Boating in Boston: Escape the city and enjoy a day on the water.

For all its excitement, attractions and non-stop activity, city life – especially in a major one like Boston – can be, well, a lot. For a mood-boosting break and a fresh perspective on the city we love, locals have the perfect solution: become a river rat, at least for a few peaceful hours. And why not? With three main rivers cutting through town, it’s almost mandatory.

We recommend visitors spend some time on our rivers, too. It’s one of the best ways to relax and recharge while seeing Boston in ways most tourists never do. It’s the perfect way to get out of town without ever leaving town; and you don’t need to be Huck Finn to navigate the options – just a few tips, and the right hotel to dock at. 

The Charles, Mystic, and Neponset rivers all run through Boston, but the Charles is the largest and most well-known. When you stay at guest of Newbury Guest House in Back Bay Boston, you'll be in walking distance of its banks. 

One of the most popular spots for boating the Charles is the Esplanade, a three-mile park that runs along the riverbank. And whether your float of choice is a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, there are multiple rental options available. You’ll also find plenty of picnic areas and walking trails, making it even easier and more enjoyable to spend a day on the river. 

Just a few of the sights you’ll see: 

  • Scores of runners, cyclists and walkers enjoying one of the U.S.’ most beautiful public parks.
  • Boston’s skyline and historic landmarks on one side, and scenic Cambridge on the other; go at sunset for the most magical views.
  • Hatch Memorial Shell, one of the city's preeminent examples of 1930s Art Deco architecture. The outdoor concert venue hosts regular performances, so plan for a picnic and a concert after you disembark.
  • Storrow Lagoon – paddle into this pleasure boating area and pass under the four graceful arched bridges that span it.

You can rent kayaks, canoes, and SUPs from one of the many shops along the Esplanade. Two within easy distance of Newbury Guest House are Community Boating ($45 for the day) and Paddle Boston ($16-$22 per hour). Be sure to check their websites for hours of operation, which vary by season. 

If you prefer sailing as a spectator sport, we recommend the Basin, a small inlet on the Charles 

just west of the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. It’s a favorite spot for sailboats and home to the Boston Sailing Center. Grab a blanket and some provisions and take the quick stroll from Newbury Guest House to the Basin and watch the sailboats – and your thoughts – drift by. It’s meditation, Boston-style.

Though farther afield, the Mystic River is another great spot for boating. North of the city, it flows through numerous parks and nature reserves, offering a peaceful escape. The Neponset River in eastern Massachusetts meanders through wetlands, where lucky boaters might spot muskrats, river otters, painted turtles, and great blue herons. Paddle Boston operates equipment rentals on both the Mystic and the Neponset.

When you stay at Newbury Guest House in the heart of Boston's Back Bay, you’re steps away from some of the Boston’s most popular boating spots, and our staff is happy to provide directions and rental information to make getting out on the water as easy floating downstream.