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Fabulous fun on nearby waterways

This summer take advantage of New York State's beautful waterways

If your family is seeking to have a unique summertime adventure, a cruise along the New York State Canal system might fit the bill. Rent a boat. Dock along the canals. Bike the trails along the waterway. Walk to many historic sites, museums, attractions and restaurants.

Many Hudson Valley parents may not have entertained this vacation for their family because they don't have any experience operating a vessel - especially one with a galley and sleeping accommodations.

According to Aimee LeFever of Mid-Lakes Navigation in Skaneateles, New York, all skill levels are welcome to rent including novices. LeFever said there are different sized cruising boats families can choose from.

There is a 34-foot version with a sleeping cabin with a double bed and a bunk bed in the galley. There's also a 41-foot version that houses the same and also includes a double-sized futon, too. All boats have a galley outfitted with pots and pans and dishes, silverware and glasses. The basics are there, but families must bring the food they want to prepare on board.

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Bringing even a little more ease to planning this trip, the rental company provides bed and bath linens - blankets, pillows and towels, plus two to four adult bicycles LeFever said that one of the more challenging aspects of taking a boat trip with kids is making sure they are compliant with New York State law, which requires that children age 12 and younger to wear a life vest at all times while the boat is underway.

This might be more challenging for parents with younger children as they may not understand why they have to wear safety gear. Adult-sized life vests are also available on the boat. But parents must purchase vests for their younger children.

LeFever suggests that parents purchase vests for their kids several weeks in advance and have them wear it while still at home. If a child is too young or small to ride an adult-sized bike, parents have to bring their bikes and helmets, too, as those are not provided by the rental company.

And another item LeFever suggest parents of infants and toddlers take along with them is something in which children can be restrained or contained, such as a car seat or a pack and play. The driving lesson begins when your family arrives to rent the boat.

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First, you learn how to use, operate, and troubleshoot equipment inside the boat. Then an instructor takes you on the water and shows you how to drive the boat, which includes a trip through a lock.

LeFever said her company provides a list of towns, and points of curiosity, along the way. But sometimes staying at one location and living on the water is just as fun and relaxing.

For more information on cruising visit canals.ny.gov.