Tag Archives: Boating in DC

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 | $28/hour
Single kayak | $18/hour
Double kayak | $25/hour
Rowboats | $28/hour
Stand-Up Paddleboard | $22/hour
4-Person Pedal Boat | $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: $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.

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/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: $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 | $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: 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.



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

Boat Club Membership for Sale


KFDC readers who are getting ready to move from the area are looking for another family to take over their boat club membership. Here’s their ad with details:

Looking for a really outstanding activity to do regularly with your kids and still enjoy yourself? How about a reduced-price boat club membership that you can use to take out any one of several boats in the area? The membership operates similarly to Zipcar, but with a set monthly fee for boating, giving you the freedom to operate a boat you don’t own or have to care for in any one of three locations in Washington, DC, Virginia, or Maryland.

Most boat club memberships involve a hefty upfront initiation fee, which in this case our family has already paid. We are looking to transfer the ownership on the three remaining years of our 5 membership commitment, without the initiation fee, starting in mid-September, and in doing so you would only be responsible for the ongoing monthly fee (with upfront payment required for the first year). That is a REALLY good deal as the initiation fee is usually several thousand dollars. See the Carefree Boat Club website for more information and background.

This opportunity is only available to one family. If you are interested, please contact Sachin Agarwal at sachina@yahoo.com

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Filed under DC, For Sale, Maryland, Virginia

Make a Family Day of it at National Harbor this Summer


We’ve been to National Harbor several times since it opened back in 2008. The waterfront destination on the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, Md, hosts annual holiday events, was home to the National Children’s Museum for awhile, and has become a destination for many touring shows — all of which have brought us there at different times. But, aside from a water taxi adventure a few years ago, we’d never really gone to hang out and and enjoy the ongoing activities and attractions.


That changed recently when we were invited to spend a day there to get the fuller National Harbor experience. We were especially excited about going for a spin on the Capital Wheel, since we hadn’t yet been, and it’s a unique pursuit in the area (it’s covered here on KFDC, but in a guest post by a friend). I was also really interested to see what a day there would be like, since previously we’d always gone with a specific event to attend.


Once we arrived there and got our bearings about us, we didn’t waste any time heading for what we’d been anticipating most: The Capital Wheel. How cool to ride 180 feet in the air over the Potomac, taking in views of the DC skyline and the Harbor scene below! Even in gray, hazy weather, we could see the Washington Monument across the river and enjoy the open vistas around us. The whole ride lasted about 15 minutes, then we were ready to eat and explore some more.


We were set up with lunch at Potbelly, but there are over 30 dining options at National Harbor, everything from quick eateries to nicer restaurants. A bunch are located around the Plaza, convenient to most of the big attractions, and others are an easy stroll away.



After lunch, we stopped in the Peeps store, where the kids indulged in some samples before heading down to The Awakening. If you’ve been in DC awhile, you probably remember the massive sculpture of the giant emerging from the ground at Hains Point. The striking work (or works, since it’s in several parts) now resides at National Harbor, the enormous man surfacing on a sandy beach along the Potomac. Visitors are welcome to climb and play on it, and Owen and Sasha had a blast crawling around his head and scaling his huge foot.



It was time for some fun on the water after that; our invitation included a rental from Boating in DC. They have kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and pedal boats, and we opted for the boat, so we could all go together (kids need to be at least 8 to kayak or paddleboard solo, and Sasha is only 6). The pedal boats are cute, shaped like dragons and swans. It was quick and easy to get one, and we were soon out on the water, drifting around and taking in cool views of the Capital Wheel and surrounds.



Back on land, the kids were ready for a spin on The Carousel, which features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7 for each rider, which sounds like a lot, BUT they can ride an unlimited number of times. I don’t know about your kids, but mine always beg to go again (and again), so this actually kind of seems like a deal. Right next to the carousel on one side are tables where parents can sit and relax while their kids ride (if they are old enough to go solo). And on the other side is a playground, so you can easily move right on to more fun. We skipped the playground, instead making our way to SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier for gelato and some sweet treats to bring home.



There’s even more to do at National Harbor — lots of shopping, a farmer’s market, free movies and sports viewing on a Jumbotron in the Plaza, and water taxi rides to Old Town among them. But a good four hours after beginning our National Harbor experience, we decided to call it a day — a fun one, at that!



Ready to make a day of it at National Harbor? Here are some details to help you plan:

* The Capital Wheel is open daily from 10am – 11pm. Tickets are $15/ages 12-60, $13.75/ages 60+, $11.25/ages 3-11, free for 2 and under.

* Boating in DC is open 11am – 7:30pm weekdays & 9am – 7:30pm weekends through Labor Day, then 11am – 6:30pm Wednesday – Friday & 9am – 6:30pm weekends through October 4. Rentals are $30/pedal boat, $15/single kayak, $20/double kayak, $20/paddleboard.  Note: The 2021 season begins in May.

* The Carousel is open daily, 12-8pm, starting March 27, 2021.  Unlimited rides are $7.

* National Harbor sponsored our experience, however, there are activities available at all price points.

* For more information about National Harbor attractions, visit the website.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by National Harbor, however, I only promote programs, events, and services that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers, and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.



Filed under All ages, Art, Eats, Maryland, Outdoor, Play, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Rowin’ on the River at Fletcher’s Cove


Even though it’s an activity you can enjoy during several seasons, paddling feels quintessentially “summer” to me. That’s probably because of the many years I spent at sleep away camp as a kid, where canoeing and kayaking were practically everyday pursuits. So, last weekend when we had a sunny day, and it wasn’t too hot, I suggested we go for a jaunt on the river and have some “summer” fun.

The kids were thrilled about the idea, and since Owen was getting excited to embark on a couple of weeks of bike camp the following Monday, we decided a ride to Fletcher’s Cove, where we could rent canoes at the Boathouse, would make it a perfect outing. That’s one of our go-to family bike rides — from Capitol Hill we ride down the Mall, then along the Potomac to Georgetown, where we hop on the Capital Crescent Trail along the C&O Canal. Fletcher’s is about two miles from there between the Potomac and canal.



We usually just ride to Fletcher’s and make that our turn around/hang out spot before heading back home, often stopping in Georgetown for fountain play or food. There’s a lot of open grassy space where we can chill out and cool off, maybe even toss a Frisbee; a water fountain to refill our bottles; and a snack bar to get a drink or a small bite if we’re hungry. But if one is looking for extra recreation — there are bike and boat rentals, picnic tables and grills, and a tackle shack selling bait and fishing licenses for anglers. You can really make a day of it there.


If you want to hit the water, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and rowboats are available to rent. We had planned to get a canoe, but were told there was a max of three people, so we opted for a rowboat instead (however, a friend went this past weekend, and her family of four was allowed to take a canoe, perhaps because her youngest is smaller than Sasha).



Once we got our life jackets, we headed down to the dock and were set up with our rowboat, then made our way out of the cove to the middle of the river. It was glorious being out on the water, taking in scenic views of the Potomac and surrounding woods from the comfort of our little boat. Other paddlers glided by, and everyone seemed to be in the same relaxed, happy mood as us. The kids loved seeing a few turtles basking on rocks as well as a couple of dead fish floating in the water. We watched a group of kids having fun on a rope swing hanging from a tree on the Virginia side.




Levi did most of the rowing, since I proved to be really uncoordinated at it (so weird — I can usually pick up things pretty easily, but alas…). But the kids enjoyed pitching in on the rowing, too. Since we only rented the boat for an hour, we didn’t go too far down the river, but what we did experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Next time, though, we’ll probably opt for double kayaks and rent them for the day, so we can do even more exploring.




Fletcher’s Boathouse is open from 7am – 7pm daily mid-March through Octboer. Canoe rentals are $14/hour or $28/day. Kayaks are $11/hour or $33/day for a single and $20/hour or $45/day for a double. Rowboats are $14/hour or $25/day. Update: See the most recent rates for all paddling options on the website.

Fletcher’s Boathouse is located at 4940 Canal Road NW. I highly recommend the bike ride there, but if you drive, there is parking available in a large lot there.



Filed under All ages, DC, Fall, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Sports, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend