Rent a Kayak
Non–boat owners, you’re in luck: Kayaks are already waiting for you in riverfront parks via Paddle Share. Just head to paddleshare.org and choose from five one-way routes. (Want to see skyline views or nature? Craving a longer route or just an hour’s paddle?) Pay online—$20 to $35 for a single—and when your rez date comes, head to your starting park to pick up a kayak. Then hit the river and paddle to your end-destination park.
Row the Boat!
Incorporated in 1938 and rowing out of its boathouse location on West River Parkway just below the Lake Street Bridge since 1965, the Minneapolis Rowing Club offers opportunities for anybody looking to get into competitive or social rowing. The Minnesota Boat Club has been housed in its Mission Revival–style boathouse on Raspberry Island, just across from downtown St. Paul, since it was founded in 1870. Membership is surprisingly affordable.
Hail a (Water) Taxi
OK, you can’t exactly head to the river flats and toss your arm in the air—you’ll need to reserve the Minneapolis Water Taxi ahead of time. Book a one-hour cruise departing Boom Island and tour around the Northeast Minneapolis area of the river for skyline and other views you can only get from the water. (Tip: We like the Sunset and City Lights evening cruises for a glittery look at Minneapolis.) mplswatertaxi.com
Take a Cruise
Take a sightseeing, lunch, dinner, sunset, or margarita (!) tour with local legend Padelford Riverboats (established in 1969, riverrides.com), departing from Harriet Island, or check out Paradise Charter Cruises’s (twincitiescruises.com) Minneapolis Queen, which launches daily at Bohemian Flats Park in the summer (with Taco Tuesdays dinner cruises) and most days in the fall. Both offer a variety of options and narrated tours.
Paddle a Canoe
Do you have your own canoe? There are around two dozen officially designated boat landings and carry-in canoe access points in the Twin Cities’ stretch of the Miss (visit dnr.state.mn.us for a map), so you have plenty of options. (Do your research about navigating locks and dams ahead of time.) If you’d rather paddle with others, Wilderness Inquiry offers guided canoe trips, usually leaving from Harriet Island in slightly-larger-than-usual canoes (each holds six to nine paddlers, plus a captain) a few times each summer. wildernessinquiry.org