Wisconsin Adventure Family

10 Best Places to Paddle with Kids in Madison, Wisconsin!

Madison, Wisconsin, is a top destination for kayaking with kids, thanks to its abundance of lakes and rivers. With over 15,000 lakes and countless miles of shoreline, Wisconsin is a premier location for water sports in the US. Whether you prefer the calm waters of a lake or the excitement of a river, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to paddle and explore in Madison. Take advantage of this unforgettable outdoor adventure!

Paddling up north Wisconsin in the summer.

Paddling adventures in Madison’s lakes and rivers

The benefits of kayaking are clear. From the physical health benefits to the mental health benefits, getting on the water and cruising around under your power will make you smile from ear to ear. But what’s unclear is which lakes you prioritize kayaking on first. Well, worry no more! We’ve got a killer list of the 10 best places to kayak in Madison, Wisconsin. Let’s jump right in!

Paddling in Lake Mendota in the afternoon.
Paddling in Lake Wingra in the Summer
Family-friendly water sports in Madison, WI

Lakes we Love in Wisconsin

Lakes are the best place to paddle if you want to start kayaking or going with kids and dogs! The calm water makes it easy to get to where you want to go, and there are very few obstacles you need to watch out for. Getting in the boat is also incredibly easy, as many put-ins at the lakes listed below have dedicated boat launches specific to kayakers and canoers. For a fun day of kayaking, check out one of these fantastic lakes near Madison, Wisconsin!

  1. Lake Mendota
  2. Mirror Lake
  3. Lake Monona
  4. Wingra Lake
  5. Lake Wisconsin

Rivers and Creeks in Wisconsin

If you plan on paddling on moving water like a river or creek, you must be sure you’re an experienced boater. Take a kayaking course from a local paddling shop or go out with friends who know how to kayak on moving water safely. Fliping or getting caught on a rock or low-hanging branch can quickly turn from fun to dangerous. If you’re ready, here are the best rivers and creeks to kayak near Madison, Wisconsin!

  1. Yahara River
  2. Maunesha River
  3. Black Earth Creek
  4. Badfish Creek
  5. Wisconsin River
Exploring Madison’s waterways with children
Paddling with our daughter and puppy in Lake Wingra, Madison, wisconsin.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of fantastic kayaking opportunities near Madison, Wisconsin. Whether you’re looking for a nice leisurely paddle on a lake or some fun, adventuresome waves on a river or creek, Madison will indeed have something you’ll love to paddle on.

Always wear a life jacket whenever you go out, and never paddle alone. Check the weather and plan to reschedule your trip if the conditions will result in windy, stormy weather. 

And for more awesome outdoor content, check out our Instagram page here! We Can’t wait to see you out on the water soon!

Where to Rent Paddling Equipment in Madison, Wisconsin

If you don’t have your kayaks or canoes, don’t worry! Madison has plenty of rental options for paddling equipment. Here are a few places that we used in the past and highly recommended to check out:

  1. Rutabaga Paddlesports offers kayak and canoe rentals, stand-up paddleboards, and accessories.
  2. Brittingham Boats rents kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboats, and rowboats and has on-site amenities like restrooms and a picnic area.
  3. Wingra Boats has been providing paddle equipment for over 100 years and offers canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, rowboats, and sailboats, as well as a lakeside cafe.

  • Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time at your chosen rental shop, especially during peak season.
  • With rental equipment secured, you’ll be ready to explore Madison’s stunning waterways and create unforgettable family memories.

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