Day trips are paddling gateways. They mark the transition from casual after work paddles to the soul altering journeys of discovery that make sea kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater lifelong pursuits. The skills you learn from day tripping—gear selection, navigation, group dynamics and more complex paddle strokes to handle your craft in varying conditions—will serve you well in the future, and pave the way to longer overnight and multiday trips. Before you dive into this list of our favorite day trip destinations, heed this warning: You are about to take the first step toward becoming hopelessly addicted to paddling.

Tallahassee, Fla.

Floating Florida

Santa Cruz, Calif.

California Wild

Asheville, N.C.

Easy Eastern Whitewater

Hessel, Mich.

Sea Kayaking an Inland Sea

Algonquin Park, Ontario

The Heart of Canoe Country