Jul 16, 2023 - Things to Do

A guide to D.C.'s new boating scene

Retro electric boats available to rent at The Wharf

Retro electric boats for rent at The Wharf. Photo courtesy of SeaSuite

Boating is booming around D.C., with more ways than ever to get out on the water.

Why it matters: Washington has always been a river town, but recent waterfront development (The Wharf, Navy Yard, etc.) has launched a variety of boating businesses at every price point.

What's new: Two self-captained fleets just docked, no license needed.

🍸DC Retro Boats: "Mad Men" styled mid-century motorboats can be rented at The Wharf for 1.5-hour jaunts. BYO food and drink (though no three-martini lunch for the captain). The four-seaters are $175 on weekdays, $225 Friday-Sunday.

🧺 GoBoat US: The cozy Danish-style "picnic boats" that launched at The Wharf just expanded to National Harbor with eight electric vessels for up to eight passengers each. Rentals start at $168 for an hour, plus extra for cushions and biminis.

GoBoat's Danish "picnic boats" at The Wharf and National Harbor
Danish "picnic boats" call for rosé all day. Photo courtesy of GoBoat US

Cast off: We also rounded up local boat rentals for every mood.

🍹 Tikis: SeaSuite Cruises runs festive "tiki boats" from Georgetown and Navy Yard. The party floats (6-18 people) can be rented for happy hour with a captain and bartender. Prices vary but start at $45 per person.

🥂 Sip and sail: Cru Classé, a luxe French sailing yacht, sets sail for private charter from The Wharf (max six guests). Chef Troy Knapp creates food and fine wine services, like a Champagne and oyster cruise ($195 per person before food/bev).

🛥️ Yachties: See the monuments from Nautiste's luxury midcentury motor yachts. Two vessels hold up to 13 guests and can be chartered for a variety of (spendy) experiences.

🇺🇲 History buffs: The tall ship Providence in Alexandria, a reproduction of a 1769 sloop, caters to a range of interests, from fam-friendly dockside tours to specialty sails with local beer/wine.

Pro paddlers: Looking for a water workout?

🛶 Boating in DC is a one-stop shop (and reservation system) for kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, and more from a bunch of D.C. area boathouses.

🚣 Potomac Paddlesports offers a wide variety of watersports lessons and tours, including cool discoveries like a monthly full moon paddle on the Potomac.

Dip your toes: Aspiring boat owners can check out Carefree Boat Club, which boasts a "country club model." Members pay dues (around $440 a month at The Wharf) and get unlimited access to 70-odd powerboats around D.C. and Annapolis — no maintenance or docking fees involved.

🚕 Water hack: You don't need to spend big to boat. Potomac Water Taxi, which launched six years ago, circulates between Georgetown, The Wharf, National Harbor, and Alexandria for $22 per person. Free tours are available for download on your phone, and cash bars serve drinks and snacks.

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