Get Up Some Speed
Zip along the Potomac in a two-person catamaran—at speeds up to 25 miles an hour—on a guided tour with Monumental Boat Tours. Excursions leave from National Harbor and go either to Mount Vernon ($120 a person) or around DC’s landmarks ($150).
Enjoy The Views
If it’s eyefuls of monuments you’re after, another option is an outing with Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown. Among the offerings: a SUP monument tour ($65), a sunset monument tour by kayak ($65), and SUP yoga ($45). Or rent your own kayak, double kayak, canoe, or SUP and paddle at your own pace.
On Potomac Paddlesports’ guided trip, Discover the Potomac ($98), you’ll kayak around islands and along a lushly canopied section of Muddy Branch creek where the air is typically ten degrees cooler than what surrounds it. You may see painted turtles, bald eagles, and, if the water is clear, freshwater mussels.
Jug Bay Natural Area at Patuxent River Park has been dubbed an “important birding area” by the National Audubon Society, so it’s no surprise you can see birds galore, as well as otters, turtles, beavers, and other wildlife. Rent a canoe or kayak, or take a pontoon tour, to see one of Maryland’s most scenic waterways.
Picnic on a Boat
Pack a meal and head to the Wharf, where Float DC rents 18-foot electric picnic boats with table seating for up to eight. Rentals start at $150 an hour for up to three hours, and the vessels—with a top speed of five miles an hour—come with a cooler, a Bluetooth audio system, and safety equipment.
Explore the Anacostia
The marina at Bladensburg Waterfront Park rents kayaks and canoes for exploring a calm, scenic stretch of the Anacostia River. Or gather a group of up to ten for a free one-hour Anacostia River Explorers tour from the Yards Marina or Anacostia Park. The tours are funded by DC’s disposable-bag fee. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sail on a Tall Ship
Interpreters in period dress—including a Captain John Paul Jones—await on the Providence, a reproduction 18th-century sloop in Old Town. Landlubbers can tour the docked vessel and hear sea tales ($12 to $16). Or set off on a two-hour public sail ($45 or $55), a craft-beer voyage ($59), or a boozier cruise with rum, bourbon, or wine ($69).
(This article appears in the July 2021 issue of Washingtonian.)