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.
The trio of seasoned tour guides understands that being a guide is more than just being able to carry a microphone and CDL driver’s license with style. Being a guide is a great responsibility; it means safeguarding history and passing its great secrets and wisdoms on to others. Whether visiting DC’s iconic structures and memorials in the daylight or evening, they passionately share the stories of the individuals, ideals, and food-based dares that shaped the United States into what it is today. Fueled by the realization that planning a trip to the nation’s capital may be a once in a lifetime experience for some people, they put extra effort into ensuring that experience is as memorable as possible, leading all of their tours in a luxurious 2012 Mercedes bus.
If there's one word to describe the success of Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, it's persistence. Owner and winemaker Lew Parker planted the first vines on what is now Willowcroft's home vineyard in 1980, but they didn't grow. They died. Doubt about the feasibility of the project came from everywhere, including the Virginia Extension Service. Lew planted anyway, and in 1981 he grew his first cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and chardonnay grapes. Today, through Lew's hard work and horticultural innovation, Willowcroft bottles 14 different varietals from reds such as the merlot and cabernet franc to whites such as the chardonnay or muscat-ottonel.
Willowcroft's wines maintain a crisp, clean flavor due to the winery's sustainable dry farming, and have garnered a litany of awards since their first vintages in 1984. However, the wine isn't the only draw to the winery. Located atop Catoctin Ridge, panoramic views unfurl from the winery's tasting barn and open terraces, where visitors can enjoy cheese and wine purchased onsite.
Named for its location at the western end of the W&OD Trail, Trail's End Cycling Co welcomes cyclists of all stripes with a hefty inventory of gear and bikes alongside mechanical services. Each of the store's experienced staffers is also a mechanic qualified to fit bikes to riders' proportions or the gaudiness of racing stripes to their egos. When not training for the bicycle Iditarod, lead mechanic James Hodges channels 20 years of bike-industry experience into his tune-up tasks, and pro wrencher Bill McCarrick specializes in triathlete bike repair and prep.
The same able staffers also lead custom tours of wineries, fall foliage, and other seasonal sights in warm weather. During the winter, riders can pedal out of hibernation with indoor training rides atop their own bikes, which are secured on special mounts to keep them from zipping away.
Swedenburg is located on historic Valley View Farm, which dates back to 1762 and still has a slight fondness for powdered wigs. The vineyard itself was planted by the Swedenburg family in the 1980s, more than 200 years after the farmland was originally cultivated. Today, the family still lives in the original, Colonial-era "Patent House," a testament to the farm's long history. When you pay a visit to Swedenburg, be prepared for hospitality befitting the landscape and Old World values. Weather permitting, picnic tables with umbrellas are set up for a relaxing wine tasting amid the bucolic splendor. Sample the six wines the vineyard produces, including Riesling with green-apple notes, the dark, oak-berry richness of pinot noir, and a semi-dry rosé for middle-ground wine balance.