Explore Washington D.C.

Things to Do in D.C.: Outdoor Adventures

Washingtonians have a well-earned reputation for working hard, but we also relish time spent in the great outdoors. With national parks at nearly every turn, plus a legendary river and networks of trails, can you blame us?

Getting Active in D.C.

Outdoor enthusiasts find options for just about every interest and level of skill or fitness. Some prefer a contemplative paddle on the Potomac, while others break a sweat on strenuous hikes or Tour de France-style bike rides.

Some of our favorite outdoor adventures are kayaking near Georgetown, cycling by the memorials and taking in the panoramic views at Great Falls Park—little changed since George Washington’s day.

Rock Creek Park

One of the country's earliest, urban national parks, a 2,000-acre wooded oasis following its namesake waterway through the heart of the city. Shady paved trails drawing bikers, jogger, skaters. On weekends and holidays, portions of Beach Drive close to motorized vehicles.

Bike and Roll

By bike and Segway, guided day and night tours of the iconic sites. Bike rentals range from comfy hybrids to sleek performers. Also tandems, kids bikes and trailers.

Boating in DC

A company with multiple boathouses on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers offering sailing, kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals and lessons. Also kayak tours of Georgetown and monuments/memorials, SUP yoga, sculling classes and Tidal Basin paddle boat rentals. Operates seasonally. See website for all locations.

Mount Vernon Trail

A popular 18-mile paved path on the Potomac River's Virginia shore that stretches between Theodore Roosevelt Island (near Rosslyn) and George Washington's Mount Vernon, passing iconic sights along the way.

Entertainment Cruises

On the Spirit of Mount Vernon, narrated excursions to George Washington's estate; on the Odyssey, Spirit of Washington and Capital Elite and National Elite and Potomac Riverboat Company, private charters, dining and entertainment with panoramic views.

Great Falls Park

Only 15 miles from D.C.'s urban bustle, an 800-acre national park where the Potomac River plunges some 76 feet through narrow Mather Gorge. Ranger-led talks and nature walks. Fifteen miles of trails, picnic areas and remnants of the 18th-century Patowmack Canal. Open daily. $7 per individual, $15 per car.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

In the Potomac River near Georgetown, an 88.5-acre island memorializing the 26th president and ardent outdoorsman. Trails lead through the woods, across marshland and up to a plaza featuring a statue of Roosevelt plus four stone monoliths etched with his quotations.

C&O Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, a 19th-century commercial waterway, now serves as a national historical park. The towpath is popular with joggers and bikers, especially the local section linking Georgetown with the Potomac River’s Great Falls.