5 Places to Pedal Boat (and See Some Cool Things Along the Way)


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There’s more to pedal boating than pumping those legs to get you and the kids from point A to point B. Sure, you may be paying for this ride by the half hour, but it’s totally worth it to take a moment to stop and look around. The district boasts some of the coolest pedaling spots (we’re looking at you Lake Needwood!). And whether your little one is into monuments or turtle chasing, there’s a pedal boat ride just for them.

Photo: Tidal Basin Paddle Boats

For the Monument Enthusiast: Tidal Basin Paddle Boats
Been meaning to get a photo of your kiddo in front of his or her favorite memorial building, but just can’t bring yourself to join the sea of tourists? Hop on one of the pedal boats that ride through the Tidal Basin for a unique (crowd-free) view of the Washington and Jefferson Memorials.

When to go: Sun. – Sat., 10 am – 6 pm
How much: $18 per hour for a two-passenger boat; $30 per hour for a four-passenger boat; $34/hour for two-passenger SWAN boat
1501 Maine Ave., SW (Tidal Basin)
Online: Tidalbasinpaddleboats.com

For the Peace Keeper: Centennial Park Boat Rentals
Centennial Park is as peaceful as it is carefully landscaped and maintained. The 325-acre park is more suburban getaway than untamed wilderness, but then again, pedal boats aren’t exactly white water kayaks.

When to go: Mid-April – mid-October: Mon. – Fri., 11 am – 6 pm and Sat. – Sun., 11 am – 6 pm; In summer: Sat. – Sun., 9 am – 7 pm
How much: 2- or 4-Seat Paddle Boat (fee per half hour):  $15 for Howard County residents, $17 non-resident
9801 Old Annapolis Rd. (Ellicott City, Md)
Online: howardcountymd.gov

For the Nature Lover: Lake Needwood Boats
Lake Needwood is a bit more on the wild side, with dirt trails cutting through the woods and wildlife popping up everywhere you look. This is a fun place for a paddle, since you’re kiddos are sure to spot birds, fish, and even turtles at every turn.

When to go: May – Sept.: Mon., 9 am – 2 pm; Wed. – Thurs. 12 pm – 5:30 pm, Fri. – Sun. 6:30 am – 6 pm
How much: $11-$12 per half hour for a two- or four-passenger boat
15700 Needwood Lake Cir. (Rockville, Md)
Online: Montgomeryparks.org

For the History Buff: Bladensburg Waterfront Park
Snag a pedal boat from the spot on the Anacostia River where the docks of Bladensburg were erected in 1742. Some of the historic stores and taverns surrounding the docks still stand, such as the George Washington House tavern, the Market Master’s House, and Free Hope Baptist Church. When the kids are tuckered out, swing by the nearby Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center for a quick history lesson.

When to go: May – Oct.: Mon. – Fri. 9 am – 3 pm; Sat. – Sun., 10 am – 5 pm
How much: Resident: $10-$13 per hour; $25-$33 per day
4601 Annapolis Rd. (Bladensburg, Md)
Online: Pgparks.com

For the City Kid: Lake Accotink Park
As one of the largest lakes this close to DC, Lake Accotink is a choice retreat for city dwellers looking to escape the concrete jungle. Located just beyond the Beltway, the 493-acre park has even more going on, including a carousel, mini-golf, and tour-boat rides. Make a day of it!

When to go: June – Sept.: Weekends and holidays 11 am – 8 pm; Mon – Thurs 12 pm – 6 pm; Fri 12 pm – 8 pm
How much: $10-$11 per hour or $6-$7 per half-hour
7500 Accotink Park Rd. (Springfield, Va)
Online: Fairfaxcounty.gov

Have you been pedal boating with your kids? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

—Ayren Jackson-Cannady

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