Downcity with a Paddle

It's as easy as going to the mall to replace your teenager's outgrown khakis (again), but a whole lot more fun.

I had planned on going kayaking downtown since Providence Kayak Company opened in May, but between other things going on and too-hot forecasts, I hadn't gotten to it. Yesterday's too-hot forecast was a lie, and it looked like the perfect day for trying the city's newest bit of awesomeness. I texted my friend A and sprung the plan on her. 

The next thing I knew, we were jumping into kayaks and being pushed out into the river. The entire operation is two fabulous young people on a dock, with an umbrella, doing business using just an iPhone. We were life-jacketed, lives-signed-away, and into the Woonasquatucket River in minutes. 

And this is what we saw.

Gondolas (one with a driver singing "Santa Lucia" in Italian, to his passengers);  a tour boat; art;  peregrine falcons, circling and swooping around the tops of the Superman and Textron buildings. Bridges, hanging flowers, a group of ducklings swimming under a bridge. 

I am a city dweller with a shameful lack of knowledge of nature. I didn't even realize that the bottom of the river was so tidal. This is low tide, and the difference is dramatic. 

At mid-tide, kayakers can paddle up the river, underneath the mall, and out of the city's center--but at high tide, the water rises so much that a boat cannot fit under the bridge. 

There is a well-publicized family of peregrine falcons living at the top of the Superman Building (check out the link--you can watch them on in real time!)--but we rarely see them, because we're driving, cycling, hurrying, not looking up. From the river, you can let your kayak idle and just watch them for awhile.



If you have not yet tried this downcity paddle, do it as soon as possible. Go at mid-tide, when the water is higher--so that you can head up the river, into a beautiful surprise, just beyond the mall. 

It is amazing. It is not a big production. It is a RI Summer must-do.


How Do You Get There?

Providence Kayak Company is at 10 Memorial Blvd.

For $2, you can park in the Providence Place Mall garage (which continues to be a clusterf&%K, but do not be daunted) and walk to the stairway near the entrance to the Capital Grille. Or, you can park in Kennedy Plaza and enter the kayak dock from the OLD Capital Grille location, by walking under Memorial Blvd. 

Kayak rentals are $20 for 45 minutes and $30 for 90 minutes. Choice of single or tandem kayaks. Best to reserve ahead of time (online or by phone), as they are regularly selling out. 





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