We New Yorkers are surrounded by water, constantly going over, under and around it. But most of us — with the exception of many Staten Island commuters, of course — don’t really spend a lot of time on the water. Taking a boat ride, be it big or small, powered by wind, feet, or diesel fuel is a great way to enjoy the city with kids. Here are some of the coolest ways to go boating in NYC, for all kinds of reasons. Click through to see our seafaring picks!

To Paddle in the Rivers: Kayaking or Canoeing

Is a kayak more your family's speed? You can get lessons and a kayak for free at Pier 96 in Hudson River Park or off of 72nd Street in Riverside Park via the Manhattan Community Boathouse, while their sister organization, The Downtown Boathouse offers free lessons and equipment for kayaking outside the parks on the Hudson River from Pier 26 in Chelsea. More park rowing opportunities are available via the Bronx River Alliance and the New York City Parks calendar of events, which includes kayaking from Brooklyn Bridge Park, learning how to paddle a canoe and even birding by canoe in Idlewild.

Note: Many of these events are free or low-cost, but they also usually must be reserved, require being drawn in a lottery or are on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to plan in advance!

Where is your favorite place to explore the seas around the Big Apple?

—Gretchen Kunz