How to make waves in the Detroit area this summer, even if you don't own your own ride

Jul 3, 2019 at 1:00 am
Kayaking in Milford.
Kayaking in Milford. Barbara Kalbfleisch /

Rent a boat

Riverside Kayak Connection

4016 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte; 734-285-2925;

If you're looking for a fun way to enjoy Belle Isle or the Detroit River, Flynn Memorial Pavilion has an array of rental options, including canoes, pontoon pedalboats, solo kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards that can be rented by the hour. Bicycles for two or four people are also available.

Kensington MetroParks

4570 Huron River Pkwy., Milford; 810-227-8910;

There are both swan- and rubber ducky-shaped pedal boats available for rent here. 'Nuff said.

Detroit River Sports

Algonquin Park Dr., Detroit; 313-908-0484;

Detroit River Sports offers an expert experience in stand-up paddleboard or kayak tours around the Detroit River. Tour group sizes vary, but customers who want a more intimate tour can reserve a private tour online.

Skip's Huron River Canoe Livery

3902 E. Delhi Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-769-8686;

More of a night owl? Not a problem at Skip's. This year they're featuring glow-in-the-dark canoeing. They offer canoe and tube rentals located in Delhi Metropolitan Park. In addition, they offer tubing along the Huron River, also new this year.

That's WasSUP

141 E. Walled Lake Dr., Walled Lake; 248-345-3223;

Whether you're an experienced paddleboarder or a first time rider, all can agree this stand-up paddleboard shop has a great name. You can also do yoga here, truly a win-win situation.

Simple Adventures

31300 Metropolitan Pkwy., Harrison Twp.; 844-935-2925;

Simple Adventures offers kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and bike rentals. Additionally, classes and private lessons are offered with certified kayak and paddleboard instructors.

Game On Paddleboarding

2433 W. Predmore Rd. Oakland Charter Township; 248-690-6241;

Game On Paddleboarding offers paddleboard yoga, group tours, and more. For people unfamiliar with paddleboarding, they also offer lessons for people of all ages.

Great Lake Surf Shop

23517 Nine Mack Dr., St. Clair Shores; 586-359-6951;

In addition to rentals, Great Lakes Surf Shop offers wetsuits, paddle-boards, accessories, and anything else you may need for a summer of fun in the water. The shop also participates in races for people looking for a little competition with their paddleboarding.

Clinton River Canoe and Kayak

37328 Utica Rd., Sterling Heights; 248-421-3445;

Clinton River Canoe and Kayak is the perfect outdoor adventure for families or thrill-seekers. The river offers class II or III rapids for serious adventurers or more family-friendly tours.

Argo Park/Cascades

1055 Longshore Dr., Ann Arbor; 734-794-6241;

The Argo Park Livery offers kayak, canoe, paddleboard, tubes, and other rentals to enjoy the water. The park hosts various water trails of varying distances and allows families with their own tubes to bring them and enjoy a float down the river.

Detroit Outpost

11000 Freud St., Detroit; 313-422-3618;

The Motor City is Kayak City. Detroit Outpost offers two-hour kayak trips. Bonus: they also host weekend barbecues by Bert's.

Stony Creek Metropark

4300 Main Park Rd., Shelby Township; 586-781-4242;

The park hosts an abundance of outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, and boat rentals of all kinds. The park also offers a campground for people trying to get a taste of "up north" down here in southeast Michigan.

EZ Kayak River

208 N. Bridge St. Linden; 810-241-1195;

Located on the banks of the beautiful Shiawassee River, EZ Kayak and Canoe Rental offers all kinds of trips up or down the river. Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, this weekend adventure is the perfect getaway from the city.

Independence Oaks County Park

10089 Sashabaw Rd. Clarkston; 248-625-0877;

Boat rentals are available at the Independence Oaks County Park, as well as paddleboat, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, among others. As the largest Oakland County Park at 1,286 acres, it's an ideal spot for a weekend escape or after-work wind-down.

Lake St. Clair Metropark

31300 Metro Pkwy., Harrison Charter Twp.; 586-463-4581;

Lake St.Clair Metropark is a 770-acre unit located 20 miles northeast of downtown Detroit. Enjoy a 1,600-foot boardwalk, or a variety of activities such as boating, bird-watching, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and bicycling.

Addison Oaks County Park

1480 W Romeo Rd., Leonard; 248-693-2432;

Open year-round (and only closed on Christmas Day), this multi-purpose park provides archery, boat, canoe, and kayak rentals, disc golf, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, hiking trails. and more.

Seven Lakes State Park

14390 Fish Lake Road, Holly; 248-634-7271;

Located in Oakland County, this public recreation area is a combination of farmland, rolling hills, and forests, accompanied by a 230-acre body of water used for swimming, fishing, and boat rentals. Visitors can also have picnics or hit the hiking trail.

Willow Metropark

23200 S. Huron Rd., New Boston; 734-697-9181;

You can rent boats to enjoy Willow Metropark's 17-acre Washago Pond and the Huron River.

Boat rides

Detroit Sails

601 Port Dr., Detroit; 313-574-5684;

Detroit Sails offers a sailing experience for groups of up to four people. Guests may bring their own booze on the trip and enjoy the relaxing and luxurious sailboat or yacht ride. Trips last two hours, and guests are asked to bring their own ice. You can book your trip online.

Diamond Jack's

1340 Atwater St., Detroit; 313-843-9376;

Diamond Jack's River Tours offers sightseeing tours of the Detroit River four days a week.

Detroit Princess

1 Civic Center Dr, Detroit; 877-338-2628;

Somewhat of a household name for metro Detroiters who have seen its many TV commercials and advertisements over the years, the Detroit Princess has been docked on the shores of Hart Plaza for 15 years. There are cruises available multiple times a week, as well as the option for hosting private events.

Infinity Ovation Yacht Charters

24400 Jefferson Ave, St. Clair Shores; 586-778-9060;

Infinity Ovation is known for its highbrow excursions with custom-built modern yacht tours of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. The summer series offers themed boat rides, such as the '60s and New Orleans. The company is also known for its wedding and corporate event packages. Boats can be boarded throughout Detroit with planning, though they call Jefferson Marina home.

Ducky Baby Charters

28821 East River Rd., Grosse Ile; 734-546-6000;

Captain Julie leads this boat cruise on the Detroit River. Groups of up to six are encouraged to hop aboard for this fun family experience, and young kids, welcome. Guests have the option to take a stand-up paddleboard out on the water from the boat, though there is no swimming from the boat. The dock is located on the southeast island of Grosse Ile.

Boat events

Jobbie Nooner

The last Friday of June; Gull Island, Lake St. Clair;

Since the '70s, it is custom for metro Detroiters to play hooky on the last Friday of June for an all-out booze-soaked bacchanal — though this isn't your dad's Jobbie. As Captain Jim told us in 2018, he retired the "Wheel of Destiny" (a spinning wheel designed to encourage female participants to flaunt nudity), but that hasn't put a stop to the debauchery. Each year, Jobbie Nooner attracts thousands who tie up, strip down, and booze away for this single-day summer celebration.

Barbers on a Boat Cruise

Sunday, July 21,

Detroit's newest boating event is a cut above the rest. Barbers on a Boat Cruise invites some of metro Detroit's leading cosmetologists and barbers to battle for prizes and bragging rights aboard the Detroit Princess. Hosted by the Motown Barber Association, the cruise offers competitions in various fade categories, as well as battles between makeup artists. The ticketed event also offers vendors, free food, and a cash bar.



Sadly, it appears that OABI, or Once Around Belle Isle — a seven-year tradition of stand-up paddleboard races around Belle Isle scheduled for early August — was abruptly canceled. Event organizers posted a notice on their Facebook page last week saying they set a save the date for the event, hoping to ink a deal to sell the event; apparently the prospective buyer backed out in the 11th hour. "For the past 7 years we were thrilled to carry the awesome responsibility of producing an event that lived up to such great expectations," the organizers wrote. "However, market forces coupled with venue limitations and other factors led us to this very difficult decision." Here's to hoping a buyer comes forward for next year.

Raft Off

Saturday, Aug. 10; Muscamoot Bay, Lake St. Clair,

Entering its 16th year is Raft Off — the world's largest boat tie-off. Well, unofficially. Last year the Raft Off, which takes place in Lake St. Clair's Muscamoot Bay, attempted the Guiness World Record for the largest boat tie-off. Though last year's effort fell short of clinching the record, the party still raged. Each August, an estimated 60,000-plus people attend (that's a lot of boats!) to create what is called "The Gauntlet" — a 2-4-mile-long formation and party arena.


Saturday, Aug. 24 and Sunday, Aug. 25; Detroit River,

Have you ever watched a NASCAR or Formula 1 race and thought, "Gee, this would be a lot cooler if it were on the water?" Well, bam. Welcome Detroit's Hydrofest — a ticketed racing event along the Detroit River featuring some of the world's fastest automotive powered hydroplanes. This year's event — the 103rd — will focus on several different races, including Grand Prix Hydroplanes, H-350 Hydro, Jersey speed skiffs, supercharged Hydros, as well as live music, entertainment, and a hot-rod show.

House Music Boat Rave Party

Saturday, Aug. 10; Jefferson Beach Marina, St. Clair Shores;

Taking the soap box and the rave to the sea is the first-ever Michigan Needs a Green New Deal House Music Boat Rave Party. Hosted by Prestige Detroit Events and aspiring congressman Anthony Carbonaro, MNAGNDHMBRP will take over a three-story yacht (aptly named Ovation) for a night of unlimited food, drink, and dancing in support of a more ecologically sustainable economy, as well as the Economic Bill of Rights — which protects the right to a single-payer healthcare system, living wages, and affordable housing and tuition. The Ovation will cruise the many sights of the Detroit River with six house DJs across two stages with unlimited food and booze (all included in the $250 ticket price).

Summer Beer Tasting Boat Cruise

Saturday, Aug. 17; 20 Civic Center Dr., Detroit;

How many beers can you drink in 2.5 hours? It's not a question as much as it is a challenge presented by Motor City Brew Tours' latest voyage, the Summer Beer Tasting Boat Cruise aboard the ever-royal Detroit Princess Riverboat. The ticketed tasting event includes 15 drink sample tickets (that's 4-ounce pours per sample, good goddamn) for beer, hard cider, and spiked seltzer, as well as plenty of appetizers to soak it all up.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.