Go with the Flow: Recreation on the Water in DC and Beyond

Exploring the Anacostia by canoe

Exploring the Anacostia by canoe



A great way to enjoy a warm weather day is on the water, where you can paddle (or pedal or sail or float or motor) as you take in the scenery and explore. There are a bunch of places around the DC area where you can do all of the above, and if you’ve been reading KFDC for awhile then you probably know we’ve enjoyed many of them. While some are detailed in individual posts, here’s a convenient round-up of them all along with a few more places where you can go with flow around DC.

* Boating in DC now runs many of the boathouses in DC and nearby, including Fletcher’s Boathouse, Ballpark Boathouse, Key Bridge Boathouse, National Harbor, Thompson Boat Center, the Tidal Basin, Washington Sailing Marina, and The Wharf. The website has general info on all of them, and more details are below.
Canoe | $25/hour
Single kayak | $16/hour
Double kayak | $20/hour
Rowboats | $14/hour or $25/day
Stand-Up Paddleboard | $22/hour
2-Person Pedal Boat | $18/hour
4-Person Boat | $30/hour
2-person Swan Boat | $34/hour

Flethcher’s Boathouse
Where: Just off the C&O, 4940 Canal Rd. | Northwest DC
When: Saturday – Monday, April through October
Rates: see above

Our go-to for paddling on the Potomac. Canoes, kayaks, row boats, and stand up paddleboards are available for rent for some fun on the river. Fletcher’s is also a great place to enjoy a picnic and Potomac views — an open grassy area includes grills, tables, and space to toss a Frisbee. If you can, get there by bike — just off the C&O tow path, it’s conveniently located for cyclers. Read more about Fletcher’s here.

Key Bridge Boathouse
Where: Beneath the Key Bridge | Georgetown, DC
When: Saturday – Monday, April through October
Rates: See above

They have canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, plus lessons, fitness classes and special tours. You can paddle, then enjoy even more fun at Georgetown Waterfront Park (play in the sprays!), which is a hop, skip, and jump away.

Tidal Basin Pedal
Where: DC Tidal Basin | National Mall Area, DC
When: Saturday – Monday, April through October
Rates: $18/hour 2-person boat, $30/hour 4-person boat, $34/hour 2-person Swan boat

Get a new view of DC and take in iconic sites as you pedal your way around the Tidal Basin. Pedal boats are for rent next to the Tidal Basin parking lot just off Maine Avenue.

Thompson Boat Center
Where: Washington Harbour | Georgetown, DC
When: Sundays, mid-April through October
Rates: See above

Located right next to the Washington Harbour, it’s a great place to put in for lovely views of the Kennedy Center and Georgetown from the water. Canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards are available.

National Harbor
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Daily, mid-May through October 7
Rates: See above

Paddling and pedaling on the Potomac are just some of the many activities offered at National Harbor. You can also go for a spin on the Capital Wheel, ride a carousel, romp on the playground, eat at one of many restaurants, shop, and more. You may not want to do this all in one day — but you can if you do! Read more about water activities and more at National Harbor in this KFDC post.

Ballpark Boathouse
Where: Diamond Teague Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Weekends & Wednesdays, May 12 – October
Rates: see above

Canoes and single and double kayaks are available. This paddling excursion on the Anacostia is more about the views from the water than the nature around it, since the area is very developed. You can get fresh perspectives of Nationals Park, Yards Park, and the Navy Yard, places most of us usually just see on land. Read more about Ballpark Boathouse in this KFDC post.

The Wharf Boat House
Where: Southwest DC
When: April – October
Rates: See above

The newest paddling location in DC offers kayak and paddleboard to explore the area from the Potomac River. Of course, before and/or after your water excursion, plan to spend time at the new waterfront hub full of restaurants, music venues, and fun for all ages.

Capital SUP
Where: Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Late May through summer
Rates: Start at $15/hour kayak & $25/hour paddleboard

Just opened next to Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfron, these ambassadors to the sport of stand up paddleboarding offer paddleboard, kayak, and pedalboard rentals, plus guided lessons and tours. Located at the end of the Anacostia Riverwalk right next to the Washington Navy Yard gate, Capital SUP DC is a convenient and beautiful location for a fun, active adventure on the water this summer.

Washington Sailing Marina
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: Friday, Sunday, & Monday, May – September
Rates: See above

If you want to set sail on the Potomac, you can rent a small sailing boat at this location. Kayaks and stand up paddleboards are here, too. It’s located right off the GW Parkway near DCA.

Bladensburg Waterfront Park
Where: Bladensburg, MD
When: April through October
Rates: See below

One of the better deals around. For $20/resident and $26/non-resident, you can rent canoes and kayaks to explore the Anacostia (and apparently you can paddle to the National Arboretum) for the whole day! Paddle and row boats are $10/hour, $25/day for residents, and
$13/hour, $33/day for non-residents. They also offer pontoon boat tours on Thursdays & Fridays at 12pm, and Saturdays & Sundays at 5pm ($2/PG resident, $3/non-resident). Read more about Bladensburg Waterfront Park in this KFDC post.

Quiet Waters Park
Where: Annapolis, MD
When: April through October
Rates: $15-20/hourly, $45-60/full day + $6/car admission

Enjoy paddling opportunities on the South River at this beautiful park in Annapolis. Be sure to take advantage of recreation on land too — you can hike, bike, check out art, picnic, and more! Read about a KFDC adventure at Quiet Waters here.

Solomons Boat Rental
Where: Solomons Island, MD
When: April through October
Rates: Start at $89/hour

Rent your own pontoon (or other motor powered boat) for an excursion on the Patuxent River. Located on Solomons Island, this outfitter rents in one, two, four, or eight hour blocks. Boats accommodate many people, so you can share the cost. Bring along food for a picnic on the water, and plan to jump in for some swimming, too! Read more about the experience in this KFDC post.

Seneca Creek State Park
Where: Gaithersburg, MD
When: May through Septeber
Rates: See below

It’s worth the drive from DC, not only because they have great paddling rates, but also because it’s a beautiful park with lots to do along with the on-water fun. Hike, bike, play disc golf, enjoy an awesome tire playground, and so much more. And pontoon boat rides are offered Saturday and Sunday at 2pm and 4pm for $2 per person.
Boat rental rates:
Canoes and Rowboats | $8/hour or $28/4 hours
2 Person Pedal Boats | $8/hour or $28/4 hours
1 or 2 Person Kayaks | $9/hour or $32/4 hours
4 Person Pedal Boats | $12/hour or $40/4 hours

Pohick Bay Regional Park
Where: Lorton, VA
When: March 10 – October 8
Rates: Vary by vessel (see website)

This was first recommended by a KFDC reader, but we’ve been since (though not for paddling yet). They have kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and stand up paddle boards, and jon boats. Rentals are available weekends only until May 25, but daily after that until September 3 (then only weekend again). Other activities at the park include hiking, playground fun, camping, mini and disc golf, and a swimming pool. Read more about Pohick Bay here.

River Riders
Where: Harpers Ferry, WV
When: Memorial Day – Labor Day, 8am – 6pm & Spring/Fall, 9am – 5pm
Rates: Start at $34, but vary by activity

If you want to take your water recreation up a notch, opt for a day trip or overnight out to West Virginia. With actual river rapids, they offer white water rafting and kayaking for exciting guided and self-guided adventure on the water. For more mellow fun, float down the Shenandoah or Potomac on a tubing trip.

* On Thursday evenings during late spring and summer, and the first Saturday of the month May – October, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts the free Anacostia River Discovery Series. Launching from different area parks from 5:30-7:30pm, paddlers can explore the river by kayaks and canoes, and those joining boat tours can enjoy the ride on an open air boat. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth, Diamond Teague Park, and Kingman Island are locations for these adventures. Be sure to check the schedule, as a few of these nights are bike and walking tours.


6 Comments

Filed under DC, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Sports, Spring, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

6 Responses to Go with the Flow: Recreation on the Water in DC and Beyond

  1. Beth

    Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA is another great spot with boat rentals and lot of other activities (hiking, playground, camping, mini and disc golf, swimming pool, to name some)

  2. Betsy

    Hi do you know the best ages for these boat trips? We have a 1 and 2 year old do any of these cater to that age?

    • Linda @ KidFriendly DC

      Hi Betsy, I think some of them might cater to those ages for certain vessels (pontoons, row boats), but call ahead to confirm. I’ll do some research, too, and will update this as I find out.

  3. Pingback: Duffing in D.C. | Covered In Flour

  4. Always looking for stuff to do with the little ones, especially boating, fishing, etc. I have a 5 year old and an 8 year old. Thanks for the info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *