4 Potomac River Activities to Hit Up As Soon As This Rain Clears

Photo via iStock.

The Potomac is normally gorgeous this time of year—at least, when the sun’s out. With leafy green trees lining the banks and flowers blooming along the shore, the river is at its best in late spring. So once this epic rain passes, take advantage of the scenery and get out on the water this weekend with these fun water sports. You’ll burn calories and get healthy, all while enjoying the natural beauty of one of D.C.’s finest water features.

Rowing Club

Rowing is a great way to get in an intense workout that burns calories quickly—without having to spend hours toning individual muscles. That’s because rowing works out “every major muscle group in your body,” according to LiveStrong. And as a low-impact exercise, rowing doesn’t tax your joints, which means it’s the perfect pastime for all ages. In D.C., there’s a lively scene on the Potomac. You can participate in races, join a team, or just get your feet wet with a rowing class or two. The Key Bridge Boathouse, next door to the members-only Potomac Boat Club, rents boats as well as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

For those of us who are klutzy, paddle boarding can seem a tad intimidating. But what seems like an impossible balancing act is actually not that challenging. “It’s accessible to just about anyone with any athletic inclination. Even my grandmother would be able to paddle around on flat water,” Reuters claims. Stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP, as the industry has dubbed itself) is a water exercise that focuses on strengthening your core and increasing your endurance. If you’re more interested in checking out the beauty of the Potomac, you can paddle slowly—like taking a stroll on the water. If you’re into the sport for exercise, paddle faster, and you’ll burn more calories and improve more quickly. Paddle boards are available for rent at the Ballpark Boathouse, National Harbor, and the Key Bridge.



Kayaking is a wonderful way to enjoy nature, while picking up your heart rate. As a high-cardio workout, kayaking tones your lats, shoulders, and your legs, according to Men’s Journal. Rent a kayak from Jason Beakes, a former member of the U.S. Kayak Team at Active Nature, and take it out on the Potomac to enjoy a beautiful spring day in D.C.—or they offer a moonlight tour if you’re looking for something a little different. To get the most out of your workout, sprint toward one side of the river and back multiple times. This will keep your muscles in a constant contraction, which tones them faster! Kayaks are also available for rent at the Ballpark Boathouse, National Harbor, and the Key Bridge.


Run Along the River

Not into water sports? Scared of pitching headfirst into the murky Potomac? You’re in luck! For those of you who’d rather not get your feet wet, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the Potomac and still sneak in some exercise. Check out the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, which is easy to access from the Arlington side of the Key Bridge. It’s miles of tree-lined, riverside running path where you can enjoy the scenery while doing something good for your body. If you’re not a runner, take time out of your day to walk along the waterfront. Even a nice, leisurely stroll is better than sitting on the couch!

Correction: This post originally said the Potomac Boat Club permits boat docking for non-members and offers sculling classes and other activities open to the public. It does not. 

Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato

Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato is a freelance science, health, and environment reporter based in Washington, DC, whose work has appeared in National Geographic, NPR, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Newsweek, and Nature.