11 Stunning Locations for Kayaking in Washington DC

10 Stunning Locations for Kayaking in Washington DC

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 8/13/2022

Even though Washington, DC, is most known for its memorials, monuments, and museums, there are still many canals and green places in the city that can explore. Kayaking in Washington DC, is the ideal method to explore the city from the river, which is one of the most significant ways to see the city. You are in luck since there are dozens of locations throughout the city where you may go kayaking. These locations give you a fresh perspective of Capital City's famous structures and landmarks.


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In this guide, we will highlight some of the best places to go kayaking in and around Washington, District of Columbia, as well as some of the best kayak rental businesses we recommend. If you are interested in going on a guided kayaking tour in Washington, DC, we have included some of our top recommendations below.

Best Kayaking Locations in DC

Best Kayaking Locations in DC

Within the city confines of Washington, District of Columbia, there are many alternatives for locations to go kayaking, so if you're searching for a quick and convenient kayaking excursion, this is the place to be. Continue reading to learn about some of the most desirable locations in the nation's capital for paddleboarding.

1. The Georgetown area

There is no better place to go kayaking in Washington, DC, than in Georgetown, one of the city's most historic and well-known areas. Who can have a day well spent in Georgetown, characterized by its quaint row houses, landmark manufacturing structures, and streets surrounded by trees?

Nevertheless, the most exciting element of Georgetown is its busy waterfront, which provides a variety of possibilities to enjoy the water and its surroundings. Even though plenty of boat tours and dinner cruises are available, paddling along the Potomac is something we highly recommend doing. If you decide to go kayaking in Georgetown, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Georgetown University, the Kennedy Center, and Roslyn, which is located close (to Virginia).
Where to Rent a Kayak in Georgetown The Key Bridge Boathouse, located on the waterfront beneath the bridge, is where you will find Georgetown's kayak rental spot. The hourly pricing for a single kayak starts at $18, while the hourly rate for a double kayak is $25.

1. Georgetown

Address: 3500 Water Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, 20007

2. Potomac to Rock Creek

Paddling up Rock Creek Park from the Potomac River is an excellent option for those looking for a more peaceful and verdant setting for kayaking in the District of Columbia. This park is one of the largest in the city and is located in the West End area. It features over 1,700 acres of lush forests and walkways that provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city streets.

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You may paddle your way through the waters of Rock Creek, which is located closest to the Potomac River, in addition to the numerous running and biking routes throughout the park. However, stay where the creek is wide and straightforward to manage. Don't wander the stream itself because the waters there are challenging to navigate and should only be attempted by seasoned professionals.
Where to Rent a Kayak Near Rock Creek Park Thompson Boat Center is where you'll find the closest kayak rental location to Rock Creek Park. Who can see it near the end of the Georgetown Waterfront, close to where Rock Creek and the Potomac River meet. The hourly pricing for a single kayak starts at $18, while the hourly rate for a double kayak is $25.

Potomac to Rock Creek

Address: Washington, District of Columbia, 20037, 2900 Virginia Avenue NW

3. The Wharf

The Wharf was previously the site of a marina and the historic Fish Market in Washington, DC; today, it is a lively waterfront neighborhood with premium restaurants, high-end apartments, and a well-known concert venue called The Anthem.

The Wharf is an excellent spot for kayaking because of its proximity to the Navy Yard and the eastern side of the District of Columbia. Paddling through the marina area along the banks of East Potomac Park, a beautiful place in the springtime when cherry blossom season is in full swing, is something that can do here. You can get some great views of the brand-new International Spy Museum from the waterways surrounding The Wharf, or you can kayak down to the Navy Yard from there.

Who can find the Wharf Boathouse on the pier in front of the Hyatt House Hotel? That is where you can rent kayaks if you are on the Wharf. You may start by renting a kayak for as little as $18 per hour for a single kayak or $25 per hour for a double kayak.

The Wharf

Address: 760 Maine Ave SW Washington, DC 20024 S L St & S 7th St

4. Navy Yard/Anacostia River

On the south side of the Anacostia River is where you'll find one of the hippest and most happening communities in all of Washington, DC: Navy Yard. This stretch of riverbank land is conveniently located close to Nationals Park, making it an ideal spot from which to launch a canoe or kayak and investigate the neighborhood on the city's eastern edge.
The lush vegetation of Anacostia Park can be seen to the south, and the historic Navy Yard and Nationals ballpark can be seen to the north, both of which are visible from the Anacostia River. You could also choose to paddle your way to Hains Point, the most southern point in East Potomac Park.

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Ballpark Boathouse is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about kayaking and paddling in the Navy Yard area, including where to rent a kayak. You may start by renting a kayak for as little as $18 per hour for a single kayak or $25 per hour for a double kayak.

Navy Yard/Anacostia River

Address: Potomac Avenue Southeast and First Street Southeast, Washington, District of Columbia, 20003

5. Washington Sailing Marina

The Washington Sailing Marina, which can be found south of the Pentagon, is a great place to start your kayaking trip because it is less busy than other areas. Even though the Washington Sailing Marina is physically situated in Alexandria, Virginia, we'll still count it because it's in striking distance of the nation's capital. It is a beautiful place to spend a few hours canoeing or kayaking between Washington, DC, and Virginia because it provides access to both the Potomac River and the mouth of the Four Mile Run.

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You can kayak up to the south end of East Potomac Park, a magnificent urban green space in Washington, DC, from the Washington Sailing Marina, where the boats are stored. Alternately, you might remain in the region surrounding the Potomac River and watch jets landing and taking off from Reagan National Airport above you.

Where to Hire a Kayak at the Washington Sailing Marina The Washington Sailing Marina has its boathouse where you can rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and other watercraft. You may also take sailing lessons or have dinner at the Island Time Bar & Grill, located right on the river.

Washington Sailing Marina

Address: 1 Marina Dr, Alexandria, VA 22314

6. National Harbor

Imagine a traditional promenade complete with Ferris wheels, crowds of tourists, and a variety of stores and restaurants; this is what the National Harbor in Washington, DC. You read that correctly; the National Harbor is a major center for entertainment. There are many places to dine and drink, a sizable Ferris wheel, and a massive casino complex owned and operated by MGM.

The National Harbor, in addition to the Washington Sailing Marina, is not officially in the District of Columbia; yet, we have included it in this guide because it is close enough to the city center and is accessible through public transportation from the central business district. Due to its distance from the core of Washington, DC, this location offers an exceptional opportunity to go kayaking. If you want to see the National Harbor and the surrounding environs from a different angle, you should consider going kayaking here.

Paddle along the Potomac River Waterfront Park's banks or take in breathtaking views of the banks of Old Town Alexandria from this location, which is direct across the Potomac River from Alexandria.

If you are interested in renting a kayak in the National Harbor, you may do so at the National Harbor Boathouse for affordable pricing. Because the same firm operates it as the other kayak rental locations featured in this post, the prices are also the same: $18/hour for a single kayak and $25/hour for a double kayak.

National Harbor

Address: 165 Waterfront Street, Oxon Hill, Maryland 20745 is the address.

Map of the Best Kayaking Locations in DC

If you're more of a visual learner, here's a map that displays all 6 of the spots to go kayaking in Washington, DC, that we described above (click on the point to view more information):

Map of  Kayaking in DC

Best Kayaking Locations Near DC

Although there are a lot of sites to go kayaking within the city limits of Washington, DC, there are also a lot of amazing options to go kayaking in nature within a few hours' drive of the city. The following is a list, compiled based on the recommendations of locals, of some of the most beautiful and popular sites to go kayaking near Washington, DC:

7. Great Falls Park

When people think of Washington DC, whitewater rapids are not typically the first thing that comes to mind. Nevertheless, Great Falls is home to both of these things! Great Falls Park is an area protected by the federal government and spans the border between Virginia and Maryland along the Potomac River; you may find the park just outside of Washington, District of Columbia. The Great Falls cascade is a series of waterfalls that cover the width of the river and are the park's primary attraction. Many hiking routes and viewpoint sites characterize the park.

Because Great Falls contains rapids of up to class 6 difficulty, this is not an appropriate place for novice kayakers to practice their skills. Advanced kayakers, on the other hand, will find the rapids of Great Falls to be a one-of-a-kind and exhilarating experience, provided that they have the necessary knowledge and are up for the challenge.

*Note that there is nowhere to rent a kayak near Great Falls; nevertheless, Potomac Paddle Sports offers guided tours and lessons and provides all the necessary equipment for participants. Check out this guide if you want to get more specifics about how to travel this path.

Address: 9200 Old Dominion Dr,

Address: 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102, United States

8. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (also known as the C&O Canal) is a fantastic option for paddlers who wish to experience the thrill of kayaking in a more natural setting than Great Falls. It goes to Ohio, which previously put this historic canal to use as a thoroughfare for transporting goods. It has been transformed into a lovely recreational area with miles of paths and tranquil rivers, making it an ideal place to discover on foot or by boat. When it comes to kayaking in the vicinity of Washington, DC, the C&O canal is your best bet.

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The canal is several miles long and runs parallel to the Potomac River. It has significantly fewer wild rapids than the Potomac River, which translates to smoother waters for paddlers of all skill levels. Renting a kayak to paddle along the C&O Canal is an excellent opportunity to spend some time in peaceful natural surroundings without traveling too far outside the city limits of Washington, DC.

Where Can I Rent a Canoe or Kayak? Near the C&O Canal: Fletcher's Boathouse is immediately next to the C&O Canal and is the ideal location to rent a kayak due to its proximity to the canal and the Potomac River, which are easily accessible from the boathouse. You may start by renting a kayak for as little as $18 per hour for a single kayak or $25 per hour for a double kayak.

 Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

Address: Washington, District of Columbia, Zip Code: 20007 4940 Canal Road NW

9. Dyke Marsh

Dyke Marsh is an excellent area to go kayaking close to Washington, DC, and it is located less than 30 minutes outside the city limits of DC. There are dozens of different kinds of birds, plants, and other animals that call Dyke Marsh their home because it is a protected wildlife preserve. Dyke Marsh is one of the few conservation areas that are still around today; once, a significant portion of the land currently occupied by Washington, District of Columbia, was covered by freshwater tidal wetlands.

Kayaking is one of the most enjoyable ways to discover Dyke Marsh, which is fortunate because one can explore the area in several different ways. You may go canoeing or kayaking through the marshes, and while you're there, keep an eye out for birds like loons, egrets, and herons.

Where to Rent a Kayak in the Neighborhood of Dyke Marsh The boating facility, Belle Haven Marina, is where you can rent kayaks. It is possible to paddle to Dyke Marsh and the places surrounding it from there.

Dyke Marsh

Address: 6401 George Washington Memorial Parkway, Alexandria, Virginia, 22307

10. Mallows Bay

Mallows Bay in Maryland is possibly one of the most exciting places to go kayaking in the vicinity of Washington, DC. The coastline is littered with the remains of hundreds of ships, many of which date back to the 1770s and are either left to rot or were wrecked. This kayaking area in Washington, DC, is one of the most remarkable and unique sights of history, abandonment, and degradation and is perfect for those who enjoy engaging in urban exploration.

You must make reservations for a guided trip to go kayaking in the Mallows Bay Skip Graveyard. It will not only lead you to the most incredible locations, but it will also offer you a local expert who is knowledgeable about the ships' histories and can share those stories with you.

How to Kayak in Mallows Bay Atlantic Kayak provides guided trips to Mallows Bay, and locals and visitors to the area give the company high marks for the quality of their services.

Mallows Bay

Address: 1440 Wilson Landing Rd, Nanjemoy, MD 20662, United States

11. Patuxent River

The Patuxent River Park region in Prince George's County comprises 7,500 acres of conservation space and is located just a few minutes outside Washington, DC. Here, one can find peace and tranquillity. In this area, you'll discover riverbanks and vegetation rather than museums and monuments to occupy your time.

Bird watchers, people who enjoy being outdoors, and anyone interested in wildlife will adore everything that the Patuxent River has to offer. In addition, the region surrounding Washington, DC, along the Patuxent River, has several beautiful spots for kayakers of all skill levels to enjoy the sport, which is easily accessible. If you combine a day of kayaking with an evening spent camping or an afternoon spent hiking, you are guaranteed to have an experience that will stick with you forever!

Where to Rent a Kayak on the Patuxent River The Patuxent River Park authority has its canoe and kayak rentals available at meager rates (only $20 per day!).

Patuxent River

Address: 6600 Kenilworth Avenue, Riverdale, Maryland, 20737 is the address.

Washington, DC Kayak Rentals


Are you interested in learning how to kayak but not sure where to start? The following are a few of the most commonly suggested locations in the District of Columbia where you can rent kayaks:

Boating in DC is the largest (and most widespread) boat rental firm in the Washington, District of Columbia (DC) metropolitan area. They have the widest selection of kayak rental locations in Washington, DC, which includes all of the other sites that have been mentioned in this article. Their prices are reasonable ($18 per hour for a single kayak and $25 per hour for a double kayak, with a maximum daily charge of $100). On most days, you may hire a kayak without making a reservation if you stroll up to a boathouse and ask for one. Any rental of a kayak comes with the provision of a life jacket at no additional cost.
Several other companies hire kayaks in the vicinity of Washington, DC; most are located outside of the city proper. We have provided you with several choices throughout this post. Still, if there is a particular location that you are interested in visiting, Google Maps is an excellent tool for locating a kayak rental company in your area.

The Best Kayaking Tours and Lessons in Washington, District of Columbia


Are you interested in learning more about kayaking in the District of Columbia? There is no need to look any further than these kayaking outfitters and guided excursions, as they provide a wide variety of services that are targeted to paddlers of all levels:

The greater Washington, DC metropolitan region is served by Potomac Paddlesports, which offers kayaking lessons and provides lengthier trips in this region and all around the state of Maryland.
Kayak and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) classes geared toward novices are provided by Active Nature in Washington, District of Columbia.

Although Kayaking Washington DC, is most well-known for its memorials and monuments, who can explore museums, many canals, and green locations in the city. In Washington, District of Columbia, paddling a kayak is the best way to tour the city from the river, which is one of the most critical ways to view the city. Kayaking is one of the most popular ways to visit the city.