News & Politics

Fun Outdoor Activities in Washington

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor activities—and Washington has a lot to offer. Rent a bike and ride to Mount Vernon, take a walk along the Potomac, ride a horse in Rock Creek Park, or rent a kayak and paddle the river. Here’s our guide to some great outdoor activities in Washington.

Ride to Mount Vernon
Rent a bike at Big Wheel Bikes in Old Town (2 Prince St., Alexandria; 703-739-2300) in Old Town and ride the Mount Vernon Trail to George Washington’s estate. The trail follows the Potomac’s Virginia shoreline, so there are also plenty of sights and pretty views along the way. Bike rentals start at $25 a day. Store hours: Monday through Friday 11 to 7, Saturday 10 to 6, Sun 11 to 6.

Bike to Gravelly Point
You can rent bikes as well as boats at Washington Sailing Marina (1 Marina Dr., Alexandria; 703-548-9027), located on the Potomac next to the Mount Vernon Trail. Take a leisurely bike ride to Old Town, or go in the opposite direction and stop by Gravelly Point for a picnic to watch planes coming into and going out of Reagan National Airport. Bike rentals are $25 a day.Kayaking on the Potomac
Take a peaceful rowing trip and enjoy a panoramic view of DC from the river. There are several locations in Washington for renting kayaks and canoes as well as bikes. Depending on where you want your adventure to start, there are a couple options:

Fletcher’s Boat House (4940 Canal Rd., NW; 202-244-0461), located at C&O Canal National Historical Park, has kayak, canoe, and bicycle rentals. Bike rentals are $25 a day, canoe rentals $35 a day. 7 to 7.

Jack’s Boat House (3500 K St., NW; 202-337-9642), just beneath the Key Bridge, rents kayaks, canoes, and rowboats for boating on the Potomac. Go south on the river for a view of the monuments, or go north for a quieter trip. Rentals are $35 a day.

• At Thompson Boat Center (2900 Virginia Ave., NW; 202-333-9543), you can rent kayaks, canoes, and bikes. Kayak rentals range from $24 to $30 a day, canoe rentals $22 a day, bikes $15 to $25 a day. 8 to 6.
A Day in the Park
Leave the city behind and spend a day in Rock Creek Park, which offers a range of outdoor activities. In addition to bike rentals and hiking paths, you can go horseback riding, visit the Nature Center, or take advantage of picnic areas. For more information about activities, go to or contact the Rock Creek Park visitor information line at 202-895-6070. To sign up for horseback riding, visit Horseback rides are $38 for one hour.

Art Indoors and Out
If you want to visit a museum but still enjoy the beautiful weather, go to the National Gallery of Art’s outdoor Sculpture Garden (Constitution Ave. between Seventh and Ninth sts., NW; 202-737-4215). If it starts to rain, there are several Smithsonian museums nearby to choose from. Monday through Thursday 10 to 7, Friday 10 to 9:30, Sunday 11 to 7.