Fort Lauderdale has been called the Venice of America with its 300-plus miles of inland canals. The water is warm and placid, there are miles of paddling opportunity, and happier still, few areas offer more diversions when you haul out - honky-tonk bars where the beer is served from icy coolers and the fresh mullet dip lies sweet on your tongue (try Jimbo's on Virginia Key). From Miami's Biscayne Bay you can paddle up the Oleta River to Maul Lake, or tour the mangrove trails. On Biscayne Bay you can admire the Miami skyline (try Matheson Hammock Park Beach for a great view), keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, check out the enormous mansions lining the bay, or haul ashore at some of Miami's best beaches. Here's a well-kept secret: The best view of Miami's famed South Beach art deco architecture is from the water. Paddle off Lummus Park and you'll see why. If you like to gander at architecture of a different sort, come ashore at Lummus Park Beach (known worldwide as South Beach) for the hard-body parade.

Miami outfitters: Sailboards Miami, (305) 361-7245,

Fort Lauderdale: Full Moon Kayak Company, (954) 328-5231, www.full

Water and history meet front and center. Slide down the Potomac River to Theodore Roosevelt Island and haul ashore for a glimpse of Roosevelt's statue. Back on the water and rounding the island's tip, it's a widescreen architectural who's who, thanks to Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who declared no building in his city should be higher than the Capitol. The Lincoln and the Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol all gleam marble white before you. Plenty of places for refreshment, too. Haul in at Tony and Joe's Seafood (with a great view of the Kennedy Center and Roosevelt Island) on the waterfront at Georgetown's Washington Harbor. Or - local secret - travel downriver to the Pentagon lagoon, where the Columbia Island Marina Café serves icy cold, cheap beer.