The last dregs of winter are officially gone, and sunny days are here to tempt us back to the city’s rivers.
Though it’s still a bit chilly for swimming-- unless you’re a Polar Bear Club member-- there are plenty of other ways to enjoy New York City's waters this season.
Intensive cleanup efforts have made the 23-mile Bronx River a haven, and the Bronx River Alliance leads canoeing and kayaking trips beginning in June through the end of October.
The length and cost of the trips vary, from free to $45.
Liberty State Park really makes that PATH trip worthwhile, with two-hour kayak tours of the Hudson estuary. Paddle within view of the Statue of Liberty while learning about the river’s flora and fauna.
Tours are $20 and run 10 a.m.-noon on select Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June to September. Must be 16+; registration is required.
Taking a row boat out onto the lake in front of the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park has been a tradition for 150 years. Boats hold up to four people (small children allowed) and can be rented for $12 per hour (cash only) from 10 a.m. until sunset. Or take a gondola tour for $45 per half hour.
At Flushing Meadows Corona Park, head to Wheel Fun Rentals at the northern edge of Meadow Lake to get on the water in a solo or two-person kayak ($15/$22), or two- or four-person paddle boat ($20/$30). Rates are hourly, and the last boat rental is two hours before sunset.
It’s possibly the city’s least glamorous waterway, but there are plenty of reasons to explore the Gowanus Canal.
The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club will lend you a vessel for a self-guided tour (they provide the map) along five miles of the canal. There’s a suggested donation of $5 per person; trips are by appointment only. Second Street near Bond Street,
Take the L train all the way to the end of the line to find the Sebago Canoe Club in Canarsie, which offers guided kayaking of Jamaica Bay to the public on Wednesday (5:30 p.m.) and Saturday (9:30 a.m.) beginning May 31 through Sept. 5.
The volunteer-run nonprofit charges $10 to cover insurance fees and doesn’t take reservations, so get there early. Excursions last up to two hours, and guest lecturers do accompany some trips. Must be 16+.
Get a taste of it all
Registration is open for OutdoorFest, a 10-day exploration ( June 10-19) of all the natural wonder in the concrete jungle.
Among its water-going opportunities are a circumnavigating Governors Island by kayak, 101-level classes in paddle boarding, sailing and rowing, and for the hardiest among us, surfing on Rockaway Beach.