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How to experience the Cuyahoga River this summer

Cuyahoga River
Posted at 8:28 PM, May 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 20:29:06-04

CLEVELAND — Whether you’re on the Cuyahoga River or Lake Erie, there are plenty of ways to take in Cleveland’s waterfront in the upcoming summer months.

Recreation on the river has been riding a wave of success amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While several businesses have faced challenges, others have been able to keep their head above water.

Captain Freddy Coffey pilots BrewBoat Cleveland up and down the river. The pedal-carts on water just set sail on their sixth season this weekend.

“It’s been a struggle for everybody and last year it was down for us,” Coffey said. “But the benefit we have is that we’re outside, it’s in smaller groups so the largest group sizes we do is 14 people. So, people can stay in their bubble if they’re still not comfortable in being in big crowds.”

BrewBoat Cleveland is also adding to its fleet of watercraft, bringing in two new boats that feature pub-style stools as opposed to the pedaling seats on the current boats.

“When the pandemic hit, we started thinking about small groups and the way people are going to be getting back out together,” Coffey said. “We decided instead of getting one big one, let’s go two smaller ones and that’s going to leave dock every half-hour.”

Coffey also expects to add to their staffing, expecting to have 18-24 members between their captains and cruise coordinators once all four boats are up and running at the same time.

As the boats motor through the river, they navigate the channel with other boaters, paddle boarders and kayakers. After years of work to restore the river, residents are reaping the benefits of a cleaner, safer Cuyahoga.

“The river has been cleaned up. The Green Space has been dramatically improved over the years,” said Dan Whodak, who owns River Cruiser Kayaking.

Whodak operates the mobile kayak rental business has seen the demand for kayaking jump in recent years, particularly during the pandemic.

“Just recently they made the Cuyahoga river a designated stat water trail with tons of access points divided up to five beautiful sections,” Whodak said.

USA Today ranked the Cuyahoga River the top destination for urban kayaking in North America. The publication highlighted the Cuyahoga River Water Trail which features five segments along the 87-mile-long river.

BrewBoat Cleveland operates Wednesday-Sunday and books in groups of 10-14 people. Coffey says that Saturdays are booked through August, with Fridays and Sundays being your best bet for booking for the time being. You can make your reservations here.

If you’re looking to get into kayaking or in need of a rental, Whodak recommends taking one of their lessons offered by River Cruiser Kayaking or one of their guided tours.

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