One of the best ways to explore Washington DC is from one of its many waterways. While we love kayaking in DC, stand up paddle boarding is a different and equally as interesting way to see the city. Located where the Potomac River meets the Anacostia River, there are tons of great spots for stand up paddle boarding in DC.
We’ve compiled this list of 7 of the best places for paddle board in DC for all levels…even people who have never done it before!
Best Places to Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding in DC
There’s no better place to go stand up paddle boarding in DC than in one of its most historic and iconic neighborhoods: Georgetown. Filled with charming row houses, old industrial buildings, historical sites, and tree-lined streets, the best part of Georgetown is its bustling waterfront, which offers several opportunities to get out on the water.
While there are boat tours and dinner cruises aplenty, we strongly recommend exploring the Potomac by paddle board. If you choose to go stand up paddle boarding in Georgetown, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Georgetown University, the Kennedy Center, and nearby Roslyn (in Virginia).
Where to Rent a Stand Up Paddle Board in Georgetown: Georgetown’s rental location is at the Key Bridge Boathouse, on the waterfront under the bridge. Their rates start at $22/hour for a stand up paddle board.
2. The Wharf
Home to a marina and DC’s historic Fish Market, The Wharf is now a bustling waterfront area full of upscale restaurants, high-end apartments, and a popular concert venue, The Anthem. The Wharf also a prime location for stand up paddle boarding, as it’s located near Navy Yard and the eastern side of DC.
Here, you can paddle through the marina area along the banks of East Potomac Park, an especially beautiful area during cherry blossom season in the spring. From the waterways surrounding The Wharf, you can catch glimpses of the new International Spy Museum, or head all the way over to Navy Yard.
Where to Rent a Stand Up Paddle Boar in the Wharf: The Wharf Boathouse is located on the pier in front of the Hyatt House Hotel. You can rent a stand up paddle board for $22/hour.
3. Navy Yard/Anacostia River
Navy Yard is one of DC’s coolest up-and-coming neighborhoods located on the banks of the Anacostia River. Situated near Nationals Park, this riverfront area is the perfect place to grab a kayak and explore the eastern side of the city.
From the Anacostia River, you can see the historic Navy Yard and the Nationals ballpark to the north and the greenery of Anacostia Park to the south. Or, alternatively, you can paddle to Hains Point, the southernmost point of East Potomac Park.
Where to Rent a Stand Up Paddle Board in Navy Yard: Ballpark Boathouse is your one-stop shop for all things kayaking/paddling in Navy Yard. You can rent a stand up paddle board for $22/hour.
- Address: Potomac Ave SE and First Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
4. Washington Sailing Marina
Located south of the Pentagon, the Washington Sailing Marina is a wonderful, less crowded area to begin your stand up paddle boarding adventure. The Washington Sailing Marina is technically located in Alexandria, VA, but we’ll count it since it’s within eyeshot of Washington, DC… With access to the Potomac River as well as the mouth of the Four Mile Run, it’s a great area to spend a few hours paddling around between DC and Virginia.
From the Washington Sailing Marina, you can head all the way up to the south end of East Potomac Park, which is a beautiful urban green space in DC. Alternatively, stick around the nearby areas of the Potomac and watch as planes land and take off above you from Reagan National Airport.
Where to Rent a Stand Up Paddle Board in the Washington Sailing Marina: The Washington Sailing Marina has its own boathouse where you can rent kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and more. You can also take sailing lessons here, or enjoy a riverside meal at Island Time Bar & Grill.
- Address: 1 Marina Dr, Alexandria, VA 22314
5. National Harbor
Like the Washington Sailing Marina, the National Harbor isn’t technically in DC, but we’ve included it here because it’s close enough and can be reached by public transportation from downtown. It’s also a unique area to go stand up paddle boarding in DC, since it’s a bit farther out from the city center. Paddling here will give you a different perspective of the National Harbor and the surrounding areas.
Located across the Potomac River from Alexandria, you can catch great views of the banks of Old Town Alexandria, or paddle along the banks of the Potomac River Waterfront Park.
Where to Rent a Stand Up Paddle Board in the National Harbor: The National Harbor Boathouse has stand up paddle boards available for rent for reasonable prices. Since it’s run by the same company as the others listed in this post, the prices are the same: $22/hour for an hour.
- Address: 165 Waterfront Street, Oxon Hill, MD 20745
6. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal
For those wanting to paddle in a more natural setting without the adrenaline rush of Great Falls, the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal is an excellent choice. This historic canal was once used as a shipping route, as it extends all the way to Ohio! Today, it’s a gorgeous recreation area with miles of trails and calm waterways, perfect for exploring by foot or boat. As far as stand up paddle boarding near DC goes, it doesn’t get much better than the C&O canal.
The canal runs parallel to the Potomac River for several miles and has much more controlled rapids than at Great Falls. Renting a stand up paddle board to explore the C&O Canal is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in quiet nature, without having to stray too far from DC’s city limits.
Where to Rent a Stand Up Paddle Board Near the C&O Canal: Fletcher’s Boathouse is located right next to the C&O Canal and is the perfect place to rent a stand up paddle board, with access to both the canal and the Potomac River and prices starting at $22/hour.
- Address: 4940 Canal Rd NW, Washington, D.C. 20007
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