Kayaking in Baileys Crossroads

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Although locals may still call it Jack’s Boathouse, Key Bridge Boathouse is now the official name of this river recreation facility, which rents all manner of water-bound equipment by the hour or day. Located right on the Potomac River, this little hut on Water Street in Lower Georgetown can’t be missed, thanks to the bevy of colorful and easy-to-spot watercrafts lined up outside. Key Bridge Boathouse rents canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards as well as the needed accoutrements to outfit adults and kiddos alike. Instructors in each discipline also regularly lead newbie classes and serve as guides for tours that run during the summer months.

3500 K St NW
Washington,
DC
US

While the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal runs along much of the Potomac River, from the District of Columbia out to Cumberland, Maryland (a distance of more than 180 miles), Washingtonians are most familiar with the portion between Georgetown and the Maryland border. This section of the C&O Canal, which opened around 1830, is quite quaint, meandering between 19th-century townhouses and updated office buildings. As you head out of Georgetown, the towpath runs parallel to the C&O Canal, making it perfect for hikers, bikers and early-morning runners. While the mule-drawn canal boat ride is no longer available in Georgetown, you can ride it in Great Falls between April and October, with National Park rangers dressed in period clothing serving as tour guides, providing perspective on life along the canal.

1057 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington,
DC
US

Sound Excursions describes their carefully curated group experiences as "field trips for adults." It's easy to see why: every outing takes groups to a new realm of Washington, whether it's the frothy shores of Puget Sound, inland forests and mountains, or tables at Seattle's thriving restaurants. The events held at these diverse locations range from culinary workshops on topics such as sushi-making and moonshine-tasting, to adventurous excursions with whitewater rafting or kayaking, to laid-back themed party cruises. For many outings, luxury transportation is provided.

1801 Parkside Drive NW
Washington,
DC
US

Calleva at National Harbor organizes adventures that traverse land, water, and air, each designed to inspire the intrepid with the bounties of nature. A terra-based encounter, the guided bike ride over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Mount Vernon Trail combines the thrill of physical activity with the wonder of american bald eagle and bald presidential monument sightings. From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekends, pedal pumpers are treated to panoramic views of the Potomac River. If the allure of the deep overcomes grounded wanderings, embark on a watery outing in a solo kayak, canoe, or tandem kayak, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. After a mind-stretching lesson on paddling and water safety, boat brethren can drift through the National Harbor in their floating vessels and explore the shores of the District and Alexandria, stopping occasionally to feed breadcrumbs to migrating politicians.

160 National Plaza
Oxon Hill,
MD
US

Since 1956, Valley Mill Kayak School has trained countless kayakers, including the first kayaking recipients of Olympic medals, on the deep waters of the Potomac River. A former Olympian and four-time freestyle-kayaking world champion, Eric Jackson personally designs the school's lesson plans around modern whitewater-paddling techniques. Eric trains each of the school's American Canoe Association–certified instructors, who, in turn, dispense their knowledge to beginners and proficient paddlers alike.

Through a wealth of small classes, private lessons, and occasional clinics taught by Eric himself, pupils discover such skills as paddling and basic strokes, or attempting to work your kayak into rhythmic-gymnastics routines.

10801 MacArthur Boulevard
Potomac,
MD
US

At Potomac Paddlesports, the first professional paddlesports school to be endorsed by the American Canoe Association, the team of American Canoe Association– and British Canoe Union–certified instructors patiently lead students through a methodical progression of flat-water paddling skills. The classes cover a variety of watersports, including whitewater rafting, river and sea kayaking, and standup paddling. The small-group classes are designed to keep students engaged, and longer trips down the Potomac challenge their skills with powerful rapids surrounded by lush scenery, interspersed with rare glimpses of bears putting on their bear suits. Outside of class, students can bond with fellow paddlers during weekly sushi meals and occasional movie nights. Further demonstrating their dedication to bodies of water, Potomac Paddlesports works to preserve the nation’s rivers, estuaries, and oceans, sharing this passion with its members through advocacy and donations to conservation programs.

11917 Maple Ave
Rockville,
MD
US