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.
River & Trail Outfitters owners Lee and Eunsook Baihly have been acquainting customers with the area's natural beauty since 1972. Their outdoor-exploration company's more than 70 friendly staffers accompany customers on relaxed, informative rafting, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and tubing excursions. In addition to having mastered river- and boat-safety skills, staff members are experienced in first aid, CPR, and the correct way to ask dolphins for directions. River & Trail Outfitters also accommodates businesses, organizing team-building events and rock wall rentals or hiking trips. The Baihlys' environmental commitment extends to an in-house recycling program and river clean-ups.
Departing from Southwest Waterfront, a boat skipper begins another journey down the calm, flat waters of the Potomac River. The multi-decked boats, such as the Patriot II catamaran, power DC Harbor Cruises's daily tours of the capital's famous waterway. The tour crafts are furnished with bars, snacks, full audio systems, and plush seating for sightseers to enjoy as they drift along the Potomac's smooth waters and collect eyefuls of national treasures. Guests can admire the imposing Capitol Building and whisper about how silly the Washington Monument looks without its powdered wig. The Coast Guard–certified staff points out other notable visuals such as the National Cathedral's stately towers, the Pentagon, and Fort McNair.
Recently celebrating 20 years of delighting passengers, the maritime crew at Capitol City Tours supplies a memorable yet speedy method of taking in Washington, DC's historical highlights. The crew whisks new passengers away from Washington Harbor every hour on afternoon boat tours that navigate the famous Potomac River. Two tour vessels, the Nightingale and his son, Nightingale II, house refreshments as guides supply historically astute narration. Their narration, combined with the unobstructed views granted by the Potomac, create an illuminating way to explore sites such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and US Capitol.
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.
Capital Yacht Charters' fleet of luxury yachts cruises DC's waterways for corporate parties, sightseeing tours, and special events. Cruises such as Salsa Night or Rhythmic Jazz Series leisurely motor along the Potomac River, affording guests the chance to ogle the capital's most famous sights. Each of their luxury yachts is climate-controlled, has restrooms, and also comes equipped with a full bar with snacks for munching.