The Ultimate Guide to Water Activities Near DC

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As summer heats up in a big way, we’re all ready for a little more time on the water. The DMV offers tons of options to get out and enjoy splashing and paddling around. It’s the perfect time to jump off the shore and into a sea-worthy adventure. From a pirate-themed tour of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to a lazy float down the Potomac River, get ready to set sail with one of these fun-filled water activities.

Picnic on the Water

Pack up your picnic basket or grab a picnic to-go from a local restaurant, and you're ready to enjoy your meal on the water. Float DC offers rentals that are 100% electric, Scandinavian designed, picnic boats for up to 8 people. You won't want to miss this eco-friendly way to enjoy the beautiful waterways at The Wharf, DC. You don't need a guide for this one. Anyone over 21 years of age can captain their own boat.


A Pirate Adventure

If it is time to walk the plank, get to National Harbor for Urban Pirates cruises. Families should plan to arrive early for approximately 30 minutes of boarding activities, including pirate costuming and naming. In addition, the Boomerang Pirate Ship's Family Treasure Hunt cruise departing from Georgetown features a water cannon battle at sea.

Boomerang Pirate Ship-
Urban Pirates-

Land and Sea

Why settle for just one when you can explore both with your crew? First, sail along the river with Potomac Riverboat Company. Capture tons of family-friendly photos ops in front of the perfect memorial backdrops, including the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol. Then, dock at George and Martha Washington's home, Mt. Vernon and spend a few hours exploring the historic house and property.


Hop on a Tube

There's no better way to beat the heat than to hop on an inner tube and float down the river. Young and old alike will love the flat water tubing experience. Tubes and river shuttles are provided, and you can even rent floating coolers so you can keep snacks and drinks alongside as you float down the river. Because we all know snacks are a must with little ones in tow.


photo: iStock

Jump in a Kayak

Skip the heat altogether, and rent a kayak for a sunset-drenched paddle on the Potomac. The scenic beauty and wildlife are even more spectacular during the evening hours. No experience needed, just grab a paddle and plan to float peacefully down the gentle rapids. After you finish your sunset splash, you can stick around for a bonfire with your guides.


Sail on a Schooner

Departing from the Gangplank Marina in SW Washington DC, DC Sail provides sailing opportunities on its 65-foot schooner, the American Spirit, including cherry blossom cruises, sunset sails, boating & baseball excursions, and July 4th fireworks cruises. The wheelchair-accessible boat is a floating classroom and adventure all wrapped into one. Make incredible memories aboard this unique and relaxing vessel.


Stand up on a Paddleboard

Stunning views of the Potomac River await National Harbor paddlers in Prince George's County. Go to Boating in DC's boathouse to rent a paddleboard by the hour. No experience is needed as they provide a quick lesson before you head out on the water. Rentals include a life jacket and paddle. Wait until sunset to see the Capital Wheel lighting up the sky.


—Angelica Kajiwara

featured photo: Toddlin’ Across America


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