The Manhattan Community Boathouse at Pier 96 (W56th Street) has reopened after being shuttered by the pandemic in 2020. The non-profit offers free kayaking on the Hudson River (although donations are always welcome).

The boathouse is volunteer-run and their goal is to provide New Yorkers with free access to on-water recreation.

Post-pandemic, they are now operating by reservation only to prevent overcrowding. You can book your visit up to two weeks in advance on their website at

The Boathouse has been in soft launch during June, but from this July 4th weekend will be open every Saturday & Sunday from noon-6pm throughout the summer.

“While donations are not required to participate in our programming, they are our only source of funding and what allows us to continue to provide this great service for the community,” said boathouse volunteer Catie Savage.

It’s a popular afternoon out for many of our readers. Shkumbin ‘Bini’ Mustafa and Charlie Todd both recommended the boathouse in their recent West Side Stories.

For updates and alerts, the Hell’s Kitchen boathouse is on Instagram & Twitter at @kayakmcbh.

If you get the bug for kayaking, there are courses and longer excursions on offer at Manhattan Kayak Co just down the river at Pier 84 (W44th Street). You also have the option there to try standup paddleboarding. Prices vary.

Finally, if you’re not feeling energetic, but want a free trip on the river — from tomorrow, you can hop on a NY Waterway ferry from the Pier 79/Midtown Terminal at W39th Street and sail to Red Hook. The new service will run on weekends for the rest of the summer — and it won’t cost you a cent, thanks to IKEA.

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