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12 Amazing Boating Experiences You Need to Try on the Water in Washington, DC

The best boating and on the water experiences in and around Washington, DC - Fourth of July fireworks over the Potomac River and National Mall

Hop into the water vessel of your choice and prepare to discover a new side of the nation's capital.

As exciting waterfront destinations pull more visitors and locals closer and closer to the river, you might be surprised to know what’s waiting just beyond DC's shoreline. The area’s top boating and tour companies provide plenty of unique experiences on the water and there’s never been a better time to seek an off-land escape on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.

1 Skip the traffic — reach your destination on a water taxi!

@snapsbyeduardo - Potomac Riverboat water taxi on the Potomac River near the Kennedy Center and Georgetown

The expansion of Potomac Riverboat Company’s water taxi service brings more connectivity to the waterfront than ever. From March through December, you can hop on or hop off at any docking in Alexandria, Georgetown, The Wharf, National Harbor or National Mall. Passes start at $10 and an annual pass grants guests unlimited departures all season for just $175.

2 Discover Washington’s monuments from a whole new perspective

Woman taking photo of Washington Monument from Entertainment Cruises boat - Boating activities on the water in Washington, DC

From upscale and casual dining cruises to traditional waterfront sightseeing, one thing you can be sure of with any experience on this list is a view like nothing you’ll find on land.

Waterfronts in and around Washington, DC - Riverside attractions, restaurants, boat cruises, tours and more things to do

3 Cap off the weekend with a Sunday brunch cruise (and bottomless mimosas)

Bottomless mimosa brunch on Entertainment Cruises - Dinner and dining cruises in Washington, DC

With a variety of year-round dining cruises to choose from, Odyssey’s bottomless mimosa brunch is not to be missed. Two hours aboard the stunning fully glass-enclosed vessel will leave you speechless.

4 Pin a stunning waterfront backdrop on a big day

Private boat rentals and excursions in and around Washington, DC - Best boating activities in DC

Have something really big to celebrate this year? A birthday? Anniversary? A graduation? The perfect venue might just be a boat! If you want to plan an epic celebration on your own private yacht, book an Elite Private Yacht via Hornblower Cruises or a MD Yacht Charters excursion. Potomac Riverboat Company also helps you charter the perfect party boat, with plenty of options.

5 Embark on a privately captained, six-seater speed boat

Private boat cruises from Embark DC - The best boat tours, rentals and charters in Washington, DC

One of the more unique ways to get out on the water, Embark DC boat cruises start at $375 per hour. Cruise captains are able to provide a narrated tour and they’ll happily accommodate any fishing, sightseeing, picnicking or custom-created adventure – that includes taking you wherever you want to go, from Mount Vernon to Old Town Alexandria to The Yards and more.

6 Visit a treasured national landmark and stay for a historical tour

Spirit of Mount Vernon boat cruise to George Washington's Mount Vernon - The best boating experiences in and around Washington, DC

Spirit Cruises and Potomac Riverboat Company both offer excursions to George Washington's Mount Vernon, March through October, with different experience options. Both include admission to the estate in your ticket price, and Spirit of Mount Vernon has the only roundtrip Mount Vernon cruise from The Wharf.

7 Take your pup on a joy ride around the Alexandria Seaport

Potomac Riverboat Company dog-friendly boat cruises in Alexandria - Boating experiences and transportation in and around Washington, DC

Seaport cruises are a highlight of the warmer months, usually beginning in May and running through the start of fall. The route promises views of Old Town Alexandria, Founders Park, Jones Point Lighthouse and more, and select dates welcome dogs aboard for free!

8 Sound the boat horn for the greatest Fourth of July fireworks show

Fourth of July Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial - Things to Do Independence Day Weekend in Washington, DC

There’s a reason catching the fireworks aboard a boat is among the top places to catch the Fourth of July fireworks. Fourth of July dinner cruises on Odyssey and Spirit of Washington book months in advance, and with good reason. No vantage point in the city can really match the panoramic display you’ll find on the water.

9 Get active in a kayak, paddleboat or paddleboard

Friends boating and paddleboarding on the Anacostia River - Discover the real Washington, DC

The Washington, DC area is full of fun water activities. Rent a kayak at any of the Boating in DC locations: Ballpark Boathouse in Capitol Riverfront, National Harbor, The Wharf Boathouse and Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown. The latter two options also conduct yoga classes on stand-up paddleboards. Learn how to row or scull at the Thompson Boat Center, located on the Potomac River near Georgetown or climb aboard a pedal boat in the Tidal Basin for a one-of-a-kind view of the monuments and memorials.

10 Hop aboard an amphibious vehicle and see the sights by land and river

DC Ducks water tours - Duck tour boat on the Potomac River in Washington, DC

The only 90-minute land-and-sea tour, DC Ducks offer exciting family-friendly, narrated excursions. Tours kick off at Union Station for an on-the-Mall tour, which culminates with a ride across the Arlington National Bridge. Then, get ready for the on-the-water portion of your adventure, including a big splash into the Potomac River. The journey ends near Reagan National Airport, where (duck!) planes fly overhead. Tickets start at $33.

11 Rock out on the river on a Saturday night DC Cruises’ party boat

DC Cruises sunset boat tour - The best boating activities in Washington, DC

Known for its affordable, 100-person weekend boat tours, DC Cruises offers up one of the most unique ways to get down. Hit the dance floor on a DJ Party Cruise and request your favorite songs (Come Sail Away, anyone?). The cruise runs from 9 p.m. to midnight, but don’t fret – if you can’t find your sea legs, you can always chill in the Below Lounge. Tickets start at $26.

12 Paddle the Potomac on a booze cruise

Guests on the Potomac Paddle Pub boat in Georgetown - Things to do on the Georgetown waterfront in DC

Potomac Paddle Pub is rain-or-shine pedal boat that accommodates up to 16 people and has 10 pedal stations for its hour-and-a-half voyages. Good to know: You can turn your aquatic spin class into a booze cruise with the BYOB policy – the vessel provides ice, coolers and cup holders. There is also a motor on board in case your legs grow too tired as you cruise down the Potomac. Individual seats can only be purchased Monday through Thursday, and group trips can be purchased on Fridays through Sundays. Once you book your trip, you can embark on your journey from the Georgetown Docks near The Washington Harbour.

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