Boat Outings to Book This Summer
Whether you want a workout, a cruise or a little bit of both, you've got options for getting out on the water.
Feeling the need for speed? Grab five of your closest friends and charter one of Embark’s two 25-foot Chaparral sport boats—which can go up to 50 mph—for a private, customized tour on the Occoquan River, Potomac River or the Washington Channel. “I’ve got 1,000 facts and figures, 35 pages of notes on 50 monuments and sights in D.C. that all my captains have to memorize,” says Denny Clifford, the company’s founder and president.
In addition to the sport boats, Embark offers rides on a 56-foot vintage Chris-Craft yacht and a 41-foot Meridian Bridge Cruiser. Departures are available at 10 docks in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. As of June 1, tours will be available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Old-school hospitality and family fun” are the founding principles of Occoquan-based Penguin Paddling, says owner Danny Barker, a local firefighter and paramedic whose boating company offers kayak and paddleboard rentals by the hour, seven days a week. Participants must be 14 or older to paddle their own boat or board, and children must weigh at least 30 pounds to ride in a double kayak with an adult.
Also available: two-hour guided tours that meander along the Occoquan River past historic buildings and wildlife such as bald eagles, waterfowl and fish. “It’s a very mellow body of water,” Barker says. “When people think river, they think either wide open Potomac or a raging whitewater scene. That’s not what we do. It’s all flatwater.”
Penguin Paddling does not take reservations, but at its busiest last year, Barker says the wait was about 25 minutes.
Float DC, now available at The Wharf Marina, offers rentals of 100% electric, Scandinavian designed picnic boats for up to 8 people for 1-3 hours. (BYOB food and drinks are allowed, with the exception of red wine.) If you’re over 21 and have a valid driver’s license, Float DC allows you to be your own captain and steer your vessel up and down the Washington Channel. For those who haven’t completed the necessary boaters safety course, the outfitter offers a 1-day license option. Boat rentals available through October.
When George Washington’s Mount Vernon first opened to visitors in the mid-to-late 1800s, most guests arrived by boat. On May 28, Mount Vernon and City Cruises will launch a new series of weekend excursions recreating that journey down the Potomac with special guest Martha Washington (played by character interpreter Elizabeth Keaney). The cruises embark from The Wharf in DC and Alexandria City Marina and sail down river to the estate home of our first president. CityCruises also offers bike & boat tours, and photography tours to Mount Vernon.