14 Top Water Activities in USA's Capital Region

With the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and numerous lakes and rivers, the Capital Region is a great destination for water recreation. 

Kayak with dolphins in Virginia Beach
Kayak with dolphins in Virginia Beach
Cherry blossoms, Tidal Basin, Washington, DC, paddleboats, spring, USA, Capital Region
Rent a paddleboat to explore DC's Tidal Basin
sailboat, Annapolis, races, water, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay
Learn to sail in Annapolis, Maryland
whitewater, rafting, James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Whitewater rafting in Richmond, Virginia
Baltimore, Inner Harbor, Water Taxi, skyline, Maryland
Baltimore Water Taxi
water slide, Williamsburg, Water Country USA, Nitro Racer, Virginia, waterpark
Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Virginia
Kayak with dolphins in Virginia Beach
Cherry blossoms, Tidal Basin, Washington, DC, paddleboats, spring, USA, Capital Region
sailboat, Annapolis, races, water, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay
whitewater, rafting, James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Baltimore, Inner Harbor, Water Taxi, skyline, Maryland
water slide, Williamsburg, Water Country USA, Nitro Racer, Virginia, waterpark

1. Frolic in a Fountain

Cool off with a sprint through Georgetown Waterfront Park’s spray fountain in Washington, DC or at various splash pads around Baltimore.

2. Paddle the Potomac

Calm and convenient, the Potomac River beckons kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddlers. Any number of shops will get you kitted out and on the water in no time.

3. Whitewater Raft Through Richmond

No need to stray out of the city for this wild ride. Richmond’s James River offers a wide variety of rafting opportunities.

4. Partake in a Dragon Boat Race

The DC Dragon Boat Club welcomes all ages and abilities to try the ancient Chinese sport of dragon-boat racing at Gangplank Marina.

5. Stand-Up Paddleboard the Rapids at Great Falls Park

Local guides will supply all the knowledge and equipment you need for a safe and thrilling whitewater SUP excursion at Great Falls Park in Virginia.

6. Play at a Waterpark

Indulge in splash-worthy fun like waterslides and wave pools at Williamsburg’s Water Country USA or McGaheysville’s Massanutten Resort.

7. Experience a Mule-Drawn Boat Ride

Board a canal boat pulled by a mule at Great Falls Visitor Center for a ride back to the 1870s along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

8. Rent a Tidal Basin Paddleboat

Views of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial from the waters of Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin are stunning, particularly in the spring when the famous cherry trees are in bloom.

9. Tube the Gunpowder River

Flanked by lush woodlands, Maryland’s Gunpowder River near Monkton is a terrific spot for a leisurely summer float.

10. Tour by Water Taxi

The Baltimore Water Taxi stops at the city’s most iconic destinations, includ­ing the Inner Harbor and National Aquarium, whilst the Wharf Water Taxi offers direct routes between The Wharf and Georgetown in Washington, DC; Alexandria, Virginia; and National Har­bor, Maryland.

11. Kayak with Dolphins

May through October, take a guided kayak tour in Virginia Beach to soak up breathtaking scenery and spot dolphins in their natural habitat.

12. Learn How to Sail

Gain all the knowledge you need to safely skipper your own vessel at a sailing school in Annapolis or with DC Sail at The Wharf. 

13. Go Fishing on Buggs Island Lake

Southern Virginia’s Buggs Island Lake is one of the state’s best places to hook a largemouth bass, catfish or crappie.

14. Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole

Perfect your dive at the natural swimming pools of Blowing Springs and Cave Springs recreation areas.

 

Learn more about other outdoor activities in the Capital Region on our Outdoors & Nature page!

Visiting during another time of year? Check out top things to do in this four-season guide.

Related: 
Outdoors & Nature
City Adventures
Attractions & Family Fun