When it comes to iconic American cities, Washington, DC, needs no introduction. But what if we told you that there’s an entirely different way to experience this historic capital? Join us on a captivating day trip with Bart de Zwart as he unveils the hidden wonders of Washington DC from the vantage point of a paddleboard.
Washington DC is a city that exudes grandeur, from its neoclassical monuments to world-renowned museums. But there’s more to it than meets the eye, especially for those with a penchant for adventure. Bart, a seasoned explorer, was pleasantly surprised by the city’s charm during his visit with his daughter.
From the bustling streets to the tranquil waterways, Washington DC offers a unique blend of urban and natural beauty. Bart packed his trusty Starboard 14′ x 32 Touring double chamber inflatable board for a day of exploration that would leave anyone in awe.
When I visited my daughter last spring, I was surprised at how nice of a city Washington DC is. Washington, DC, the U.S. capital, is a compact city on the Potomac River, bordering the states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s defined by imposing neoclassical monuments and buildings. It’s also home to iconic museums and performing arts venues such as the Kennedy Center. Old Town, Downtown, Museum district, all the monuments and parks, and most important in this story, the waterways in and around the city.
Another pleasant surprise (for a former Dutch guy who is now also American) was how nice it is to bicycle in Washington. There are many good bike paths and a great bike share system where you can take a bike almost anywhere for a few dollars and drop it off somewhere else. We used bikeshare.com.
So the next time we visited Soleil (our daughter), I brought my favorite inflatable. A Starboard 14’ x 32 Touring double chamber. I use this board for everything from one-week expeditions to weekend camping trips or short-day paddles like this one.
And that is what we did; we took a bike from the share station in front of her house, drove down to Theodore Roosevelt Park, and dropped off our bikes.
It was a beautiful day, with blue skies, light wind, and a pleasant temperature. We pumped up the board right next to the Potomac River, where you feel like you are in the countryside, away from the busy and loud city life.
We jumped right in. You can paddle around the park and stop at one of the small beaches to see the birds, deer, or other wildlife. And all of this, a stone’s throw away from town.
We paddled under the big impressive bridges, the Memorial Bridge, the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Key Bridge. We paddled a few miles down the river. We passed by historic buildings like the Kennedy Center, The Lincoln Memorial, and the tall Washington Monument in the background—much American history in just a few miles of paddling.
When you paddle around Potomac Park, you can go past The Wharf, have a small lunch there, and paddle around Thomas Jefferson Memorial to get back to where we started at Theo Roosevelt Park.
This is roughly a 10-mile trip and one of the best ways to see the ‘other’ side of Washington DC.
Have fun, get out there, and explore.