Try the Aqua Trike at Pedals and Paddles in Seaside Heights for something new. Photo courtesy the venue
Try the Aqua Trike at Pedals and Paddles in Seaside Heights for something new. Photo courtesy the venue

Hit the Water with Paddleboat, Canoe, and Kayak Rentals in New Jersey

Looking for a great summer outing that’ll float the family’s boat? A ride in a paddleboat (sometimes called a pedal boat), kayak, canoe, or rowboat offers panoramic views of New Jersey's scenic parks and lakes, plus an opportunity for family time that may actually be peaceful.

Paddleboat and kayak rentals are available throughout the state. Check the specific paddling locations for any age or weight restrictions, then sit back and enjoy the ride. (And don't forget the sunscreen!)

Feeling more adventurous? Find the best places for tubing and rafting in and around NJ.

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Cranford Canoe Club – Cranford

This pretty spot on the Rahway River offers 2-hour canoe or kayak rentals to families and an adorable rubber ducky race. There is an age requirement—6 for canoe rentals and 3 for kayaks—at this NJ boat rental spot and coveted tandem kayaks for parents and kids to enjoy together. A concession stand serves hot dogs, ice cream, drinks, and snacks.

Colonial Park – Somerset

There’s so much to do in this busy, well-maintained park, including a recently renovated playground, flourishing gardens, fishing, a putt-putt course, a dog area, and paddleboating on Powder Mill Pond. Paddleboats are rented for $15 for a half-hour, and for those with disabilities, hand-operated pedals are an option. The almost-square-mile park has so much to offer, so pack a picnic lunch and explore.

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Ride a swan at Asbury Park Pedal Boats
Pick a swan, dragon, pelican, or flamingo at Asbury Park Pedal Boats.

Asbury Park Pedal Boats – Asbury Park

Wesley Lake offers not only swans but also dragons, pelicans, and flamingos. A boat costs $20 for a half-hour and can accommodate two adults and one child or one adult with two children. Other options are available for larger groups. Asbury Park is open for paddleboating from 11am to dusk every day, and no reservations are required. The lake is conveniently located minutes from the beach and boardwalk, so make a day of it.

Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rentals – Princeton

If you're day-tripping to Princeton to enjoy the pretty New Jersey college town or the popular nearby Terhune Orchards, it's worth throwing in a sail down the D&R Canal or into a pretty lake with Princeton Canoe and Kayak. Choose from either type of boat. Prices start at $20/hour for kayaks and $21/hour for canoes. There are no age restrictions, and kids can ride in the canoe with parents. Masks are required.

Mercer County Park – West Windsor

The scenic marina in this sprawling park features paddling, kayaking, row boating, and fishing on Lake Mercer. Paddleboat and rowboats rentals are $16 an hour, and two-person kayaks are available for $18-20 an hour. You can also see the lake’s sites from the pontoon boat tour, which lasts 50 minutes for a fee of $10 for adult Mercer County residents and $8 for seniors and children under age 11. Surrounding the lake are tons of park activities, including walking trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, a snack bar, and special events throughout the summer.

RELATED: The Best Lakes for Swimming With Kids in New Jersey


The paddleboats are just one part of the fun at Sunrise Lake!

Lewis Morris Park – Morris Township

This expansive 1,000+ acre park is home to Sunrise Lake, where you’ll find all kinds of water adventures. Visitors can swim, sail, or play on a crazy inflatable obstacle course known as a Wibit. (Wibit explorers must be over age 7 and pass a swimming test.) Paddleboats can be enjoyed by all family members at the cost of $5 for a two-person boat or $7 for a four-person boat. See the website for lake activity and beach access fees. In addition to water recreation, visit the park’s picnic areas, walking paths, a dog park, equestrian trails, and the colorful Saturn Playground.

Monmouth County Parks Boat Rental – Various locations

Monmouth County offers several spots to get out and enjoy the summer weather on the water, including the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell, Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold, and Thompson Park in Lincroft. Prices vary by location; visit the website for details.

Pedals and Paddles – Seaside Heights

The calm waters of Barnegat Bay are the perfect place for a family adventure. In addition to paddleboats, you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or incredibly cool-looking Aqua Trikes. Rentals start at $15/half hour and go up from there depending on your vessel.

Red Bank Marina – Red Bank

With fantastic views and several watercraft options to enjoy, a visit to the Red Bank Marina on the Navesink River is a great way to beat the summer heat! Choose from kayaks, rowboats, and stand-up paddleboards. Motorboats and pontoon rentals are also available. Crabbing traps and nets available for rent or purchase along with bait.

RELATED: 35+ Splash Pads and Spraygrounds in New Jersey

Cruise on a swan boat at the South Mountain Recreation Complex
Ride or relax by the water and watch the action at the South Mountain Recreation Complex.

South Mountain Recreation Complex – West Orange

I used to envy Bostonians who were able to ride awesome boats shaped like swans. Now swan boats have found their way to Northern New Jersey right by Turtle Back Zoo. Paddleboats are available for a half-hour at $17 for a two-person boat or $21 for a four-person boat, with discounts for Orange residents. After touring the banks of the Orange Reservoir, stop by the zoo or mini-golf course for a full day of fun.

Resilience Paddle Sports – Hoboken

Head to Pier 13 in Hoboken for a tour, lesson, or another adventure in the harbor with Resilience Paddle Sports. It has kayaks and paddleboards and offers teen-specific programs, as well as family-friendly events and happenings.

Row Your Boat – Newton

Located in Swartswood State Park, Row Your Boat offers rowboats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and more watercraft rentals at various price points.

Scotland Run Park – Clayton

Wilson Lake offers pretty vistas and an array of floating snails and turtles sunning on logs. FREE canoes and kayaks are available at the Scotland Run Park beach from 9am-3pm on weekends through Sunday, September 5. Boats are available on a first-come, first-served basis and children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Masks are required while checking in, and they ask that you practice social distancing from others not in your group. There are also trails, a playground, and a newly renovated nature center to explore when you're done in the water.

RELATED: Best Swimming Lakes in New Jersey for Families in 2021

Swan boats at Verona Park
The swan paddleboats at Verona Park are ready to go. Photo by Mommy Poppins.

Verona Park – Verona

With its beautiful scenery, lush landscaping, and tranquil lake, Verona Park is one of my favorite New Jersey spots to spend outdoor time (and take pictures). Check out the park from all angles, from the paddleboats (two or four seats) and rowboats on the 13-acre lake at the center of the park. Boat rentals are available for $15 a half hour or $20 for an hour. The park also features walking paths, a children’s garden, tennis courts, a playground, and a boathouse with a snack bar.

Warinanco Park – Elizabeth/Roselle

Like Union County’s own version of Central Park (and designed by the same firm), Warinanco Park boasts flower gardens, walking paths, a playground, a sprayground, fields, and a pond for paddling. Observe the park’s vibrant backdrop from the paddleboats, which cost $10 to rent for an hour.

Echo Lake Park – Mountainside

You’ll see a lot of green when you visit this tree-lined oasis in Union County, which houses a pond for both fishing and boating. Take in the park’s views from the paddleboats for a fee of $10/hour. Plan to spend some time at the park, which is also complete with a snack bar, shady playground, walking paths, and a popular dog park. In the summer, Echo Lake hosts FREE weekly concerts.

Call or visit each park's website before heading out to confirm hours and rules before heading out.

Photos courtesy of the venues.

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