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Canoeing on the Charles
 

What to Bring

Sneakers   Snacks
Hat   Sunglasses
Watch   Compass
Binoculars   Sunscreen
Water  

Plastic bags for
valuables

 

Specs

  Directions by car
  From Boston, take Storrow Drive west
  After passing Harvard Business School and Harvard Stadium on the left, bear left on Soldiers Field Road
  Park at first or second parking lot on the right
  Directions by train
 

Take outbound red line (direction Alewife) to Harvard station

  Take bus # 71 or #73 from the underground Harvard bus station to Mt. Auburn Hospital
  Walk back past the neighboring 1010 high-rise building to the Charles river and walk along Memorial Drive on your right
  At the traffic lights on your right, cross Memorial Drive and take Eliot bridge
  At end of bridge, take the trails on your left to walk down to the river bank
  Take left under the bridge and walk for 0.1 mile to the kiosk
  Good to know in advance
  Open May 4–October 14 except on rainy days
  Hours: Fri 1 pm to 30 minutes before sunset, weekends & holidays 10 am to 30 minutes before sunset
  To check hours in rainy weather, call (617) 462-2513
  Driver's license/ID required
  Paddle and PFD provided
  Etiquette
  Do not harass wildlife (ducks, geese, tortoises, birds) on and along the Charles
  Do not trample vegetation if you land on the river banks
 
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Canoeing
on the Charles

ID Card

Overall rating: Three-StarRating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 2/5
  Time from Boston: 15 mins.
  Duration: A few hours
  Cost:

$11 per hour per canoe

  Main activity:

Paddling and families

  What do our ratings mean?
 
Park your car, walk for 50 yards, rent your canoe, and head off on the river! A great downtown adventure that will startle adults and kids alike.

If you live in or around Boston, this is certainly a most convenient and rewarding spot for paddling.

Canoes are a great way to explore the Charles with family and friends: all canoes can take two adults, and many families add an extra kid per canoe in between. You do not need any particular instruction to go out on the water: if this is your first time, you may feel uncomfortable climbing down in the seemingly unstable canoe, but after a few seconds you will be more at ease and eager to start.

When signing up for a canoe, you will get basic instructions on the key rules to obey while on the water. This instruction is in the form of a few written questions – do not worry: everybody passes the exam. Ask if you don’t know the answer!

The friendly staff that runs the operation will answer all your questions and help you with your canoe if this is your first time on the water.

The rental kiosk is conveniently located on the Charles: downstream, towards Boston, are Cambridge and Harvard Square – a great opportunity to paddle under the picturesque Weeks Bridge and see the city from an unusual perspective. Upstream is the wilder part of the river, with narrower portions and a greener landscape. Immediately around the kiosk (particularly on the opposite bank) are shady areas with low branches under which kids invariably want to paddle.
Our suggestion is to rent your canoe for two or three hours: long enough to fully enjoy the experience, and short enough to avoid cramps and pain in the hands and arms.
When taking off, remember that paddling can become tiring, so make sure you have ample time to come back to the kiosk, and paddle slowly!
You can combine this paddling experience with a picnic lunch or barbecue on the grass along the river. You may also bring your bike and take advantage of the bike routes and trails on both sides of the river for a full day out in the sun.
 
 
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