Enter the DC Universe: 7 Waterfront Activities & Things to Do in Washington, DC

Enter the DC Universe: 7 Waterfront Activities & Things to Do in Washington, DC
The seafood market at the Wharf, Photo Credit: christianthiel.net / Shutterstock.com

There are endless ways to explore Washington DC. Once travel becomes easier, try exploring the waterfront whenever you're in the city

OT Staff
May 25 , 2021
04 Min Read

The district’s two rivers, the Potomac and the Anacostia, shine brightly once the warm weather of spring and summer settles on Washington, DC. Fortunately for visitors, there are plenty of ways to explore Washington DC’s waterfronts with family-friendly outdoor recreation that include being both on the rivers and lounging beside it.

We may be living in uncertain times, but what's the harm in dreaming about destinations? In keeping with that idea, we give you seven ways you can enjoy the DC Waterfront.


Live the Wharf Life at DC’s Hottest Development
Savour the Wharf life
DC’s waterfront offerings went through the roof when The Wharf debuted in October 2017. The development features so many things to do, eat and drink – including awesome waterfront views, an array of stylish restaurants, four distinct piers, three new, state-of-the-art hotels, two great new music venues in The Anthem and Pearl Street Warehouse and a free water jitney that takes you to the gorgeous East Potomac Park. 

Savor the Outdoors at The Yards Park
Located near Nationals Park and at the center of the bustling Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, The Yards Park sits next to the Anacostia River in resplendent fashion. Its bridge is an architectural marvel while its modernised “outdoor rooms” make the park a perfect place for playtime. Nearby, waterfront outfitter Ballpark Boathouse offers kayak rentals complemented by views of the river's wildlife.

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Read: A Local's Guide to Washington DC

Hang out at The Washington Harbour in Georgetown
Georgetown’s river waterfront is home to tons of great restaurants – many, including  Sequoia, Tony and Joe's Seafood Place and Farmers Fishers Bakers, offer patio seating in warm weather – and plenty of outdoor activities. In summer, children (and adults, too) can splash in the sprinkler-style water fountain, watch the boats and feed the ducks. Before or after, get your shopping on in the historic neighborhood.

Head to the Key Bridge Boathouse for kayaking and paddleboarding
Located in Georgetown on the Potomac River, Key Bridge Boathouse is a great place to go for on-the-water adventures. Rent a kayak, canoe or even a standup paddleboard and make the river your personal playground. You should be able to catch views of the gorgeous Georgetown waterfront, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and even the Washington Monument. You can also paddle over to Theodore Roosevelt Island, which is an attraction unto itself.

Have a Monumental Time with Tidal Basin Paddle Boats
Walking but on water
Gaze at the gorgeous Jefferson Memorial and an array of cherry blossom trees as you glide around the Tidal Basin on either a pedal boat or a swan boat from Tidal Basin Paddle Boats. Expect picturesque views of the National Mall as you navigate one of the most scenic areas in the District.

See the Sights on a DC Boat Tour
Located on Southwest & The Wharf, Hornblowers offers sightseeing tours daily, providing stunning visuals of the memorials and monuments from an on-the-water perspective. Its boats offer lunch and dinner cruises, as well as themed excursions, so your options are plentiful. Embark DC offers customised tours that depart from the Georgetown waterfront;  Potomac Riverboat Company, which offers a variety of narrated cruises on the river, including water taxi excursions; Potomac Paddle Pub, a rain-or-shine pedal boat that doubles as a BYOB booze cruise; and DC Cruises, which sports 100-passenger tour boats to see the monuments, as well as water taxi tours that connect Georgetown and the National Mall.

Discover Dazzling Views with DC Ducks
DC Ducks offers awesome sightseeing tours on its distinctive amphibious vehicles. You start at  Union Station, driving past the city’s famous monuments and museums, learning as you go. Then, the car turns into a boat, taking you straight into the Potomac River for a thrilling adventure off-land. This 90-minute journey is unlike any other tour in the District and a great family-friendly activity.

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