If you were to spend nine months paddling 5,740 miles around the eastern United States as Jake Stachovak did in 2009 and 2010, you’d quickly develop a deep-seated hatred of headwinds and learn to trust in the kindness of total strangers. You would also see a vast swath of America at a sea kayaker’s pace, traveling down the Mississippi River, through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic coastline. You’d travel the length of the Erie Canal and three of the five Great Lakes and you would discover, often in unexpected places, some of the very best paddling destinations in America. And if, after you’d finished, a magazine editor asked you to name your favorite part of the grand route, you would laugh at the question. This country is too chock-full of great paddling locations to call any one of them the best. But after Stachovak stopped laughing, he did share a few of his favorites. Now go see them for yourself.