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12 Amazing Boating Experiences You Need to Try on the Water in Washington, DC
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.
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.
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.
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 Entertainment Cruises or a MD Yacht Charters excursion. Potomac Riverboat Company also helps you charter the perfect party boat, with plenty of options.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.