Everyone says DC is a city on the swamp, but we beg to differ. The Potomac River gives you a variety of amazing options for sailing in DC that are much better than taking the hour-long trip to Annapolis. These clubs offer lessons and boat rentals so you can experience the bliss of sailing no matter your experience level. Whether you want to rent a boat for your friends or learn how to sail, we’ve got you covered.

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Where to go Sailing in DC

DC Sail

Best for: Sailing lessons for children, teens, and adults 

Location: 99 Potomac Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003 

If you’re looking for the perfect beginner spot for sailing in DC, look no further than DC Sail. This is a community sailing program by the National Maritime Heritage Foundation, and its goal is to promote safe and affordable sailing programs for everyone. They use sailing as a way to promote community spirit and volunteerism.

Sailing classes are offered to children, teens, and adults. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start out with the small boats. Past students say that their experience at DC Sail was incredible because it taught them the fundamentals of sailing. For those wanting a bit more of a challenge, DC Sail has an incredible 65-foot schooner called the American Spirit

If you’re looking for a fun date night idea, renting a boat here is the perfect way to enjoy some alone time while relaxing in nature. For our DC picnic lovers, you’re welcome to pack a meal for your boat ride, but just remember to bring your own cups and utensils!

Port of Washington Yacht Club (POWYC)

Best for: Boating enthusiasts

Location: 650 Wharf Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 

The Wharf Marina in DC is a popular waterfront destination for both residents and visitors. It’s located south of the National Mall, so you can head to some of DC’s most admired memorials, art venues, and sporting events after sailing.

While Port of Washington offers a variety of membership, you can still head down to the Wharf and enjoy the water even if you’re not a regular member. This Yacht Club is known for its fun activities throughout the year, including Thursday Happy Hours and Monday Captain’s Coffee. It’s a great place to build community and socialize with other boat lovers! Locals say that the POWYC is an awesome spot to rent a boat and spend quality time with family and friends. If you want to experience the nautical side of DC, then definitely check out this sailing club.

Capital Yacht Club (CYC)

Best for: An all-around boating experience 

Location: 800 Wharf Street SW, Washington, DC 

The Capital Yacht Club is yet another sailing club that is located at the heart of DC’s Wharf. Since 1892, they’ve upheld the tradition of boating through the Washington Channel. Not only is there sailing experience magical, people can’t stop raving about CYC’s clubhouse. This welcoming place has a full-service bar and restaurant, making it the perfect place to chat over a drink, cup of coffee, or delicious meal. Whether you sign up for a membership or come as a visiting boater, their clubhouse offers a soothing atmosphere and panoramic views of the marina. While boating is available any day of the week, the clubhouse is only open Tuesday-Saturday.

Float DC

Best for: Relaxing with friends and family

Location: 101 Market Sq SW Washington, DC 20024 

Even though Float DC was established in 2019, they’ve already built a great reputation amongst DC residents and tourists. Their Scandinavian-designed, 18-foot picnic boats are the perfect way to enjoy the open waters surrounded by your friends and family.

Another cool aspect of this sailing in DC spot is that their vessels are 100% electric, so they can be captained by anyone over the age of 21 with a valid driver’s license. In fact, Float DC encourages you to be your own captain! Even if you haven’t finished your boater’s safety course, they offer a 1-day license option that gives you the confidence and skills needed to navigate the Washington Channel. Feel free to bring your own drinks and music for a fun-filled experience. We suggest going out early in the morning if you want to avoid getting stuck in traffic, as this area tends to get busy!

Mariner Sailing School

Best for: One-on-one affordable sailing lessons 

Location: Belle Haven Marina Alexandria, VA 22307 

The Mariner Sailing School in Belle Haven Marina is located a little south of Old Town Alexandria along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. If you’re living in downtown DC, then you’ll have to take a little trip to the suburbs to get here. However, we assure you that the sailing lessons are totally worth it!

This is a great beginner spot for sailing in DC, as many adults and children have learned how to sail here, thanks to their knowledgeable instructors. If you sign up for lessons, you can expect four 2.5-hour sailing classes out on the Potomac. You’ll only have two other students on board with you, which means you’ll have more one-on-one time with the instructor. You’ll even learn how to rig the boat and raise the sails! They offer both basic and advanced courses, so you can pick one according to how good of a sailor you already are.

After your lessons, the Mariner Sailing School gives you a free week to practice, plus 50% off on rentals for a lifetime. You can also rent a sailboat with a friend for only $10 per person for up to two hours.