Boating and Sailing in Washington, D.C.


Boating and Sailing

More Sports and Activities

The Chesapeake Bay is one of the great sailing basins of the world. For scenic and historical sightseeing, take a day trip to Annapolis, Maryland, the home of the U.S. Naval Academy. The popularity of boating and the many boating businesses in Annapolis make it one of the best civilian sailing centers on the East Coast.

Mather Gorge. Some of the best white-water kayakers and canoeists in the country call Washington home. On weekends they practice below Great Falls in Mather Gorge, a canyon carved by the Potomac River just north of the city, above Chain Bridge. The water is deceptive and dangerous—only top-level kayakers should consider a run here. Watch the experts at play from a post above the gorge. Great Falls Park, 9200 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, VA, 22102. 703/285–2965 in Virginia; 301/299–3613 in Maryland.

Potomac River. Canoeing, sailing, and powerboating are popular in the Washington, D.C. area. Several places rent boats along the Potomac River north and south of the city. You can dip your paddle just about anywhere along the river—go canoeing in the C&O Canal, sailing in the widening river south of Alexandria, or even kayaking in the raging rapids at Great Falls, a 30-minute drive from the capital. Washington, DC.


The Boathouse at Fletcher's Cove. In business since the 1850s, the Boat House at Fletcher's Cove, on the D.C. side of the Potomac, rents rowboats, canoes, and bicycles and sells tackle, snack foods, and D.C. fishing licenses. Here you can catch shad, perch, catfish, striped bass, and other freshwater species. Canoeing is allowed on the canal and, weather permitting, on the Potomac. There's a large picnic area along the riverbank. 4940 Canal Rd., at Reservoir Rd., Georgetown, Washington, DC, 20007. 202/244–0461.

Thompson's Boat Center. The center rents canoes and kayaks, as well as bikes.The location provides a nice launching point into the Potomac, right in the center of the city. Rowing sculls are also available, but you must demonstrate prior experience and a suitably high skill level. Note: Thompson closes from Halloween through early March, based on the water's temperature. 2900 Virginia Ave. NW, Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC, 20037. 202/333–4861 or 202/333–9543. Foggy Bottom/GWU.

Tidal Basin Boathouse. Paddleboat rentals are available from mid-March through mid-October. The entrance is on the east side of the Tidal Basin. You can rent two-passenger boats at $12 per hour and four-passenger boats at $19 per hour. 1501 Maine Ave. SW, The Mall, Washington, DC, 20024. 202/479–2426. Farragut W.