Doug & Jessa Davis

Photo By CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune

Doug and Jessa Davis, owners of River City Canoe and Kayak, spend much of their lives outside enjoying nature, but they found each other in New York City several years ago.

Doug was a police officer and Jessa was a business consultant, but they shared a passion for the outdoors. After moving to Louisville in 2008, they started a new life, a business and a family. Baby Madilyn was welcomed into their lives just this year, making them proud parents as well as business owners.

River City Canoe and Kayak has been open since 2009, and lets Doug and Jessa do what they love every day. As an advocate for conservation, Doug also uses the store as an avenue to promote the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, where he sits on the Board of Directors. The couple uses their love of the outdoors to connect with each other and the community.

Why did you want to leave New York?
“I’m tired of being a police officer in New York; I’m tired of locking up kids. I want to have a different impact on society. I want to have a different impact on kids and youth” said Doug. “We were both tired of New York.” Jessa agreed.

What brought you to Louisville?
“I was reading the August 2008 issue of Outdoor Magazine and in the article ‘Top 20 Places to Live Now,’ number seven on the list was Louisville,” Doug said. “That same month, National Geographic Magazine listed Bardstown, Ky., as one of the top adventure towns in the U.S. It’s the home of bourbon; they’re looking at building a whitewater park downtown. What more do you need? Bourbon and whitewater.”

How have you connected to Kentucky since being here?
“Water has been a continuing theme with us in the commonwealth since we first started looking at Louisville.” Doug said. “Water and the outdoors is what initially brought national attention to Kentucky. It’s what led us as a young professional, educated couple to move here. It’s what led us to open our business here. And it’s what led me to get involved with Kentucky Waterways Alliance.”

How has Madilyn changed your lives?
“Denali, our four-legged daughter, was the center of attention. Now we’re trying to share the attention between her and our new daughter,” Jessa laughed. “She (Madilyn) has caused us to grow up in a lot of ways; she’s caused us to focus a lot more than I think we’ve had to in the past.”

What’s your advice for happy couples and business owners?
“Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and don’t always think everything has to be your way,” Jessa said.

“Try to keep the clutter down,” Doug advised. “Take that little extra time to cut the cleaning down. Don’t get so caught up in the rat race. If we only have this one life to live, it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much money you made if you didn’t get to get out and enjoy it with your family or your friends or the people that matter to you.”


“Do take time out for yourselves as a couple- schedule date night,” Jessa said.


“Don’t get so caught up in the rat race,” said Doug.

Earth Day Paddle

Kentucky Waterways Alliance, River City Canoe & Kayak and Mayor Greg Fischer

Sunday, April 22; Paddle 12-4 p.m., reception 4-6 p.m.

A free-form interpretive paddle on Harrods Creek in Louisville, Ky. to celebrate Earth Day and clean water efforts.

Launch from either Captain’s Quarters, 5700 Captain’s Quarters Road, or the River City Canoe and Kayak Base, 814 Cherokee Road.

$30 includes paddle with interpretive stops, reception at Captain’s Quarters with appetizers and live music. Help support Kentucky Waterways Alliance and come out to the KWA Earth Day Paddle on Harrod’s Creek. A ticket for only $30 will give you access to the water, a reception at Captain’s Quarters, including appetizers and live music. River City Canoe and Kayak is the title sponsor, offering canoe and kayak rentals. All the proceeds from the event and rentals will benefit Kentucky Waterways Alliance and help support the cleanliness of our local water.

More info: