Fun Places to Kayak in US: American Liquid Road Trips

Kayaking is one of my favorite outdoor activities and nearly any place with water is a convenient place to kayak. Check out these fun places to kayak in US—a couple of which really surprised me—and let me know about your favorite kayaking spots.

Chesapeake Bay Kayaking, Virginia’s Eastern Shore

The Chesapeake Bay is USA’s largest estuary and second largest in the world (after only the Gulf of St. Lawrence River in Canada). Kayaking the countless Chesapeake waterways is a splendid way to immerse yourself in a vibrant and essential ecosystem. Shannon Alexander is an expert in coastal zone management, has kayaked all over the world, and operates Chesapeake Bay kayak tours with Bay Country Kayaking. Our Virginia Eastern Shore #LiquidRoadTrip explored Chesconessex Creek near Onancock in Accomack County.

kayaking in Chesapeake Bay Virginia Eastern Shore
kayaking in Chesapeake Bay Virginia Eastern Shore

Kayaking in Delaware

Many people think of Delaware as a section of I-95 during road trips between New York City and Florida. I wrote an article a few years ago about Surprising Delaware and a few months ago I spent another week there. Two fun kayaking excursions introduced me to some of the beautiful nature of Sussex county in Southern Delaware. Located within a two hour drive from Baltimore and Philadelphia, Southern Delaware is a peaceful, tranquil, and fun getaway from the big city. Plus, there are some sensational places to eat in Delaware.

One day we kayaked on Broad Creek with Delmarva Board Sport Adventures.

kayaking on Broad Creek, Delaware. Photo by Julie of FuninFairfaxVA.com
kayaking on Broad Creek, Delaware. Photo by Julie of FuninFairfaxVA.com

The second day we kayaked on the Nanticoke River with Adrenaline High Kayak Tours.

kayaking on Nanticoke River, Delaware. Photo by Julie of FuninFairfaxVA.com
kayaking on Nanticoke River, Delaware. Photo by Julie of FuninFairfaxVA.com

While I biked around Trap Pond State Park and did two pontoon boat tours, I would love to return there and kayak around the pond. Trap Pond has a kayak trail through the cypress forest, the northernmost appearance of bald cypress in the United States.

kayaking in Trap Pond State Park, Delaware
kayaking in Trap Pond State Park, Delaware

Sea Rim State Park, Port Arthur, Texas

Drive past an otherworldly Mad Max scene of oil refineries to find the remote Sea Rim State Park in Port Arthur Texas. Sea Rim has 5 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline but the 4,000 acres of marsh has nearly 10 miles of kayaking trails. Along the easiest trail we saw a couple of small alligators. The water depth is very shallow and we even got stuck in the first pond turnaround spot.

kayaking at Sea Rim State Park in Port Arthur, Texas
kayaking at Sea Rim State Park in Port Arthur, Texas

Later, we encountered (from afar) a gator sunning across a boardwalk hiking trail. We turned around. Good time to grab some lunch at one of the fun places to eat in Port Arthur.

Kayak the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Kayaking the Wolf River in Coastal Mississippi was thrilling, especially because it was during a lightning storm. Wolf River Canoe & Kayak provides kayaks and canoes, transports you a few miles up river, and lets you float, row, or paddle back to the starting point at your own pace. It is a unique and exciting adventure that is an easy day trip from New Orleans. I brought a collection of yummy goodies from Serious Bread in Bay St. Louis while another couple brought a whole cooler for their #LiquidRoadTrip adventure. McCool Travel tip: bring drinks and snacks and look for petrified wood along the river banks.

kayaking on Wolf River in Coastal Miaaiaaippi #SecretCoast
kayaking on Wolf River in Coastal Mississippi #SecretCoast

Another option is to kayak in Ocean Springs. Amanda at Paddles Up will set you up with an independent, guided, or group kayak adventure from Ocean Springs Harbor. On a chilly December morning, I explored Ocean Springs Bayou for 45 minutes, seeing a few dozen pelicans among the shrimp boats, before I turned around at Inner Harbor Park. On warmer days, head out of the harbor into Biloxi Bay and maybe even to Deer Island. See also our Complete Guide to Kayaking in Mississippi on the Gulf Coast.

#BigShrimpin on a kayak in Ocean Springs, Coastal Mississippi
#BigShrimpin on a kayak in Ocean Springs Coastal Mississippi

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Seeing dolphins playing in the water in front of us while putting on our life jackets let us know this would be a fun kayaking trip. WildNative Tours guided us around the Bon Secour river and Oyster Bay in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We did not see dolphins while kayaking but our guide showed us hidden estuaries, taught us local history and nature lessons, and we got close to pelicans and other sea birds.

kayak on Bon Secour river, Gulf Shores, Alabama
kayak on Bon Secour river, Gulf Shores, Alabama

Charlotte, North Carolina

Not only can you kayak at the U.S. National Whitewater Center but you can also whitewater raft, ride zip lines, traverse ropes courses, mountain bike, hike, rock climb, and more. A single day activity pass is only $59, providing access to all of those activities. That is an incredible deal! Because of the consistent Class III whitewater, USNWC states “kayakers should be able to perform a reliable combat roll.

kayaking at USNWC in Charlotte, NC. Photo by Julie of FuninFairfaxVA.com
kayaking at USNWC in Charlotte, NC. Photo by Julie of FuninFairfaxVA.com

After working and playing hard, satisfy your hunger at these places to eat in Charlotte.

Fun Florida Kayaking Adventures

Staying at relaxed luxury resorts is not the only thing to do in Amelia Island Florida. Kayaking through gorgeous, natural Florida in Lofton Creek with Amelia Island Kayak Excursions is a lovely mild adventure. This is the kind of highway traffic I love to see on road trips!

kayak in Lofton Creek, Amelia Island, Florida
kayak in Lofton Creek, Amelia Island, Florida

Instead of kayaking several days to the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands area of the Everglades, try a boat assisted tour with Everglades Area Tours in Chokoloskee. The power boat does the work of getting you to the fun stuff and then you spend your quality time exploring.

Florida kayaking with Everglades Area Tours
Florida kayaking with Everglades Area Tours #ParadiseCoast

Palouse River, Washington

With UnCruise Adventures, we kayaked on the Palouse River in southeastern Washington. It is a gorgeous area of the USA that many visitors do not see. Look for majestic bald eagles and other predatory birds and enjoy a lot of open space.

Palouse River kayak with UnCruise. Photo by Julie McCool
Palouse River kayak with UnCruise. Photo by Julie McCool

Kayaking in Wisconsin

Being on a kayak at dusk on Kiwanis Pond in Janesville Wisconsin is a nice experience. Seeing the Rotary Botanical Gardens from the water is a different perspective and provides amble photo opportunities.

Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, WI, from a kayak
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, WI, from a kayak. Photo by Julie McCool.

Nearby in Beloit, try guided kayak tours on the Rock River with Paddle Adventure Club.

For more ideas, please see Fun Things to Do in Janesville Wisconsin.

Do you have suggestions for other places to kayak in US?

Fun Places to Kayak in US was originally published on 12 May 2017 for McCool Travel

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18 thoughts on “Fun Places to Kayak in US: American Liquid Road Trips”

  1. I’m a big fan of kayaking and would love to have the opportunity to try it at Amelia Island. The Charles River in Boston is one to add to the list. When the weather is warm it’s a gorgeous spot!

    Reply
  2. I love kayaking, and this list is great. Of course it would be even better with some secret river and lake places to add to the list:) I’m biased. Have you kayaked each of these places?

    Reply
  3. Two of our favorite places to Kayak are out west on the Colorado River: Lake Havasu & Lake Powell. The scenery is amazing, and you really get peace and solitude in the more remote sections. Just take plenty of sunscreen. 😉

    Reply
  4. Great list but wait!!! You didn’t add DC! Ok the Potomac is a little nasty but it’s still fun to kayak with a view of the monuments!

    Reply
  5. Great post and topic! I’ve only been kayaking once with my wife and in-laws but had an awesome time on the Lehigh River in PA. My father-in-law would probably have tons of suggestions in that area but the Lehigh is good for beginners like me. My cousin also raves about rivers in SC but I don’t know any specific places off hand. Thanks for sharing this, Charles!

    Reply

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