On the Water

Elizabeth Kennedy

You don't have to go away to have a summer getaway—you can do it right here in NYC. Catching rays in the park, brunching alfresco and spending your lunch break at the ice cream truck are all beloved pastimes of summer City dwellers, but why not add something new to your warm-weather routine? This weekend, hop on board for some sun and surf. New York City's waterways are more accessible than ever, and the time to get out there is now.

Perfect Your Paddle
Tired of just looking at the water? Then grab a paddle and a life jacket and hop in from Pier 40, Pier 96 or West 72nd Street. Kayaking on the Hudson will feed your appetite for adventure as you explore the river like never before—and get a great workout, to boot! Downtown Boathouse will provide all the necessary gear and the boat; all you need to bring is a bathing suit or shorts and a T-shirt as well as a lock (to keep your stuff in a locker) and your swimming know-how. And the best news: it's completely free. Run by volunteers who can provide lessons if you're a first-timer, kayaking on the Hudson is perfect for both rookie paddlers and full-on experts.

Smooth Sailing
Relaxing with the cool wind in your hair and a sunshiny glow on your face might sound like a scene from a movie (or your standard beach vacation), but that doesn't mean it can't happen in NYC. A sail around New York Harbor on one of Classic Harbor Line's beautiful 80-foot pilot schooners can provide just that. A $40 ticket gets you two hours of stunning views of the City and your choice of beer, soda or water. It's great for a summer date, a family outing or even happy hour. The Schooner Adirondack or Schooner Imagine might just become one of your favorite summer watering holes.

All Aboard!
Organized boat tours around the City come in many varieties, and Circle Line Downtown knows how to give you options. For thrill seekers, Circle Line pulls out all the stops on its most exciting ride yet, the Shark. The 135-passenger speedboat takes guests on a 30-minute cruise complete with music and a tour guide. If you're looking for something more relaxing and want to take in the City like a high roller (without the big price tag), then the Zephyr is for you. The yacht promises a luxurious one-hour cruise with magnificent views, and with its multiple climate-controlled decks, plush seating and mahogany beverage and snack bars, you'll feel like you've hit the big time.

Finally, for one of New York's most iconic boat rides, the Staten Island Ferry is a must. The 25-minute trip across New York Harbor will leave you hard-pressed to find a better view of Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and with more than 100 trips embarking for free every day, you have to take a ride if you haven't already—it's a rite of passage for every New Yorker.