Best Urban Kayaking - 2013
Tempe Town Lake
The cheaper the pleasure, the happier we are — which is why we always leave Tempe Town Lake smiling after a good paddle. For just $25 a year for residents, $50 for non-residents, you can launch a kayak into the water anytime during lake hours of 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and paddle till your arms feel like anchors. We launch from the beach near the Mill Avenue bridge and try to hit both east and west boundaries to make a nearly four-mile run, which is a great workout. If you don't own a boat, try renting a single or double kayak at the kiosk on the lake's south side. Going during twilight or at night is a treat, especially as a way to cheat the summer sun. You may even see wildlife: We've gotten closeup shots of pelicans this year and saw a beaver swimming next to the boat. The water's not too icky — we promise. (True, a general ban on swimming is in effect because of high alkalinity and other potential pollution, but boating is considered safe.) Whether from fear of the water or other reasons, though, few people kayak on the Town Lake — and the solitude you'll find is just one more great reason to go.