Some people might think of the White House as the heart of the Washington, DC region. However, to Active Nature's guides, the region's heart is the rushing Potomac River and its surrounding parks. It's where they teach paddle sports such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
The team draws from diverse backgrounds—some have even paddled in the Olympics for the U.S. and other countries—but they all believe that anyone can learn to paddle. The keys, which they emphasize whether they're training newbies or Active Nature's competitive paddling team, never change: technical skill, confidence, and river knowledge. (The latter means not just navigating the river adeptly, but treating it well, with sustainability in mind.)
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.
Standup paddleboarding is a unique, hands-on way to explore local waterways. But that's not the only reason to try it. Read on to find out more about Paddle Nova's tours, classes, and instructors:
The tours set out from five different NOVA Parks locations. Most spots are perfectly beginner friendly, but some, such as the Point of Rocks tour, feature moderate currents better suited to those with a little paddling experience.
A tour isn't the only way to enjoy SUP. Paddle Nova also offers yoga classes, barre fitness, and kids' camps that all incorporate standup paddleboarding.
All the instructors are certified in CPR and First Aid.
Reservations/Appointments: Not required
Staff Size: 2–4 people
Average Duration of Services: 1–2 hours
Pro Tip: Come ready for adventure and fun. Make sure you bring clothes that you don't mind getting wet.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: River Tours
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
With a name that means "where the paths cross," it's no surprise that Calleva is dedicated to bringing people of all ages and from all walks of life together to appreciate the outdoors. The certified MAEOE environmental center helps its guests dive into the heart of the wilderness right outside D.C. and raise awareness about its delicate ecosystems. In doing so, it encourages others to cooperate and take risks while stepping out of their comfort zones, like baby birds leaving the nest to start their own nest-building business.
To facilitate these efforts, a team of ACA-certified guides helms seasonal outdoor-adventure and educational programs. In warm weather, activities might include kayaking and canoeing down winding stretches of the Potomac River or paddling to a private island filled with ropes-challenge courses and other obstacles. Fishing and ecological-study programs present even more varied ways to explore the water. Other adventures include the year-round, such as backpacking; the cold weather, such as caving; and the whimsical, such as the annual haunted forest where ghosts and ghouls mingle under a zip-line course.
Ride the coasters with the whole family at Cabin John's Liquid Adventures.
Looking for a bite to eat? This park also has an awesome restaurant.
The perfect place to take the kids, this park won't cost you a sitter.
Parking is plentiful, so patrons can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Set sail on a relaxing boat trip this weekend with Fletcher's Boathouse in Washington.
Check out this center's restaurant, where you can stay for lunch or grab your meal to go.
Let the kids come too! Little ones love the activities at this center just as much as their parents do.
Parking is plentiful, so guests can feel free to bring their vehicles.