D.C. offers ample walking and bus tours, but for a unique view of the city — and to avoid long lines and massive crowds most local attractions draw — hop in on one of the D.C.-area’s best boating trips. Take a trip on a top-of-the-line cruise trip, or tour the area on an original World War II duck to roll through the city in style. From educational tours to a romantic dinner cruise, D.C. has it all.
50 Massachusetts Ave. Northeast
Washington, DC 20002
Price: $39 adult regular price/$35.10 adult online price/$29 child regular price/$26.10 child online price
See the sites like you’ve never seen them before via an original World War II DUKW “duck” amphibious vehicle. The 90-minute tour starts out on land at Union Station and makes its way down Pennsylvania Avenue, where its passes by popular D.C. monuments and museums. Throughout the land tour, the captain of the boat will provide historical accounts as well as original sound bites, music and speeches from World War II. Then, the amphibious vehicle heads into the Potomac River and makes its way to Gravely Point, just below the flight path of airplanes landing at National Airport.
Spirit of Washington
600 Water St. Southwest
Washington, DC 20024
Price: from $64.90 for brunch cruises/from $41.90 for lunch cruises/from $74.90
Enjoy savory culinary creations, delicious adult beverages, music and dancing aboard a Spirit of Washington D.C. cruise. Purchase tickets for the Spirit of Mount Vernon excursion, and enjoy a narrated tour along the Potomac, tasty on-board treats from the snack bar and discounted admission to Mount Vernon. Brunch cruises feature a complimentary glass of champagne upon your arrival as well as a delicious brunch buffet, a live jazz band and panoramic views of the city. Dinner cruises feature a candlelit table, delicious dinner buffet, outside observation and strolling decks and live entertainment. Spirit of Washington offers exciting lunch cruises as well.
Related: Water Parks in the DC Area
Potomac Riverboat Company
31st and K streets Northwest
Washington, DC 20007
Price: from $12 adults/$6 children age 2 to 11
Come aboard one of eight unique sea vessels and see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, the Kennedy Center and other historic sites in D.C. and Virginia. Potomac Riverboat Company offers a wide variety of boating trips, including sailing on a skipjack, a fun-filled pirate cruise for the kids, a fireworks cruise and even a canine cruise. Fresh snacks and beverages are available for purchase on select cruises. Guests who purchase roundtrip tickets may disembark at one of three docks located along the cruise route in Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria and the National Harbor to sightsee, dine and shop. Return to your original destination by boarding a later cruise.
Tidal Basin Paddleboats
1501 Maine Ave. Southwest
Washington, DC 20024
Price: $12 per hour two-person boat/four-person boat $19 per hour
Tour the Tidal Basin and get a little exercise at the same time. Located within a few blocks of the White House, Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian, a boating excursion with a Tidal Basin Paddleboat offers magnificent views of the FDR Memorial as well as the Japanese cherry blossoms plus the chance to soak up some sun and burn major calories. Large groups may reserve their paddleboats ahead of time through the online registration site. At least one passenger on each paddleboat must be 16 years old or older. All paddleboat passengers are required to wear life vests at all time.
Capitol River Cruises
3030 K St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Price: $14 adults/$7 children age 3 to 12 years old/$11 adults purchased online/$6 children age 3 to 12 years old
Capitol River Cruises offers 45-minute tours of the nation’s most recognized destinations, including the Kennedy Center, capitol and Watergate Hotel as well as the LBJ, Jefferson, Lincoln and Maritime memorials. Capitol River Cruises also offers charter boats, including the Crab Boat, from which you and your guests may enjoy all of the fresh-steamed Maryland Blue Crabs, hush puppies, corn and cole slaw you can eat. The three-hour charter also includes a full-service bar and music. At least 10 passengers are required to reserve the Crab Boat. The price for a charter boat reservation ranges between $80 and $100 per person. Add $5 per person for the full-service bar.
Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.