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Paddleboating is a leisurely end-of-summer afternoon option

August 10, 2018

Sure, walking around Silver Lake Park is fun, but have you tried paddleboating?

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the parking lot sits Silver Lake Boat and Bike Rentals, the most accessible aquatic hub you’ll find in downtown Rochester.

Owner Aaron Richard gave us the lowdown on your next afternoon adventure.

Where is it? If you park in the Silver Lake lot at 800 W Silver Lake Drive, you should see the swans, steam engine, and signs that denote Silver Lake Boat and Bike Rentals.

Who can use an electric paddleboat? Since the boats power themselves, people of virtually any age and ability level can take them out (life jackets are required for the younger crowd).

How much does it cost? The paddleboats are $14 for a half-hour ride, or $24 for an hour. Check silverlakefun.com for other boat and biking options.

How long should I rent the boat? Richard usually asks newcomers where they want to go. If you’re taking a paddleboat out on Silver Lake and want to make it all the way to the Civic Center downtown, that mini-tour will take about an hour. If you just want to glide around on the lake, start with a half-hour rental. “People come down here in between doctors’ appointments,” Richard said.

What do I need? As far as getting wet goes, the paddleboats shouldn’t pose any danger (although you’ll want to wear something you don’t mind getting wet if you want to kayak). You’ll be fine in your street clothes.

Where should I go? Whether you’re looking to branch out or just drift and visit with local wildlife, there are a (figurative) million ways to go, once you’ve got your boat.

You know those stone arched bridges on the lake? Head that way to view wildlife like eagles, blue herons, baby turtles sunning themselves on logs, beavers and muskrat building shelters, and more. “It’s really wooded and kind of nature-ish,” Richard said. “It’s quiet and a little more secluded back there, which is nice.”

When Richard takes his kids out, he’ll paddle under the 7th Street bridge to see tiny swallows that den in the mud under the pass. “They’re just darting back and forth,” he said. “It’s really neat for the kids, seeing the birds jump out of there.”

Otherwise, drop by Gingerbread House bakery on Broadway on your way to the boats for some “duck food” (chopped stale bread) and feed the geese that congregate around the boat rental area and playground. Yep, the geese will totally follow you out if you have food, Richard said - but they shouldn’t try to get into the boat with you. Probably.

When can I go? Anytime you have a free 30-60 minutes! Between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., that is. There’s rarely a waiting list, Richard said. In the middle of the summer, he recommends showing up around 7:30 p.m., though - it’s a cooler, shadier, more relaxing ride than you’d get at noon.

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