Charles River

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Could there be any better way to explore Boston than from the beautiful and historic Charles River?

Written by

Cody Grodzki


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

3.0 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

1 Hour to Day


Spring, Summer, and Fall

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Land Website

Charles River



Paddling in the heart of Boston? Put in on the famous Charles River and you will surely have a day to remember. With the sights and sounds of Boston on either side of the river, there no question that this river provides paddlers with a unique experience. A huge plus is the river’s calm demeanor, which allows beginners and experienced paddlers alike together to enjoy the adventures that Charles River is sure to provide its suitors.

What Makes It Great

Originating in the town of Hopkinton, the 80 mile long Charles flows northeast through over 20 cities before emptying into the Boston Harbor. Of course, the most famous and iconic stretch of water is that which travels through Cambridge and Boston. Venturing on the Charles offers a variety of opportunities to paddlers in terms of sights to see. From the comfort of your boat, you can check out Boston University, MIT, the Back Bay area, Beacon Hill, and the Esplanade- just to name a few.
Navigating can be a little tricky in the warmer months, as the Charles tends to get busy with other boaters. Not to fear! The Charles River Alliance of Boaters assembled a fantastic waterway traffic pattern document for boaters to brush up on their knowledge.

You can find all of this useful information here

Who is Going to Love It

The beauty of the Charles is its accessibility to over 4.5 million people in the Greater Boston Metropolitan area and the moderate nature of the river allows for each and every one of these people a chance to venture out onto the water- should they choose to, of course! When paired with the Charles River Canoe and Kayak rental outfitter, you don't even have to own your own equipment to enjoy this fantastic outdoor destination! Simply throw on some clothes you don't mind getting wet, grab some snacks, and throw your friend in the boat with you. They’ll thank you for it later.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

If you have your own set up and don't need rentals, consider heading to Magazine Beach in Cambridge for easy access to the Charles and convenient parking.

Getting to the Charles River put in point at Magazine Beach shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, granted of course, that you aren’t traveling during peak traffic hours. From the center of town, get onto Storrow Drive and follow it to the MA-2A North exit. Take a right over the Harvard/ Mass. Ave. Bridge and then take a left to get on to US 3 North. Keep on trucking and Magazine Beach will be up on your left hand side.

Need to be outfitted before your adventure? Check out one of Charles River Canoe and Kayak’s four locations in either Cambridge, Newton, Waltham, or Boston. They offer kayaks, canoes, standup paddle boards, paddle boats, row boats, and even guided tours. Pricing varies based on which boat you choose, as well as hourly or day rates. Call ahead for pricing (617) 965-5110.

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Charles River

Boston, MA,
42.355019, -71.114628

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