There's a wide variety of rivers, streams, lakes, and sounds for canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts. In fact, most cities with rivers running through them now have a contingent of outfitters.
Out in the hinterlands, some of the best paddling takes place along Maine's coast or through its 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway, a series of remote rivers, lakes, and ponds.
In summer, it's hot and humid in Florida's Everglades National Park, but winter offers great opportunities along a maze of well-marked trails. You can rent canoes at the main park center at Flamingo.
The peaceful lakes of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area north of Minneapolis are another good choice.
Puget Sound's San Juan Islands, near Seattle, are enchanting when seen by canoe or kayak. San Juan Kayak Expeditions (tel. 360/378-4436; www.sanjuankayak.com) and Shearwater Adventures (tel. 360/376-4699; www.shearwaterkayaks.com) both have multiday trips to the islands, and biologists and naturalists lead educational expeditions sponsored by the nonprofit Sea Quest Expeditions (tel. 888/549-4253 or 360/378-5767; www.sea-quest-kayak.com).
For a truly unique kayaking experience, you can paddle among the humpback whales taking their winter break in Hawaii. Contact South Pacific Kayaks (tel. 800/776-2326 or 808/661-8400; www.southpacifickayaks.com).
For general information, contact the American Canoe Association, 7432 Alban Station Blvd., Ste. B226, Springfield, VA 22150 (tel. 703/451-0141; www.acanet.org), the nation's largest organization, for lists of trips and local clubs.