Sometimes the best way to see a city is upside-down, reflected on the rippling surface of a river or ocean. For those who find joy and calm in observing a city from a watery, muted distance, Boston's many boating options may be a relief to itching sea legs.
Peppered with a variety of vessels — from publicly leased sailboats to the Harvard crew rowing in tandem on any fair-weathered day — the Charles River is alive with the seafaring spirit. The riverside Esplanade offers a free public launching dock, and Boston Harbor provides the thrill of open waters. Boston Community Boating works hard to ensure that the nautical activities stay afloat for visitors and locals by providing lessons, training, new instructors, and "minimizing economic and physical obstacles to sailing." Usually best in the spring and summer, all boating opportunities cater to various levels of experience and comfort.
Recommended Boating Excursions
Boston Duck Tours: You don't need know the difference between "aft" and "ahoy" to enjoy the timelessness of maritime activity. If you want to venture out into open water but don't fully trust yourself at the helm, try the iconic Boston Duck Tours. One of the first of its kind in the U.S., the tour provides commentary while visiting Boston's historic downtown and popular landmarks in a WWII-era amphibious landing vehicle. When you reach the Charles River, your "conDUCKtor" literally drives straight into the river, providing a thrilling way to set sail. This family-friendly activity will educate, entertain, and delight crewmembers of all ages. Ability to quack required.
- Location: Multiple ticket booths at various locations, tours embark by the Prudential Center—800 Boylston St., Boston, MA
- Phone: 800-301-3239
- Website: www.bostonducktours.com
Gondola De Venizia: If you prefer a private, romantic experience, Boston Gondola Tours helps recall Venetian waterways and moonlight serenades. The gondolas, built and shipped from Venice, Italy, provide smooth-as-glass movement and irresistible coziness down the waterway connecting the hearts of Boston and Cambridge. Boston Gondola tours does not provide drinks but does encourage you to bring wine or champagne along for your special ride and will provide glasses, ice, ice bucket, and a corkscrew for your convenience. Numerous packages are available, including options with an accordion player, roses, or chocolates. Stay cozy and unfettered while soaking in the atmosphere.
- Location: The Esplanade, "Just look for the green, white, and golden gondola poles and you've found us!"
- Phone: 800-979-3370
- Website: www.bostongondolas.com
Charles River Canoe and Kayak: Are you eager for an adventure and confident enough to take steering into your own hands? Paddle your way between two iconic skylines as you canoe and kayak on the Charles River. The river has no current, so you will not be worn out on the round-trip, or you can choose a one-way trip from Boston to Cambridge. Weekly barbeque tours are available, and brief training/safety instructions are included.
- Location: Five rental locations available, consult website
- Phone: 617-462-2513
- Website: www.paddleboston.com
Boston Harbor Cruises: Take a spin on the fast, environmentally-friendly, custom whale-watch vessels of Boston Harbor Cruises. These ships provide comfort and leisure, are climate controlled, and offer free wireless internet, food for purchase, and a smooth ride. They can carry up to 400 passengers, but three stories of outdoor balconies provide optimal viewing for all.
- Location: Boston Harbor Cruises, One Long Warf, Boston, MA
- Phone: 877-733-9425
- Website: www.bostonharborcruises.com
- The Boston Harbor, known as the surprise location for the world's biggest tea party, is still happy to play host to boaters staying in the area. Visit www.bostonboating.com to view a list of marinas in Boston, as well as other helpful information.
- • The Navigator Club: www.thenavigatorclub.com
- • Union Boat Club: www.unionboatclub.org
- • Boston Harbor Sailing Club: www.bostonharborsailing.com
- General Information:
- • Boston Boating: www.bostonboating.com