Kayaking in Lexington Park

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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

When Pete and Kate Vonderheide moved from Hawaii to Annapolis to live closer to their family, they thought they'd have to give up a career of ocean kayaking to resume responsible office jobs. Soon they recognized the historic city harbor's lack of kayak tours and knew they couldn't stay inside forever. Their shared passion for history spurred them to research and interview the locals until they'd compiled enough historic material to start leading tours. Today, their tours can teach something new even to locals.

The Vonderheides continue to assemble a team of outdoor guides certified in CPR and first aid who all bear a well-researched knowledge of area wildlife and history. These experts lead two-hour scenic tours through the historic harbor. Starting each excursion with a brief paddling lesson, they put first-timers at ease with basic instruction and an amiable demeanor, unlike guides who rely only on their convincing Captain Ahab impressions. Excursions begin at the Spa Creek headwaters in Truxtun Park and lead participants into open-harbor waters to drift in full view of the state capitol building, the US Naval Academy, and historic Eastport. Trips peak at the City Dock, where participants receive a break to take photos and rest. On the return trip, guides field open-ended questions about city history such as presidential visits, the crabbing and oystering trade, and whether George Washington had to swim using floaties.

1103 Primrose Court
Annapolis,
MD
US

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

Terrapin Adventures never fails to live up to its name—even their swing set gets the stomach fluttering with excitement. To be fair, though, the swing in question is anything but the traditional apparatus you'd find at a city park. It seats three people and starts its trajectory 40 feet above the ground, generating 2Gs of force as it swishes riders back and forth over the landscape. The park's other attractions are equally exhilarating. On the high ropes course, visitors attached to sturdy safety harnesses cross 18 traverses situated between lofty platforms; some must be tackled via a rickety bridge, while others require leaps of faith. The 43-foot high climbing tower offers 10 routes up and down, including a head-first downward climb over the Rainbow Serpent. Otherwise, the 330-foot-long zipline sends visitors gliding through the treetops at speeds of up to 20 mph, fast enough to beat the USA track team's star squirrel.

8600 Foundry St.
Savage,
MD
US