6 Fall Water Activities in New York

canoe in the fall

When you think fall, you think curling leaves, bundled layers, crisp mountain hikes, sweet trips to the apple orchard, savory candlelit meals out with friends. Consider mixing things up this season with six summery water activities in New York—like kayaking, swimming, and surfing—you don’t have to let go of come fall.

Don’t forget to bring all necessary gear for water activities, like swimwear, including good water shoes, a sun-shielding hat, paddling gloves, a dry bag for personal items, a signaling whistle, a headlamp, and more. 

1. Leaf Peeping Paddler

Ride Metro North one hour north of Manhattan to Cold Spring, where Hudson Valley Expeditions facilitates a spectacular kayaking experience on the Hudson River. Paddle out on your own to places like Foundry Cove or Bannerman Castle, and enjoy the serene beauty. Don’t forget to capture those precious moments with a good video camera. You can also try a Fall Foliage West Point/Garrison tour or Yoga/Kayak Tour. Single kayaks rent for $25/hour and up to $65/four hours or take out a tandem recreational boat for $35/hour or $75/four hours. (845.265.0221)

New York Kayak Company at Pier 40 on the Hudson is a quick and easy way to get on the water for beginners or experts. There is a lot to learn about NY waterways so each participant must start off with the two-hour Fundamentals 1 to learn basic safety techniques of kayaking, offered Saturday and Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights ($100).

Then sign up online for your next adventure from a hefty list of options, including kayaking trips for all levels, race training, morning and sunset kayaks ($50). All classes are offered at 6pm during the week to accommodate work schedules and mornings on the weekends. Bundle up and paddle out. (212.924.1327)

2. Wake Up On the Shore

The next best thing to waking up on the water is waking up right next to it. The offseason is the best time of year to visit Fire Island, where the Appalachian Mountain Club has a darling rustic Atlantique Cabin with a little sandy path leading guests right to the ocean.

Kayaks and canoes are one of the most fun water activities, and they’re available for free if you want to explore the Great South Bay. Come fall, you’ll have the beaches and Sunken Forest trails almost all to yourself. (outdoors.org, from $40/weekday or $160/two weekend nights with meals and a hammock)

3. Stand Up

Hop on the A train and head east to 60th Street in Rockaway, walk inland to Marina 59, where SUP New York City is based. Try a two-hour beginner lesson ($105), rent a board ($30/hour, $90/day), or even try yoga on the water. The leaders can often be found firing up the grill at the marina post paddle, and a grounded boat serves as a bar. Visit the website for more information. Reservations are required. (supnewyorkcity.com, 917.902.7793). NY Kayak Company also offers Stand Up Paddleboard rentals, lessons, and race training at $100 for a two-hour beginner SUP class.

4. Surf the Best Season

This is probably one of my favorite water activities. Avid urban surfers like to tow their boards on the LIRR to Long Beach, Long Island. Beginners, mindful of the local surf etiquette, can rent a board at unsOund surf shop. (516.889.1112) For fewer crowds, pick an early morning and take the A train from Manhattan directly to 67th Street (about 1.5 hours) in Rockaway.

Walk a couple of blocks from the station to the sand and hop in. If you need to rent a board, stop by Boarders, just a short walk from the 91st Street subway stop. (718.318.7997). It’s a trek out to either beach, so make sure to check the waves before you go.

5. Jump In, the Water’s Hot

When there’s no time to get out to the beach, sometimes a pool will do. Most public pools have closed for the season, so unless you have a friend with a rooftop Jacuzzi, you might have to retreat to a hotel. Wear your bathing suit on the L train to Bedford Ave. and McCarren Hotel & Pool for a dip in a warm outdoor saltwater pool. Non-hotel guests can enjoy the pool on select days for free until September 21. On weekends, non-guests must pay $35; the fee includes a lounge chair, towel, wifi, and poolside food and beverage service—we recommend The Bedford Daisy. (718.218.7500)

6. Ferry Away

The East River Ferry is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get you into some water activities. It will zigzag you across the river between Manhattan and DUMBO, stretching from 34th St Manhattan to Governor’s Island—until September 30. Why not bring some wine and cheese on board, catch the cool breeze off the water, and get the best view of the skyline? Bring a bike for added adventure. (nywaterway.com, $4/one way) For more river rides in NYC, read this story.

About the author
Annie McBride, once a prideful Jersey girl, has moved into Brooklyn and fallen in love with the graffitied walls, tattoed artisans, juxtaposition of the crumbling and the new, and the limitless adventures that Brooklyn offers. She’s created surf blog NYC Urchin for the city dwellers that gravitate toward water and she looks forward to sharing water-based events with the Manhattan crowd.

Photos: Steve Schnabelham and fleas, Amanda Coen, hollyladd