Soak Up the Summer Sun with Watery Staycations! : Paddle out in a Providence Kayak or Gondola

Providence is a hopping city surrounded by water, as three rivers converge in the heart of the capital city. Kayaking and boating are great ways to see this historical mecca from a different perspective, practicing your backstroke or just coasting while experiencing some local waterside flavors and history. It’s fun for the entire family! Why go anywhere else?

Matthew “Marcello” Haynes became a gondolier in 1999, something he’d always wanted to do. You’ve likely seen him rowing down the river at a WaterFire event. In 2007, he bought the company La Gondola. Right about that time, Tom McGinn bought the Providence River Boat Company. Then, in spring 2017, as Marcello describes it, “Tom and his partner Kristin Stone and I sat for a pint one night and decided we’d like to open a kayak company. So we’ve been contemporaries on the river for quite some time.”

Together, the trio started Providence Kayak with a dozen boats and built up from there. Marcello and Stone run Providence Kayak together, while McGinn and Stone run the Providence River Boat Company, which offers various tours. Venn diagram aside, whether you’re looking to ride the rivers in a gondola, kayak or river boat, they’ve got ya covered. Customer service at each location is top notch. 

Ever expanding to accommodate their customers, they now have additional choices, including kayaking at Lincoln Woods State Park. The beach here is nestled into a picturesque woodsy area offering lots of photo opportunities. The ride is relaxed, and there are plenty of spots to take shade if need be. Rates are super reasonable. Booking a trip online is easy, and you can always call if you have questions. Take a 45-minute ride if you’re just looking to mosey around the pond for a bit. Consider taking the 75-minute option if you like to stop and smell the lilies while drifting leisurely. With 26 boats and availability seven days a week this season, you’re sure to get a reservation fitting your schedule, but if you’ve got a large group you should book well in advance. Sam efficiently checked us in and handed off our gear, while Nathan was very helpful getting us in and out of the sit-atop boats. Leave valuables at home. Cell phones can be carried in a water-resistant life vest pocket. Bring sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen, water shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting a tad wet. New to the sport? No worries, “We do give quick tutorials, like rowing backwards and forwards,” says Sam.

Regarding La Gondola, Marcello is very passionate about what he does. “Rowing is part of my soul. It is what I am supposed to do. And I am very fortunate to be able to do a job that I love as much as I do.” Whether you have a romantic partner or not, you will enjoy the ambiance of a great glide down the Woonasquatucket and Providence rivers, reveling in the sights and beauty of this historic city. They provide complimentary wine biscuits and a cooler for your beverages, or take advantage of their champagne package for that special occasion! Here you can experience the rivers as Venetians do, relaxing into a romantic glide (roses, moonlight, music and message in a bottle optional). Our gondolier was Amadeo, who serenaded us along the way. Awesome! All the gondoliers sing, and are experienced guides, so you can’t go wrong whomever you get! Gotta say, this was way better than the gondola ride I had in Venice! Whether you are celebrating a special occasion or just wish to take in the sights of the city from a unique perspective, a gondola ride is a great way to make your Providence trip memorable. Where else can you experience such magic without getting on a plane?

La Gondola can accommodate up to six passengers on each boat. Reservations are highly recommended and are always exclusive to your party. La Gondola is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Season runs through October 31, so don’t miss your chance this year to experience Providence from a new perspective! Trips are always subject to availability and weather. 

Gondolas operate from Citizen’s Plaza. For more information on Gondola RI, call (401) 421-8877 or visit

For more information on Providence Kayak, call (401) 829-1769 or visit They are located at 101 Dyer St at the Capriccio Landing.

To rent kayaks at the Lincoln Woods beach, call (401) 829-1769. Reserve your time in advance as this sport is a popular summertime exercise. 

Check out the Providence River Boat Company online at for info on tours, including a nighttime ghost cruise. They can also be reached at (401) 580-BOAT.