In this article, we uncover 4 places to paddleboard in Washington D.C. and make the case that the nation's capital must be on your next place to SUP!
Washington, D.C. is certainly not known as a paddleboard hotspot. The weather is pretty horrific at least 7-8 months out of the year. There’s no amazing beaches or crystal clear lakes in the area to paddle around.
For most, Washington, D.C. is not a place to paddleboard. However, the area has quickly become a popular paddle place due to the sheer number of tourists D.C. sees every single summer.
When combined with fit locals looking to enjoy some exercise outdoors, it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy paddling in our nation’s capital. While we don’t recommend going to D.C. solely to paddle around, like we would in a place like Key West, there are still some amazing SUP spots in Washington, D.C.
So let’s dive in. Without further ado, here are four absolutely amazing places to SUP in Washington, D.C.
-Perfect Paddles Travel Brief-
Perfect Paddles Recommended Outfitters in the Area:
Capital SUP, Washington D.C. (Member Deal – 10% off rentals)
Paddle Stroke SUP, Potomac, MD
Potomac Paddle Sports, Potomac, MD
Surf Reston, Reston, VA
Paddle On of Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA (Member Deal – 10% off services)
Member Deals: Don’t forget to take advantage of our fantastic Member Deals for exclusive discounts for our members! To become a member head HERE.
Suggested Day Trips from Washington D.C.:
Head to Williamsburg, VA
Looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C.? A day trip to Williamsburg, Virginia may be just the ticket. Located just over a two-hour drive from the nation's capital, Williamsburg offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience colonial America firsthand.
One of the main attractions in Williamsburg is the historic Colonial Williamsburg area. Here visitors can explore dozens of restored and reconstructed buildings from the 18th century. Take a stroll down the picturesque streets. Experience the sights, sounds, and even the smells of life in the colonial era. Costumed interpreters bring history to life with stories and demonstrations of colonial trades such as blacksmithing and carpentry.
But Williamsburg isn't just about history - it's also a great destination for outdoor activities, such as paddle boarding. With easy access to the James and York Rivers, Williamsburg provides a scenic backdrop for a paddle board adventure. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, there are plenty of rental options available in the area, and the calm waters make for a peaceful and enjoyable ride. So, the next time you're looking to get away from the city, consider a day trip to Williamsburg for a unique blend of history and outdoor adventure.
With that said, our suggested option is to contact Lori from Paddle On of Williamsburg!
Lori and her team offer SUP lessons, yoga, and fitness class on and off the water. In addition, you can ask her for locals-only information on the historic city of Williamsburg while you're off the water. In addition, camping is available at Chickahominy Riverfront Park for a great spot for a weekend getaway.
If you're in the D.C. area and want to escape city life for a weekend, this is the place to go!
Best Time of Year to Visit:
The best times to visit Washington, D.C. for tourism purposes, are from September to November and March to May. In the autumn, the sweltering summer is gone, taking with it most of the high season tourists. (www.travel.usnews.com) However, if you are looking to spend time on the water, then the best time to visit is during the summer months from May to August with warmer temperatures.
The average temperatures during the best paddling months are as follows (in Fahrenheit)…
May 76° / 54°
June 85° / 63°
July 89° / 68°
September 81° / 59°
SUP Environments to Paddle In:
SUP Activity Highlights:
One of the best ways to explore the United States capital is from the water! And an even better way to do that is with a guided tour! To look up participating outfitters in the D.C. area be sure to use our Locations/Activities guide HERE!
Perfect Paddles Deals to Get Your Ready for Your Trip:
RHEOS (Floating) Sunglasses- 15% off with Member Benefits
Duk Gear- 20% off a waterproof cell phone case with Member Benefits
Amphibian Outdoors- Save $20 on your purchase with Member Benefits
Check out more of our gear options HERE!
Interested in any of these extra activities? Be sure to head HERE to find a list of paddle pros in the area and what they offer!
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It has free admission and is open 364 days a year.
National Museum of African American History
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was established in December 2003 and opened its permanent home in September 2016 with a ceremony led by President Barack Obama.
The Lincoln Memorial is a US national memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument, and is in the form of a neoclassical temple. The memorial's architect was Henry Bacon.
George Washington Memorial
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is a Masonic building and memorial located in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to the memory of George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Mason.
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art, and its attached Sculpture Garden, is a national art museum in Washington, D.C., located on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, at Constitution Avenue NW.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history.
There is an endless amount of museums and history to explore in the D.C. area. Be sure to do a thorough search before you head there!
For reference, be sure to check out our Perfect Paddles Activities map! For the Washington D.C. Area, you will find it below:
Kenilworth Park is a hidden gem that not many people know about. The park offers a unique perspective on the city and the surrounding area. As you paddle along the Anacostia River, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and a variety of wildlife, including birds, fish, and turtles.
One of the great things about Kenilworth Park is that it's a great place for both beginners and experienced paddlers. The calm waters and lack of crowds make it a great place to practice your technique or just relax and enjoy the scenery.
The park is also home to a number of walking trails, which offer a great opportunity to explore the area on foot. If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, Kenilworth Park is definitely worth checking out.
Potomac River Rapids
The Potomac River Rapids offers a unique and thrilling SUP experience for those seeking a challenge. Only experienced paddlers should attempt this section of the river, as the rapids can be difficult to navigate. But for those up to the challenge, the rewards are worth it. Locals have even taken up SUP river surfing in the rapids. If you have the necessary experience and skills, this could be an adventure of a lifetime. However, for those less experienced, we recommend hiring a guide to ensure your safety and enjoyment on this exciting SUP adventure.
And even though this might be the most adventurous location, it's still undeniably an amazing time on the water which is why its on our list of 4 places to paddleboard in Washington D.C.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island is a must-visit spot for paddlers who want to experience the beauty of the Potomac River while being close to all the major attractions in the city. This stunning island offers visitors an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet on the water.
While there are no rental outfitters on the island, you can easily bring your own board and launch from the island's boat ramp. If you don't have your own board, there are plenty of rental options available from boating D.C.'s Key Bridge Boathouse location, which is just a short paddle away.
However, be prepared for a busy paddle across the river as this area can get quite crowded with other kayakers, paddleboarders, and motorized boats. But don't let the crowds deter you, as the experience of paddling near the monuments and through the heart of the nation's capital is truly unforgettable.
Once you've paddled to the island, be sure to take some time to explore the lush forests, winding trails, and scenic overlooks that make this island such a unique destination. As you paddle around the island, you'll be able to take in stunning views of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and other iconic landmarks.
Overall, paddling around Theodore Roosevelt Island is a unique and rewarding experience that offers visitors a chance to explore the city from a new perspective. Whether you're an experienced paddler or just looking for a fun and exciting activity to try out on your next trip to D.C., be sure to add this spot to your must-visit list.
Nestled just outside of the bustling city of Arlington, VA lies the serene and picturesque Lake Barcroft. While it may be a little further away from the city, the short drive is worth it for those seeking a more peaceful paddling experience.
On weekends, the lake can get a little crowded, but during the week, you can have the lake to yourself. The calm waters make it an ideal spot for paddling around, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out. And with the stunning natural scenery surrounding the lake, you might even forget that you're just a stone's throw away from the nation's capital.
The tranquility of Lake Barcroft is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. The lush trees and gentle sounds of nature create a peaceful atmosphere that is perfect for a relaxing paddle. It's no wonder that so many locals and visitors alike make the journey to this beautiful spot to enjoy some time on the water.
While there may not be as many rental outfitters in the area as there are in the city, Paddle Stroke SUP is always a reliable option. They offer high-quality equipment and knowledgeable instructors who can help you make the most out of your paddling experience. So whether you're a seasoned paddler or just starting out, Lake Barcroft is the perfect destination for your next SUP adventure. And that's why it lands on our list of 4 places to paddleboard in Washington D.C.
Ready to Paddle the Capital?
We hoped you enjoyed uncovering 4 places to paddleboard in Washington D.C.
This area may not be known for its paddleboarding, but it's a destination that should not be overlooked.
Whether you're looking for a challenging river rapids experience or a relaxing paddle on a lake, Washington, D.C. has something to offer. Be sure to plan your visit during the best paddling months of May through September, and consider checking out the many other attractions the city has to offer, such as the many Smithsonian museums or the National Mall.
At Perfect Paddles, we recommend you take a look at our recommended outfitters and take advantage of our exclusive Member Deals for discounts on rental equipment and tours. So why not give paddleboarding in Washington, D.C. a try? You might just discover a new favorite spot.
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