There’s something magical about getting out on the water, especially on a beautiful day. Thankfully, the Northeast is home to rivers, lakes and other waterways perfect for canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating and simply whiling away lazy summer days out on the water.
We’ll show you where to rent a boat, canoe or kayak in the Northeast and share some our favorite places for local boating trips.
Whether you’re marveling at the sights or traversing rapids, paddling can be a relaxing or thrilling activity. Head out on your own for some quiet time alone in nature or head out with a partner or small group for a memorable day out.
Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, please check AAA.com/TravelCenter and official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
The longest river in the New England region, the Connecticut River is over 400 miles long and stretches out across several states. It is both wide and deep, making it suitable for boats of various speeds and styles. The Connecticut River also features many hidden creeks and coves great for small-boat exploration. There are hundreds of access points along the river, which can be found here.
Then there’s the Farmington River, which stretches diagonally from northwestern Connecticut until it joins the Connecticut River further southeast. This river is great for canoeing, kayaking and tubing.
If rivers aren’t your speed, Connecticut is also home to several lakes – the Fourth, Third, Second and First Connecticut lakes, as well as Lake McDonough – while also boasting plenty of coastal region.
The Concord River runs for about 11 miles and is great for canoeing, kayaking and rafting. You can travel the entire waterway by canoe or kayak, but it’s also conveniently broken into sections: Egg Rock to Carlisle-Bedford Bridge and Carlisle-Bedford Bridge to the Middlesex Canal.
There’s something for every kind of boating fan in Massachusetts. The Boston Harbor Islands offer great views of the Boston skyline. The Massachusetts Office of Fishing and Boating Access maintains 290 access points on coastal waters, great ponds and rivers across the state. See which ramps are open for the season here.
The Ashuelot River, with its five boat landings, is great for both whitewater and leisure paddling, depending on your preference. Both small watercraft and motorboats are allowed in deeper waters while canoes and kayaks are appropriate for rapids.
More white waters can be found in the Contoocook River, though waters are calmer closer to Concord, N.H. Sea kayaking on the Great Bay is also exciting, along with kayaking and canoeing on Lake Umbagog and Squam Lake.
Animal lovers will enjoy Grafton Pond, a 300-acre lake that’s a popular nesting site for loons, along with New Hampshire’s other state parks perfect for boating and nature-gazing. The calm, swimmable waters of the Pemigewasset, or “Pemi,” River are also popular.
Where to rent a boat: There are tons of boat rentals and marinas in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.
Take a canoe, kayak, raft or tube down the Delaware River, a 300-plus mile waterway that stretches along the borders of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The Delaware features a mix of calmer and rougher waters as well as scenic views.
Lake Hopatcong, the state’s largest freshwater lake, is great for boating, kayaking and sailing. Hopatcong State Park is located at the southwest end of the lake, making it a great spot for nature-watching and swimming too.
There are also plenty of ocean boating and sailing opportunities in New Jersey along the coastal side.
Where to rent a boat: Both canoe and kayak rentals are available along the Hackensack River, which begins in New York and stretches out across much of New Jersey. Make a difference on your trip by participating in a river cleanup.
New York has access to many lakes, including the Finger Lakes and two Great Lakes. For busy bodies of water, look into Lake George or any one of the Essex Chain Lakes‘ 18 bodies of water. If you prefer calmer water, there’s Lake Champlain as well as the North-South Lake, where no motorized boats are allowed.
There are also great kayaking opportunities along the Hudson River and Saint Regis Canoe Area. For saltwater sailing and boating, there are plenty for opportunities on the Long Island Sound as well as on the Atlantic Ocean.
Where to rent a boat: Find local boat rentals for the Finger Lakes at Morgan Marine or Stivers Seneca Marine. For Lake George rentals, see here. Find more spots perfect for canoeing and kayaking here.
For saltwater kayaking, there’s Ninigret Pond, a large coastal lagoon, or the scenic Napatree Point and its three small marinas. For calmer waters surrounded by foliage, head to the Upper and Lower Woods Rivers. Paddle route maps to these rivers can be found here.
Paddlers on the historic Blackstone River, which stretches across Massachusetts and Rhode Island, will pass farmlands, forests and the occasional watermill. You can even rent a kayak in downtown Providence and gain a stunning new vantage point of the city’s skyline.
Where is your favorite spot to boat, canoe or kayak? Tell us in the comments below!
Do you own a boat? AAA offers specialized insurance for boats and other recreational vehicles.