By Seth Fera-Schanes
Free activity is a phrase that will turn heads in the city. Free summer movies in the park, free wine and beer at a gallery opening and a personal favorite, free kayaking.
If you are in the mood for an outdoor activity, the Downtown Boathouse and Manhattan Community Boathouse operate three piers along the Hudson River and one on Governors Island. The locations come fully equipped with single and double kayaks, life jackets and they even offer lockers to store your personal items such as phone and wallet (free of charge, of course.)
Upon arrival, one of the volunteers working at these piers will ask you two questions. Are you 18 or older? Can you swim? Answer in the affirmative and you will be handed a release form to sign and then can hop right into a boat. It is that simple.
Two suggestions for visiting a boathouse:
Super workout. Go for your regular run or bike ride along the Hudson River. Stop off at one of the boathouses for a 20 minute paddle. Disembark and continue your ride or run. I have done this a few times and it works out really well.
Afternoon date. Go for a quick paddle and then stop off at the Boat Basin (if you are at one of the uptown boathouses) for some lunch and a drink. Just know this is kayaking and you will get a little wet. Let the person know in advance so they can plan their attire accordingly.
Pier at 72nd Street – Located at 72nd street along the Hudson. Season runs from June through September. Open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm.
Pier 96 – Located at 55th street along the Hudson. Season runs from mid-May through mid-October on the weekends and weekdays from June through July. Open from 10am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday and 5pm-7pm during the week. FAN Tip: JBL Live at Pier 97 is right next to the pier so you can take a kayak out and listen to the concert for a bit or once you are done kayaking stop by for the full show.
Pier 26 – Located just north of N. Moore street (downtown.) Season runs from mid-May through mid-October. Open from 9am-5:30pm on Saturday and Sunday and in July and August from 5-6:30pm on weekdays. This location offers free kayaking as well as free classes.
Governors Island – Located on Governors Island at Pier 101. Season runs from June through August. Open from 10:30am-4pm on Saturday.
Note: All kayaking activities are weather permitting.