Heat and humidity are constant culprits when it comes to indulging in summer festivities in the nation’s capital. Sightseeing, picnics on the National Mall and selfies at monuments become downright unpleasant when paired with the scorching sun and sticky air.
But thanks to the ingenious city planning of our founding fathers, the beauty of Washington DC can be relished from a cooler vantage point (literally and metaphorically speaking); the water. A picturesque waterfront flowing through the city provides a myriad of boating experiences for all ages. Whether you’re an athlete that prefers to kayak and get wet, a you’re a tourist looking for a relaxing cruise along the cityscape, or somewhere in between, there’s no better or cooler way to see “America’s hometown” than from the ebb and flow of a boat.
Kayaking, Canoeing and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
For those that enjoy a side of physical exercise with their sightseeing, the Key Bridge Boathouse is just the place to begin your waterway adventure. Options for renting range from kayaks and canoes to stand up paddle boards. After visitors fill out a quick form and grab a life jacket, they can be on their way paddling past the Kennedy Center and enjoying views of some of the city’s most notable monuments. The boathouse is conveniently located on the edge of Georgetown, giving you the perfect activity for burning all those calories you may have consumed at one of DC’s best dining destinations in the area. Friendly staff accompanied with rates as low as $20 an hour makes the Key Bridge Boathouse an ideal outing for both first time tourists and longtime DC residents looking for a fresh view of the city.
Paddle boating is another active boating experience that offers fun for the whole family. Tidal Basin Paddle Boats is one of the most well-known paddle boating companies in DC due to its postcard perfect view of the Jefferson Memorial. Prices range from $15 per an hour for a two passenger boat versus $24 per an hour for a four passenger boat. The hours of operation run from 10 am to 6 pm, with the last rental being sold at 6 p.m. Families with young children will especially appreciate this visit as most youngsters prefer to release some of that extra energy by pedaling, giving many parents a chance to sit back and relish the city’s skyline.
One step below a yacht and a whole staircase above a canoe and you have yourself a sail boat. These elegant vessels combine sophistication with adventure and pepper DC’s waterways during the summer months. But don’t let the sail boat’s upper-crest reputation detour you or your wallet from experiencing the flap of a sail when it catches that perfect gust. Whether you’re an experienced sea goer or a novice looking to learn a new skill, Mariner Sailing School is your one stop shop for sail boating. Located in the Alexandria, Virginia and just a hop, skip and a jump from DC proper, this sailing school offers 19 foot ‘Flying Scots’ rentals and 14 foot ‘Sunfish’ rentals alongside kayak and canoe rentals. Reservations are accepted and the hourly rate is as cheap as $35 per two hours depending on the day and type of boat you choose. Locals looking for a unique hobby can sign up for instructional classes.
If relaxation is your primary goal for an outing on the town than Potomac Riverboat Company offers just the experience you’re looking for. The company offers sightseeing tours past Mount Vernon, the Washington Monument or Georgetown and Alexandria. Water taxi services are also offered to Washington’s National Mall and to DC’s beloved baseball stadium and home of the Nationals. Prices vary according to your tour and the date of your adventure and it is recommended that you purchase the tickets beforehand.