walk-up kayaking.”
Free Walk-Up Kayaking
Between May and October each year, the group offers its free walk-up kayaking program. It’s simple: walk up to any of the group’s three boathouses, sign a liability waiver, put on a life jacket, and grab a kayak and paddle. You’re restricted to paddling inside the protected waters surrounding the boathouse (so lay aside your plans to head for Lady Liberty). The staff keeps a watchful eye on the kayakers.
Rules: Anyone who can swim is permitted to kayak. Children between 16-18 years may take a kayak out on their own, if a parent or guardian is present at the boathouse. Children younger than 16 may go out, but must be accompanied by an adult in a double-kayak.
Boathouse locations and hours
The Downtown Boathouse has three locations, each with their own hours:
Pier 40 at Houston Street and the Hudson River — 9 AM to 6 PM, weekends and holidays.
Pier 96 at 56th Street and the Hudson River — 9 AM to 6 PM, weekends and holidays. Also open weekday nights from 5 PM to 7 PM, June 16 through August 29.
72nd Street and the Hudson River — 10 AM to 5 PM, weekends and holidays.
For more information, visit the New York City Downtown Boathouse’s website.