Westchester County boasts plenty of pools and spray parks to keep kids and adults splashing their way through the sticky summer months. But for New York families seeking a more active outdoor adventure, paddling down one of the state's many natural local waterways can't be beat for a little more summer—or spring or fall—water fun.
Novices can take guided tours or lessons offered by kayak companies, and children as young as three can help power a paddleboat with some of that energy they never seem to burn off. More adventurous paddlers can take on half-day tours of the Hudson River and its aquatic ecosystems or conquer something new—stand-up paddleboarding.
Read on: We've got seven nearby spots where you can flex those rowing arms with canoeing, kayaking, paddleboating and rowboats.
Canoe, Kayak or Paddleboard Rentals and Tours
Hudson River Expeditions - Peekskill and Cold Spring
Operating out of Annsville Creek Paddlesport Center in Peekskill, Hudson River Expeditions is a one-stop boating rental outfit where you can find canoes, kayaks and paddleboards seven days a week. Kids must be at least 30 pounds and 3 years old to participate. Ages 13 and up can take to the water in their own kayak or canoe. For more boating fun further north, check out its location in Cold Spring. Annsville Creek also has a launch site for car-top watercraft.
Hudson River Recreation - Croton-on-Hudson
Operating primarily out of Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, Hudson River Recreation is dedicated to introducing newcomers to kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Working in partnership with 1% For the Planet and Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, Hudson River Recreation promotes an appreciation of the Hudson River with a cool family-friendly vibe. Children as young as 8 are welcome to participate in most group tours; younger children may be able to participate in lessons and private group activities. Some tours and lessons also operate out of Sleepy Hollow.
Mountain Valley Guides - Hastings-on-Hudson
Just steps from the MetroNorth station, Mountain Valley is easily accessible from both New York City and Westchester County. Once there you can paddle below the 550-foot rock face of the Palisades, watch the sunset over the cliffs or explore Peanut Falls on a guided tour with Mountain Valley Guides. This group also offers "kids only" kayak sessions during the summer for ages 9-14, as well as "family kayak" trips for those starting at age 8 from the Cornwall-on-Hudson location.
Rowboats and Paddleboats
Many state and local parks in Westchester County (and just beyond) have rowboats, paddleboats and other small watercraft available for short term rentals for a small, park sustaining fee. These are usually a great way to introduce little ones to on-water sports without investing a whole lot of time and money into the experience.
Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park - Yorktown Heights
Rent a rowboat or paddleboat by the half hour or day from mid-June to Labor Day and enjoy the beauty and serenity of Lake Mohansic and Crom Pond. Each boat holds four people (children included). After your water tour, lace up your sneakers and hit the trail. There are plenty of family friendly hiking trails to choose from at this state park that's just 40 miles from NYC.
Wampus Pond - Armonk
Try the rowboat rentals at this natural pond on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Pack a lunch, so you can take an afternoon break at the picnic grounds. Boats can be rented by the hour or by the day. Wampus Pond is open to all; no Park Pass required. Return in the winter for the ice skating!
Bear Mountain State Park - Bear Mountain
Paddleboats rent by the hour from June through October on Hessian Lake in Bear Mountain State Park. It's just a short trip over the Bear Mountain Bridge from Northern Westchester, and suddenly you'll be enjoying a pretty view from your very own small watercraft. Not bad.
Fahnestock State Park - Carmel
Like Bear Mountain, Fahnestock is located a short drive outside of Westchester County, but is well worth the trip. Rowboats are available for rental by the hour, but day rates and weekly/seasonal boating passes can be purchased as well. Stillwater and Canopus Lakes both provide beautiful scenery and some pretty active fishing for those who venture up to this state park. If your family tires of boating, try the swimming beach and concessions at Canopus Beach.
Looking to launch your own car-top watercraft? Public access launch sites are available at many Westchester County parks and other points throughout the county.
For more boating information and safety tips, click here.
Originally published May 2014.