Summers in DC are an absolute sweat-fest. Despite our best outdoorsy ambitions, it’s hard to be outside when simply walking to the metro is enough to sweat off a layer of skin cells. You’re welcome for the visual.
Solution: Go kayaking. Or any activity involving the water, really. But for those of us who don’t have a fancy apartment pool or just want a tad more adventure, kayaking has got our (sweaty, sunburned) backs.
So does the Potomac. The 405-mile river offers a ton of get-wet options in and around DC. We opted for kayaking in Georgetown, followed by lunch near the waterfront and wandering around Georgetown’s iconic M Street.
Biking from Arlington to Georgetown
My only qualm with Georgetown is its lack of metro access. I haaaaate fighting DC weekend traffic, so we decided to bike from my guy’s place in Arlington. His neighborhood is actually closer to Georgetown than many parts of DC (including my NoMa), so I metro’d my bike over the night before.
It was a good call. Our short, scenic ride across the Francis Scott Key Bridge gave us a 360° view of the water we would soon be kayaking on. I filmed the ride on my DC Outdoor Life Instagram stories, but it’s a pain to embed the video here 🙂
Coming off the bridge, we dipped down into the C & O Canal trail, which is beautiful with its large trees, lush canal, and characterful homes. Only problem: so much trash thrown into the canal! Confront people you see littering, please.
I was a little iffy taking my road bike onto the gravel, but its teeny tires survived the ride. My guy’s Capital City Bike was better suited for it.
The trail spit us out right onto Water Street, which is the location of Key Bridge Boathouse. There’s also a row of cool-looking bars and restaurants.
We locked our bikes at the Capital City Bikeshare Station on Water Street, then walked a few minutes to the Key Bridge Boathouse.
Kayaking at Key Bridge Boathouse
We rented our kayaks from Boating in DC, which has several locations in the area. They also offer stand up paddleboards (SUP) and canoe rentals, as well as guided tours, fitness classes, and boating workshops.
Our kayaks were only $16 an hour, which I thought was a steal for the location. You could also rent a double kayak for $22 / hour. I am a menace to society with a paddle, so I decided to go solo.
We spent about two hours out on the Potomac, turning right from the Key Bridge Boathouse and paddling towards Fletcher’s Cove. This gave us a more naturey route, whereas going left would have taken us towards the National Monuments and Theodore Roosevelt Island. I would definitely like to return and paddle the other route too.
We didn’t fit in both routes because, newsflash, paddling is hard! Even with arms accustomed to rock climbing, I needed fairly frequent rest breaks. It was a better workout than I expected and I definitely felt it in my arms the next day.
The route was rich in nature. You could easily forget that you’re smack in the middle of DC. Even the wildlife was fairly abundant, with ducks paddling right up to us, a great blue heron lurking in sight, and some kind of hawk circling above.
The few fancy boats that were out offered some good people watching. Though some groups were partying, everyone was surprisingly respectful– no blasting music or obvious drunkenness. (I am 28 going on 50.) We passed a small group of friends, all on SUP boards, who had beached at a tiny island and were playing fetch with their dogs. New life goal: Get a dog, teach it to SUP board.
The sun was intenseeeeeee this day. I think I actually reapplied sunblock every 30 minutes (you know, like the bottle recommends but no one ever really does).
It felt so, so good to just dip my hat in the water and toss back on my head. There are few activities I can do (and enjoy) under full sun in the DC summer. Kayaking is officially one of them.
Lunch Near the Georgetown Waterfront at Susheria DC
After returning the kayaks and changing clothes, we walked through the Georgetown Waterfront Park towards the restaurants. We took our time walking over to take in the beauty of the park.
We figured we would eat one of the waterfront restaurants. But the wait times were long, prices were high, the places were packed (think screaming children and drunk bachelorette parties).
Right across from the waterfront, we found Susheria– a fantastic Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant with unique dishes and elegant decor.
We stumbled onto a total gem with Susheria. The casual-glam restaurant is beautifully designed, with a style that evokes the Great Gatsby era. You can grab drinks and food at the bar, or have a more boujee experience in the dining area.
Susheria has a long sushi list, unique cocktails, and some really cool Asian–Peruvian fusion dishes. I’m pretty much obsessed with this Peruvian Street Food special Chicharon de Cangrejo Acevichado– fried softshell crab topped with Ahi-mahi ceviche, crunchy cancha corn, sweet potato, and aji amarillo sauce.
I wasn’t going to drink, as my guy is doing a “dry July” thing and I am so supportive and all. But the gods would intervene by trapping us with a fierce rainstorm at the end of our meal, so it was only polite to try one.
I went for the Spicy Jo-Jo cocktail, which is right up my alley with tequila, jalapeno, cucumber, and probably some other stuff. I loved how the cucumber and jalapeno balanced each other out, and I loved how the tequila was tequila.
Wandering around Georgetown’s M Street
Once the rain let up, we strolled around Georgetown’s iconic M street– a boujee stretch of boutiques, restaurants, and wildly successful cupcake stores. I’m not in the Georgetown neighborhood often, so it was nice to stroll around and do some window shopping.
I’m saving money for an upcoming trip to Mexico, so I resisted the urge to buy anything. I can drop $200 in Urban Outfitters faster than I’d like to admit (but I will for you, Internet.) I did manage to not-so-subtly point out to my boyfriend some earrings I liked in a store window. (What? It’s my birthday soon.)
Ice cream is my thing, so there was no walking by Ben and Jerry’s. The cone half-melted before I could take the perfect Instagrammy photo, but I tried. How do other chicks make eating ice cream look so elegant?
Next time I’m in Georgetown
I usually associate Georgetown with spending money, so it was nice to have such a great afternoon for relatively cheap. Now that I know there’s stuff to do that doesn’t involve shopping, I will head back for another afternoon.
Here’s what I’ll hit up in the future.
- Paddle more of the Potomac. Definitely heading back to paddle the National Monuments route! Maybe on a SUP board next time.
- Boating in DC classes: The Yoga SUP class sounds dope– I would love to absolutely embarass myself trying to downward dog over the current.
- Explore Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park: We only scratched the surface of the C & O Canal trail, which offers 184 miles (!!!!) of beautiful scenery.
- Georgetown House Hunting: I’m a sucker for row houses, and the residential part of Georgetown offers some of the most classic and colorful streets in the district.
- Visit Dumbarton Oaks: Just learned about this one– a “Harvard University research institute, library, museum, and garden” in the Georgetown area. Apparently, the garden is epic.
Any other recommendations for things to do in Georgetown, Washington DC? Comment your favorite spots below. And if you have a business in Georgetown, reach out to be featured!