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The Best Kid-Friendly Places to go Water Tubing, Rafting, and Kayaking Within Two Hours of Baltimore

Things to Do Baltimore
Photo Courtesy of Terrapin Adventures Photo Courtesy of Terrapin Adventures

When the summer heat has you beat, pack up the family for some kid-friendly fun on the water! The Baltimore area offers plenty of beautiful waterways to explore, float and race on like the Severn River, Chesapeake Harbor, and more!

Plan a day kayaking, tubing, or rafting for the whole family with these water activities that are great for all ages! Choose between a day of active rafting on white water rapids, a calm day pedal boating on the lake and everything in between. Grab your swimsuits, floaties, goggles, and sunscreen and get ready to enjoy a summer day out in nature. There are plenty of places to rent watercraft in the Baltimore area, and best of all, the making memories part is free!

Check out our list of kid-approved kayaking, tubing, and rafting locations within two hours of Baltimore!

Annapolis Canoe and Kayak on the Severn River
Photo Courtesy of Annapolis Canoe and Kayak

Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland
The Severn River offers plenty of fun recreational water activities from boating and waterskiing, to kayaking and canoeing. The water is the perfect temperature to dive in for swimming in between your boating activities. There are also plenty of community beaches along the shore where you can stop and catch some sun.

You can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards from Annapolis Canoe and Kayak, where you can then set off from the Eastport dock into the Annapolis Harbor and choose which part of the Severn River to explore. Another rental location for paddle boards and kayaks is Bulldog Bikes and Floats where you can choose between taking off on the Severn River or the Magothy River. Each rental comes with a board or kayak, dry bag, and a lifejacket.

When your water adventure is complete, head to Downtown Annapolis near the Annapolis Harbor and treat yourself to some delicious ice cream at Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory and explore all the fun historic landmarks and shops at the Annapolis Harbor.

Big Gunpowder Falls River Tubing
Photo Courtesy of Monkton Bike Rental

Big Gunpowder Falls River in Cockeysville, Maryland
For a relaxing day on the river consider tubing at Big Gunpowder Falls River. The river is cooler with degrees in the 50s and 60s, but perfect for a refreshing dip after a few hours floating. The river is mostly shaded by trees, keeping the hot sun at bay and allowing for a fun outdoor activity without all the summer heat.

You can rent river tubes from Hunt Valley Village L.L.C. where your river tube rental comes with an adventure map! Monkton Bike Rental offers a 1.5-hour or 2.5-hour river tubing trip. If it's your birthday, Monkton Bike Rental will celebrate with you by giving you a free tube rental! Best of all, Sally's Shack Sno-balls are right next door, the perfect treat to the end of an exciting summer day!

Terrapin Adventures Nature Kayak Tour
Photo Courtesy of Terrapin Adventures

Patuxent River in Savage, Maryland
Travel along the Patuxent River for a peaceful day on tree-lined covered calm water. The Patuxent River carries some history as the headquarters of the United States fledgling Navy Flotilla during the war of 1812. There are plenty of historic sites and camping spots along the river, including the Mount Calvert Historical & Archaeological Park.

For a day with some learning hidden in the fun (gotta keep the kids sharp for the upcoming school year!), check out a guided Nature Kayak tour at Terrapin Adventures. This is a great option for kids who aren't ready for the white rapids, parents who don't want to get wet, and for anyone who loves animals and wildlife. Keep your eyes open for different kinds of wildlife like birds, fish, and turtles. Once the tour is over, spend some time at Historic Savage Mill perusing the shops, checking out their fun activities, and enjoying some yummy food!

Centennial Lake in Ellicott City, Maryland
Check out this man-made lake in Ellicott City and take to the water for paddle boating and kayaking. Located within the Centennial Park, Centennial Lake is a great location for families with plenty of fun playgrounds and sporting activities along the way.

Head to Adventure Shack and Rentals to rent a paddle boat or kayak. Kids love paddle boating since it's almost like biking on water. And after a summer of biking, watch out parents, they could beat you in a paddle boat race! Once finished, head back to Adventure Shack for ice cream and snacks, or head over to downtown Ellicott City, only 12-minutes away.

Chesapeake Bay Paddle or Pedal Rentals
Photo Courtesy of Paddle or Pedal

Chesapeake Bay in Middle River and Annapolis, Maryland
If your family prefers the open water, then head to the Chesapeake Bay. Known for being the nation's largest estuary, a place where freshwater and saltwater mix, the Chesapeake Bay offers a multitude of water activities, including pedal boats, kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoes.

You can rent from Ultimate Water Sports for kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoes, plus they also offer a kayaking river tour! Take off from Frog Mortar Creek and head into the Bay. After the water activities, head to Ultimate Water Sports' sandy beach to relax on a lawn chair, enjoy a picnic at their picnic tables, or get ready for some fun in the sun playing volleyball, corn hole, horseshoes, or swinging on the swing set. Paddle or Pedal also offers kayak, canoe, pedal boat, sailboat and stand up paddle board rentals (note, equipment varies by location). For a family challenge, try out their 5-person stand up paddle board for a fun teamwork activity. 

Patapsco River in Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland
Nature lovers and families who prefer the outdoors will enjoy a day on the Patapsco River in the Patapsco Valley State Park. While the park itself doesn't offer rafting rentals, you can rent from Shallow Creek Kayaks, who will deliver your equipment at any launch point in the Northeast Baltimore County area. They also have a launch point in Fort Howard on Shallow Creek that leads to the Patapsco River. When you are finished exploring the river and park, enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic spots with playgrounds.

Harpers Ferry Family-Friendly Rafting DC

Potomac River in McLean, Virginia 
If your family is ready to get soaked and have an exciting time white water rafting or tubing, head to the Potomac River located an hour away from Baltimore.

Spend a day white water rafting on the Potomac River and choose the Family-Friendly Rafting Trip from Calleva Outdoors. On this 4-hour rafting trip your family will learn how to work as a team to overcome the wild water. Once you've made it past a few rapids your guide will lead you to the shore where you can enjoy a deli lunch and enjoy the scenery. Save 50% off for a Four-Hour Family Friendly Rafting Trip for 2-6 Rafters with this CertifiKID deal.

When the trip on the river is over venture to Great Falls Park and explore the trails and watch the white rapid falls or spend some time exploring the National Harbor, ride the carousel, and find some summer treats!

Harpers Ferry in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Make a trip to Harpers Ferry where the Potomac River and Shenandoah River converge to create some wild rapids. Your family will learn how to navigate as a team to beat the white water river.

Rent from Harpers Ferry Adventure Center in Purcellville, Virginia, where you can choose between several rafting and tubing combination packages. Save up to 25% off for an adult or child admission for a whitewater rafting trip at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. 

Once finished on the water, explore all the fun activities at Harper's Ferry Adventure Center like ziplining (save 25% off ziplining with this CertifiKID deal) and a ropes course (save 25% off aerial ropes course with this CertifiKID deal). Plan to spend a whole day here or spend a few days here to get the most out of this family fun adventure center. Save 28% off with this one-night mid-week cabin rental at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center!

For more family-fun this summer in Baltimore check out Things to do in Baltimore with Kids.

Tags: Tubing Rafting Kayaking Paddleboarding Baltimore Area Outdoor Family Fun


 

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