When we moved from the suburbs to the city, the one thing I really missed was walking to my town’s beach and taking my Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) for a pre-breakfast paddle. The lake was quiet in the morning, with only a few triathletes training and usually no waves, so it was a very meditative workout that I didn’t think I could reproduce in the city. My big discovery this summer—where we’re all trying to be outside and not close to other people—is that Urban Kayaks has a SUP kiosk near the Columbia Yacht Club on Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago. It’s not open for a sunrise paddle, but if you go on a weekday, it’s still a very solo and contemplative activity. If you choose to paddle out on a weekend afternoon when all the boats are anchored in the harbor, it’s a party and music workout.
Who can paddle? Honestly, anyone! The rental SUPs are big and stable, plus the harbor is protected so while you may have a little chop, you’re never going to have actual waves to battle. But alone? Yes! You never leave the harbor, so in the very unlikely event that you need help, it’s close at hand. Of course, I have also enjoyed paddling with friends this summer, but if it’s a beautiful day and I feel like going out on the water, I do. I don’t try to coordinate or compromise. It’s my favorite way to get exercise, fresh air and water time.