Why you might roll your eyes:
The hikes are fun, and seeing the falls is cool, but the line of cars to get into Virginia’s Great Falls Park on nice days can be ridiculously long.
Why you’ll love it:
No doubt you’ve seen the falls from one of the easily reached overlooks on the Maryland and Virginia sides of the Potomac River. (Our advice on nice days: Get there early.) But have you seen them from below? When you’re on the water, the thundering torrents bring home the power of the Potomac as it drops over the rocky falls and pushes through the sheer cliffs of the Mather Gorge. While expertise is needed to kayak up toward the falls from downriver—this is a spot where some Olympians train—the thrilling rapids can be enjoyed by anyone on a four-hour guided rafting trip with Potomac Paddle Sports ($125). The company also offers kayaking lessons for those who want to challenge the river on their own.