Canal Vacations in the United States - Divine Lifestyle
Family Travel

Canal Vacations in the United States

Canal Vacations aren't reserved for Europe. Find these right here in the states.

The canals of America are no longer necessary to transport goods, which was their original purpose, but they do provide scenic waterways. After the railroads began to dominate the transportation scene, a lot of the canals that were created were left to fill, go wild or abandoned entirely. It wasn’t until years later when communities began focusing on the need for more recreation areas that many of these old canals were rejuvenated, dredged out and then reopened to the public along with paved paths and canal side facilities. This eventually led to people taking canal vacations.

Canal Vacations Across the Country

Canal vacations can be spent on the water or on the land, with the canals as your destination, look to the surrounding areas and communities that have established themselves along these once thriving routes.


The Erie Canal of New York ran from Albany to Buffalo, where it reached Lake Erie. This waterway has been designated as a National Heritage Site, affording it extra attention and funds that are invested in its upkeep and development. Because of that, the parts of the canal that are still in operation are lined with thriving communities and businesses that cater to the visitors that pass through. Smaller boat trips can be arranged for the day or even overnight trips, and there is always the possibility to rent small recreational watercraft so that you can paddle your way along the canal. If being out on the water is not your first option, the entire corridor is lined with easy to navigate bike paths that range from easy to difficult terrain.


The almost 100 miles of canals that make up the Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal is open to visitors to explore, follow and study, though the best views and portions of the I & M run from Rockdale to LaSalle. Four different state parks are situated along the length of the canal, where each features a different type of natural setting or wildlife haven. The original towpath was repaved, making it easier for hikers and bikers to travel, and families can often be seen paddling along the gentle and slow-moving water of the canal in canoes and kayaks.


The historic Delaware Canal is now a protected area with a large forested area encompassing it. The canal and towpath provide several chances for recreation, from boating to biking. In the park alone there are additional lakes, wooded islands and private beaches that dot the entire shoreline. As a destination, you will be on a trail of discovery as you hop from small town to country markets and can visit pick your own farms or arrange for trail rides with local horse farms.

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19 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. I have never been on ant of the US canals. I think this would be a fun trip to take a ride on a few of them..

  2. Jennifer Van Huss

    I didn’t realize such a place existed in the STATES!! It sounds like a great place to visit!

  3. I would have thought you had to go some place like Venice to find a canal. I never would have thought of them being in the United States. These look like great places to visit. Now all I need is a gondola, laugh.

  4. I would love to visit all of these canals but the Deleware canal sounds the best being surrounded by trees! That is totally my style!

  5. These are all cool destinations. I would love to see a manmade canal in person. I thin that would be so cool!

  6. I don’t live close to any of these canals but a trip like this sounds really fun.  What a great way to make use of these canals and not let them go to waste.

  7. I had no idea there are places like this in the US. These are lovely places to visit.

  8. To me, there is nothing better than being on the water in the summer time. I would love to kayak on the Chicago River this summer…it is a location you might want to research for this list!

  9. I haven’t ever been to any of these canals. Going on a boating tour would be a fun experience; however, I think I would rather go to the beach or mountains instead. 🙂 My husband isn’t a huge fan of the outdoors.

  10. Ohhh so do you go to canal all over the country?! I’ve never heard of that type of trip. Sounds cool.

  11. The Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal sounds like it would be the most fun one. 100 miles of scenery! I wonder if we have something similar here in Canada.

  12. What fun vacations spots! I never even thought of a canal vacation, sounds like something I would enjoy!

  13. adriana

    This is such a great list! So great for all ages too, which is definitely the best part. I definitely have to check some of these locations out!

  14. jennifer

    The Erie Canal really is a beauty! It’s such a sight to see, as are all of these! Great vacation spots for the summer road trips!

  15. Victoria heckstall

    It such a cool destination! I would love to visit there. It’s really an interesting place.

  16. These are really cool and beautiful places. I really wish we can see this lovely places in the future. 

  17. This looks like such a fun experience! I would love to go on a canal tour, especially in NY!!!

  18. I love to travel, but never thought about taking a canal vacation. These sound like some great places to visit.

  19. There are others in San Antonio and South Florida that would be a good addition to the list. Check ’em out.

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