Don’t Miss the Boat: 5 Water Adventures for the Whole Family

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Our bridge-filled city is constructed around rivers and lakes, enjoy them from a different point of view on these five fantastic water excursions. From leisurely paddle boats to speedy jet-powered adventures, your family is sure to find and experience that floats their boat and ignites their imaginations! Read on to for five of the best boat rides our fair city has to offer.

photo: Seth V. via Yelp

Portland Boat Tours
There’s something for every sailor with Portland Boat Tours. Choose from a bridge tour, eco-tour, history tour, or a sunset cruise with Captain Seth Vore. This well-seasoned captain gets rave reviews for being professional, accommodating, and for helping you have a whale of a time. Portland Boat Tours’ excursions are almost all 75 minutes, and kids under 12 are always free. Ask Captain Seth how they got their start—it’s a great story!

Most trips depart from Willamette Park Dock at SW Macadam Ave & Nebraska St., Portland


photo: Jen K. via Yelp

Portland Spirit
From Portland cruises to explorer boat tours and Columbia Gorge cruises there’s something for every adventurer at Portland Spirit.  The website is easy to navigate to see what tour is best for you and your family. The Portland city tour is a great one to start off with at reasonable pricing and a shorter ride for new sailors. During the holidays, keep an eye out for the popular Cinnamon Bear cruises.

Prices vary by cruise starting at around $20/child and $30/adult
Most trips depart from the dock at Salmon Street Springs Fountain in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland

photo: courtesy of Portland Kayak

Portland Kayak
Whether you have experience kayaking or are new to the paddle Portland Kayak’s beginners tours are great for you. The Ross Island tour paddles around the island, then heads to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Keep your eyes open for a bald eagle or two. There are also sunset and full moon paddles available, reservations are required so plan ahead! Contact the company if you have questions about your little paddlers’ abilities, but kids as young as six can join an adult in a double kayak.

6600 SW Macadam Ave., Portland

photo: Ernesto G. via Yelp

Willamette Jetboat Excursions
Have you ever seen that flash of blue cruising along the river? Well now you can be a part of it! Choose from one hour to three-hour tours to get your fill of fun with Willamette Jet boat Excursions. Take a short tour of Bridetown’s famous bridges, or take longer tour along the Columbia that includes a scenic stop for lunch. Our favorite trip takes boaters to Willamette Falls in Oregon City. If you park in the OMSI lot, make sure to pay inside before you go on your tour. Kids three and under are free.

Free – $55 depending on tour and age
1945 SE Water Ave., Portland

photo: Melissa G. via Yelp

Blue Lake Regional Park
Turn a day at the park into a day on the water. Close to town and through Labor Day (and on nice weather weekends) your family can rent paddle boats, rowboats or canoes at Blue Lake. The rest of the year, you can launch your own private boat, with some restrictions. Blue Lake is popular, so expect some traffic to get in on weekends, and follow the instructions on the website rather than your GPS. (We may have learned that the hard way.)

Parking fee $5 without parks pass
$10-$15/hour cash only, call ahead for hours
21224 NE Blue Lake Rd.

Have a memorable boat tour to tell us about? Comment below and we’ll check it out!

—Kris Wilhelmy