"All paddling, no politics" is the motto of Boating In DC. Instead of arguing about which Supreme Court justice's robe is the most stylish, guests can explore the Potomac via kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or pedal boat. During solo-adventures, tours, and introductory lessons, customers take in sights such as Smoot's Cove, Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the Old Town Alexandria skyline, and the National Harbor waterfront. Dogs are also welcome board as Boating In DC stocks Fido-sized life jackets. They've also got yoga classes that take place on paddleboards, and the river makes a convenient spot to rinse off for those who are running late to their Cabinet-nomination hearings.
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.
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.
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.
There's a Virginia outdoorsman who's been called the "Penguin" for most of his life, due to his short, stocky stature. Rather than let that nickname defeat him, he used it as the inspiration for his touring and rental company, Penguin Paddling LLC. Today, when he isn't fighting fires or working as a paramedic, The Penguin leads guests out onto the water for adventures via kayak and stand-up paddleboard, going all the places that motor-powered craft cannot.
Some tours send guests down the Potomac River and along the DC waterfront, passing sites such as historic Georgetown, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Center. Alternatively, trips down the protected Neabsco Creek may bring paddlers face-to-face with native wildlife or vigilante hero, Kayak Cop. This secluded waterway is also the setting for the company's fishing trips and on-water yoga classes. In addition to tours, Penguin Paddling LLC provides half- and full-day rentals from its facility at Hampton’s Landing Marina, which lies adjacent to several national and state-protected wilderness areas.
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.