The Cannon River between Cannon Falls and Welch, Minnesota is a great place for a day paddle or fishing. The public put-in is in a city park in Cannon Falls. There are a number of small restaurants and other amenities. You can rent equipment (17'Grummans or Old Town Otter kayaks) in Cannon Falls or (17' Grummans or SOT kayaks in Welch).
The river runs through some farmland and the low-bluffs that are a beautiful part of Southeastern Minnesota. There are a few riffles and small runs, but mostly flat moving water. The river winds around islands and is fed by several creeks. I understand the fishing is pretty good, but I have no direct experience with that. The river can be very swift and one should inquire about water levels before setting out. The outfitters in Welch will close their doors when they feel the water is moving too fast.
This is a great litter river for viewing wildlife. My family and I have seen eagles, hawks, turtles, fish, and beaver. The fall colors are spectacular.
If you paddle in the summer, you might need to dodge some inner-tubers the last few miles.
I recommend it for a day of paddling if you are near Minnneapolis/St.Paul.
The town of Cannon Falls is larger Welch. Cannon Falls has eating and drinking establishments and this great little deli called Lorenz (I think). There is a laundromat near the river (the guy who owns it also rents canoes and kayaks).
Welch has a campground, a small restaurant and an ice cream shop.
If you are looking for biking, there is the Cannon Valley Trail that runs between Cannon Falls and Redwing and runs right along the river.
Welch Mill's $5 landing fee.
From St. Paul to Welch: Take Hwy 61 South to Welch Valley Road, turn right (south) about 4 miles.
From St. Paul to Cannon Falls: Take Hwy 52 South to Minn. Hwy 19. Go east into Cannon Falls.
Put in is public on in the main city park in Cannon Falls. The best take out is in Welch at the Welch Mill Canoe and Tube. They charge $5 for a landing fee, but you can leave a car there. They will also haul you and your boat to the top (for a fee) or you can rent from them.