If you want to see the city but dread traffic, take to the water. If there’s even a ribbon of a river, major summer destinations will have boat tours that not only serve as waterside platforms for spectacular views, but as point-to-point transportation. Think about it — no traffic lights, exhaust fumes or honking horns. Just a cooling breeze, the sensation of solitude and a chance to see city skylines through an unobstructed prism. Here are a few favorites. – Jay Lloyd
Without question, the most popular destination city for vacationing Philadelphians is our northern neighbor, New York. Since Manhattan is an island, water transportation was probably around long before the Dutch discovery of New Amsterdam. In fact, my parents were riding the boats here before World War I. The Circle Line fleet, which is docked within walking distance or a short bus ride from Times Square, casts off for tours of the major sights including the Statue of Liberty. If you have 2-1/2 hours to spare, take the whole enchilada – a complete circle around Manhattan, steaming on the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers. The cost is $39 for adults, $34 for seniors and $26 for kids.
Mom was an adventurous soul. Back in 1920 at the tender age of 21, she packed herself into foul weather gear and rode the Maid of the Mist steamboat into the bight of the powerfully cascading Horseshoe Falls. The “Maid” has been around since the mid-19th century, and vacationers still crowd the docks on the Canadian and New York sides of the Niagara River for a chance to see one of the world’s most awesome sights. Personally, I prefer the New York side. It’s less crowded and you avoid the border crossing delays. However, most visitors stay on the Canadian side where casinos, amusement rides and mega hotels dot the skyline. The boats leave from docks at Niagara Reservation State Park on the U.S. side and Queen Victoria Park on the Canadian. The tariff in Canada is $19.75 for adults, $12.75 for children. In New York, adults pay $15.50, children $9.00. If you choose Canada, don’t forget a passport!
CITY WATER TAXI
Visiting Boston this summer? A great way to get around and get a glimpse of the skyline — and the city’s major attractions — is by water taxi. It’s your ride from the airport to a harborside hotel or just a harbor cruise. Then there’s a visit to Old Ironsides or a waterfront restaurant. Sure beats the traffic. Float over here for all the fares and stops.
Two unique talents made tiny Holland a world power as early as the 15th century. The Dutch are unsurpassed in their knowledge of controlling water and engineering transportation networks, whether at sea, on land or in the air. Getting around on an Amsterdam vacation is simply a matter of following the canals to all the major sights and museums. The Canal Bus, part of the city transit system, is convenient, runs frequently and is highly efficient at a reasonable cost. A 24 hour ticket costs the equivalent of about $21, and you can get on and off wherever your interest takes you. The best starting place is the transportation hub at Central Rail Station.
Romantics compose rhapsodies about the charms of Paris and strolls along the Seine. Couples become engaged after just setting foot on the Left Bank. And the river that flows through the heart of Paris also winds past some of its most fabled attractions – the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower. The Batobus makes all the stops. Get off whenever you feel the urge to pop into a waterside café or visit a must-see landmark. Then catch a later boat to continue the odyssey. Tip: Try to be on board when the lights come on at the Eiffel Tower. An adult 24-hour ticket is about $20 in converted euros. See all the fares here, then click on the “stops” tab to find a Batobus dock near your hotel.
Some other popular destination spots to look for water transit during summer travels are Baltimore, Bermuda and London.