In this article we discuss the top 5 cities to paddle board. Use this list to plan your next SUP adventure in a different kind of environment — the big city!
At Atoll, we love the outdoors. The mountain-scapes, campfires, stars over our heads, it’s just our place to be. But every once in a while we long for the city vibe.
It’s the excitement of opportunity, the energy of a crowd, and the ability to immerse ourselves in culture and art. Because, unlike the serene moments found in nature, the city is often the place where the action is.
However, that doesn’t mean we need to leave our Atoll boards behind. On the contrary. Cities are also fantastic places to explore on the water after walking the streets and taking in the sites.
From the water, you can gain a real feel for the city atmosphere. You can see the place from a unique perspective and you can keep the adventure going on long after you get tired of walking the same streets.
Interested in some little-known cities to explore from atop your Atoll iSUP? Then check out this list to get you started!
5. Meramec River, St. Louis
St. Louis is a bustling city located in the Midwest of the United States. Full of rich history, it is located on the convergence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
If you wanted to paddle on either of these locations we won’t stop you. But keep in mind they are busy waterways full of boat traffic and unpredictable currents.
Instead, we suggest heading a little outside of the city limits and over to the Meramec River where you will still find a challenging paddle but one that is full of interesting historical markers detailing the unique river history of St. Louis that you can stop at along the way.Bonus: If you get hungry after your paddle, head over to T.J. Wings for a fun lunch at a popular wing joint.
4. Toronto Islands, Toronto, Canada
Toronto is one of those cities to paddle board that has plenty of places to pump up and paddle out your Atoll iSUP.
If you’re looking specifically for a peaceful beach setting we recommend checking out Kew Balmy Beach. The sandy shorelines and sheltered water spots make it perfect if you are a beginner in SUP or just want a relaxing afternoon on the water.
But for those who wish for a little slice of adventure and to see the impressive Toronto city skyline from the water, then we definitely suggest you head to Toronto Islands.
These are a meandering set of waterways that have been specifically designated as Environmentally Significant Areas.
Paddling here can be a bit tricky with boat traffic and directions so if you are still a beginner or are uncertain of where to launch your SUP contact Toronto Island SUP with all of your questions.
Once in, check out the immense views of the skyline including the iconic CN Tower.
Remember to bring your phone in a waterproof carrying case to capture pictures while on the water!
3. Puget Sound, Seattle
After your tour of downtown, seeing the sites Seattle has to offer, head over to the Puget Sound, a body of water located just west of downtown.
This wide-open waterway will gift you plenty of views of the city as well as the beautiful mountains surrounding the area.
Just be sure to stay close to the shoreline as this area is known for its heavy boat traffic and wild currents.
If you’re lucky you might be able to spot a pod of orcas — the large black and white whales are known to be swimming in these waters but be careful to maintain your distance.
While the Puget Sound might be a challenging paddle, given the location and the chance to interact with the abundant wildlife Seattle is known for, it is a must-do for the experienced SUP enthusiast. Seattle is an outdoor lover’s dream and is one of the best cities to paddle board in!
2. Hudson River, New York
How could we have a list of big cities to paddle board without including the most iconic city in the United States?
That is, of course, New York, New York. The city so nice they named it twice. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. And…okay, that’s enough.
What makes New York a special place to paddle?
Well, like our previous choices, it’s mostly for the views.
If you want the absolute best place to see the New York city skyline then we recommend launching from the Pier 84 Boathouse and paddle to the confluence of the Hudson River and the Upper Bay.
There you will see the Statue of Liberty from the water, be able to snap some photos if the water is calm enough, and if you choose, head to Surf City Bar for a nice lunch before returning to your launch location.
Of course, just like our previous cities, this is a paddle for the intermediate to the advanced. If you are still in the beginning stages of learning how to SUP we must suggest that you find an easier body of water to paddle before trying to conquer the Hudson. But once you’re ready, it’s definitely worth it!
Directions to Pier 84 Boathouse
1. Chicago River Water Trail
When people think of Chicago, they hardly ever think about SUP. But they should!
Paddling the Chicago River is one of the most interesting ways to see the big Windy City and experience a taste of outdoor adventure in this midwest concrete labyrinth.
The best place to launch is from Kinzie St. Bridge near the East Bank Club. At this location, you are able to walk down a set of stairs with your board and easily dump it into the water.
One word of caution, keep an eye out for the architectural tour boats that are often frequent in this stretch of the river. Make sure you steer clear of them while on the water as the wakes may be big enough to topple you overboard.
With that in mind, head onto the Chicago River for an unforgettable experience paddling the waterways surrounding the great city of Chicago.
Bonus: Check out this map of waterways created specifically for paddlers. And click here for safety tips, recommendations for clothing, what to do in emergency situations, and more! This is one of the best cities to paddle board!
Directions to Chicago River Water Trail
We hope you found some inspiration from this list of big cities that are often overlooked when it comes to exploring them on a SUP. They offer expansive views, interesting skylines, and a fun alternative to spending time in the great outdoors. We do suggest that you research each location before going, and do an honest and adequate assessment of your skills. Safety is always the most important part of SUP – especially when you decide to head into unknown areas. Of course, as always, you can drop us a message if you have any questions or comments. Until next time – adventure on!