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Boat Rental Rundown: Locations, Tips and More!

I can canoe! Can you? If not, don’t worry, there are plenty of spots for beginners and the seasoned sailors too in this handy guide to boat rentals.

I once heard a quote that said “There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who want to buy a boat and those who want to sell a boat.” That leads me to believe owning a boat comes with certain challenges that make you want to sell it only minutes after you’ve purchased it. Honestly, I am never going to know for sure because I have absolutely no intention of purchasing a watercraft–motorized or person-powered–in my lifetime (sorry, kids).


Plus, I would argue there is, in fact, a third type of person in this world: Those who are smart to avoid the commitment of ownership and simply rent a boat. Grab your sunscreen, pack a lunch and channel your inner Gilligan, it’s time to have a boating adventure.

Hidden River Outfitters

Operating from the Manayunk Brewery Dock and at Schuylkill Banks (under the Walnut Street Bridge)


Rental Info: If you are looking for a paddling tour that includes basic instruction, this is the one for you. They offer kayak and canoe tours of Philadelphia as seen from the Schuylkill River. If you are into breweries, reserve your spot in a kayak, or stand up paddle board, tour that starts and finishes at the Manayunk Brewery.

Good to Know: Unlike the other listings, children must be at least eight years old to go on one of these trips.

Schuylkill Banks Kayak Tours

2401 Walnut Street, Suite 603, Philadelphia


Rental Info: Offering kayak tours of the Schuylkill river, patrons can expect a half-hour of instruction and a one-hour guided tour.

Good to Know: You’ll want to plan ahead because tours are only offered on select Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Wheel Fun Rentals

FDR Park, 1500 Pattison Ave., Philadelphia


Rental Info: With not one, but two lakes, this is a great spot if you live in the city and don’t have transportation to some of the more remote boat rental spots. Situated inside FDR Park, this company, in conjunction with the city, offers single and double pedal boats and kayaks. The watercraft are rented on an hourly basis.

Good to Know: Since you will probably only be out on the water for an hour, make sure you do some research to learn about all that’s going on in FDR Park on the day you visit. Aside from regular community celebrations, there’s golf, a skate park, picnic areas, fishing, biking, and walking.

Paddle Penn’s Landing 

Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd. Philadelphia


Rental Info: Here’s your chance to paddle around the Delaware River Basin in pedal boats disguised as swans (or, if you’re lucky, a dragon). If you’re more into straight-laced boating, you can rent a kayak or a rowboat. Rentals are offered in half-hour time increments. If you are interested in a longer, more structured tour, complete with instruction, they offer kayak excursions throughout the summer.

Good to Know: Patrons receive a discount to the Independence Seaport Museum as well as the Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna–both historic ships next to the museum.

Bartram’s Garden

5400 Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia


Rental Info: Located on an eight-mile stretch on the lower Schuylkill River, this gem offers visitors the chance to use a rowboat or kayak for free on Saturdays. For families that have a deeper interest in the ecology of the river, they can join in the monthly Tidal Kayak Tour.

Good to Know: Make it a water-themed day and borrow one of the many fishing equipment bundles–also free–and try to nab a big one.


For more boating fun, and rental options, head over to MainLineParent.com.


Photograph by Sarah L. Bender.

Main Line Assistant Editor