Tag Archives: Anacostia River

Explore the Anacostia Watershed at Kingman & Heritage Islands

I’ve chaperoned a lot of field trips with my kids’ classes over the years, and one of my favorites is the annual third grade excursion to Kingman and Heritage Islands as part of the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Rice Rangers program. The visit involves planting arrow arum and wild rice in the muddy banks of the Anacostia River to help restore the wetlands, and there’s also a guided hike around the park to learn more about the ecosystem.

Rice Ranger, Sasha

And Owen a few years ago

It was the field trip with Sasha’s class this week that prompted me to feature Kingman Island here on the blog. We’ve been to the park many times for various activities. It’s located next to RFK Stadium — you actually have to go through the RFK parking lot to access the entrance — which isn’t too far from our house. Besides field trips, we’ve gone for short hikes and just to get an easy dose of nature close to home. And, of course, we’ve also been for the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival, which is probably what the park is best known for (and which I highly recommend attending if you enjoy bluegrass music).

The reason I haven’t covered Kingman Island on the blog until now is because I wasn’t sure if it was a great recommendation for a kid outing. The location is somewhat isolated, and there have been some safety concerns (this WaPo article from a few years ago touches on that). But on this recent visit, we saw several people there that weren’t part of our group hiking, biking, walking their dogs, and enjoying the natural oasis. The park is owned by the District, but operated by Living Classrooms, and along with other organizations like the Anacostia Watershed Society, they are working to help the area thrive and make it more accessible to the community.

There are two long wooden bridges in the park — the first crosses over to Heritage Island, the second takes you to Kingman Island. Both offer views of the wetlands, and you can spot turtles in the water below and birds all around. On this visit, we saw a box turtle, lots of tree swallows, mallards, geese, and a hawk. In the past, we’ve also spotted egrets, great blue herons, frogs, and foxes. There are short trails on both islands to hike, check out the vegetation, and try to spy wildlife. Some other things to know: Several tables are available in nice spots for a picnic, and a couple of port-a-potties are located along the trail on Kingman Island.

Occasionally, the Anacostia Watershed Society leads explorations of Kingman Island along with boat tours of the river. And some events in their Anacostia River Discovery Series take place at Kingman, too.

Duck, duck…goose!

Kingman & Heritage Islands are accessible from RFK Parking Lot 6 near 575 Oklahoma Avenue NE. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Free, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Weekdays, Weekend

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, but be sure to confirm rates, as those listed here may have changed.
Canoe | $31/hour
Single kayak | $23/hour
Double kayak | $33/hour
Rowboats | $23.10/hour
Stand-Up Paddleboard | $23/hour
4-Person Pedal Boat | $38-40/hour

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 — read more about it all here.

Fletcher’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: $38-40/hour 4-person 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.

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/PG County 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! Tandem boats are a little more at $25/resident, $33/non-resident. 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. [Note: Pontoon boat rides may not be offered right now.]

Pohick Bay Regional Park
Where: Lorton, VA
When: March  – October
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 late May, but daily after that until early September (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.

Fountainhead Regional Park
Where: Lorton, VA
When: March  – October
Rates: Vary by vessel (see website)

Fountainhead is well known for its mountain biking and hiking, and with the Occoquan Reservoir there, paddling is another active way to enjoy time there. Kayak and canoe rentals are available, as are jon boats if you want to do some fishing. We’ve only ridden and hiked there, so paddling is the plan for our next visit. Read more about Faountain in this KFDC post.

Quiet Waters Park
Where: Annapolis, MD
When: April through October
Rates: Starting at $25/hour + $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 $195/two hours

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 | $12/hour or $24/2 hours
2 Person Pedal Boats | $12/hour or $24/2 hours
1 or 2 Person Kayaks | $12/hour or $24/2 hours
4 Person Pedal Boats | $12/hour or $40/4 hours

River Riders
Where: Harpers Ferry, WV
When: Memorial Day – Labor Day, 8am – 6pm & Spring/Fall, 9am – 5pm
Rates: Starts 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.



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