Washington, D.C. is certainly not known as a paddleboard hotspot. The weather is pretty horrific at least 7-8 months out of the year. There’s no amazing beaches or crystal clear lakes in the area to paddle around.
For most, Washington, D.C. is not a place to paddleboard. However, the area has quickly become a popular paddle place due to the sheer number of tourists D.C. sees every single summer.
When combined with fit locals looking to enjoy some exercise outdoors, it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy paddling in our nation’s capital. While we don’t recommend going to D.C. solely to paddle around, like we would in a place like Key West, there are still some amazing SUP spots in Washington, D.C.
So let’s dive in. Without further ado, here are four absolutely amazing places to SUP in Washington, D.C.
-Perfect Paddles Travel Brief-
Best Time of Year to Visit:
The best times to visit Washington, D.C. for tourism purposes, are from September to November and March to May. In the autumn, the sweltering summer is gone, taking with it most of the high season tourists. (www.travel.usnews.com) However, if you are looking to spend time on the water, then the best time to visit is during the summer months from May to August with warmer temperatures.
The average temperatures during the best paddling months are as follows (in Fahrenheit)…
May 76° / 54°
June 85° / 63°
July 89° / 68°
September 81° / 59°
SUP Environments to Paddle In
SUP Activity Highlights:
One of the best ways to explore the United States capital is from the water! And an even better way to do that is with a guided tour! To look up participating outfitters in the D.C. area be sure to use our Locations/Activities guide HERE!
Perfect Paddles Deals to Get Your Ready for Your Trip:
RHEOS (Floating) Sunglasses- 15% off with Member Benefits
Duk Gear- 20% off a waterproof cell phone case with Member Benefits
Amphibian Outdoors- Save $20 on your purchase with Member Benefits
Check out more of our gear options HERE!
Interested in any of these extra activities? Be sure to head HERE to find a list of paddle pros in the area and what they offer!
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It has free admission and is open 364 days a year.
National Museum of African American History: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was established in December 2003 and opened its permanent home in September 2016 with a ceremony led by President Barack Obama.
Lincoln Memorial: The Lincoln Memorial is a US national memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument, and is in the form of a neoclassical temple. The memorial's architect was Henry Bacon.
George Washington Memorial: The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is a Masonic building and memorial located in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. It is dedicated to the memory of George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Mason.
National Gallery of Art: The National Gallery of Art, and its attached Sculpture Garden, is a national art museum in Washington, D.C., located on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, at Constitution Avenue NW.
Holocaust Museum: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history.
There is an endless amount of museums and history to explore in the D.C. area. Be sure to do a thorough search before you head there!
For reference, be sure to check out our Perfect Paddles Activities map! For the Washington D.C. Area, you will find it below:
Perfect Paddles Recommended Outfitters in the Area:
Capital SUP, Washington D.C. (Buddy Deal!)
Paddle Stroke SUP, Potomac, MD
Potomac Paddle Sports, Potomac, MD
Surf Reston, Reston, VA
Buddy Deals: Don’t forget to take advantage of our fantastic Buddy Deals for exclusive discounts for our members! To become a member head HERE.
Located a few minutes from downtown D.C. – you’ll find Kenilworth Park and Anacostia River. While not super popular as of yet, the place offers a laid-back spot to paddle around and enjoy outdoor adventures near the big city.
The 700-acre park offers a number of waterways and inlets that ensure private padding and tons of wildlife. If you’re looking to stay away from the crowds, this could be the place to SUP in D.C. for you.
There aren’t any rental areas that we found at the national park. Your best rental bet is to check out Boating in DC, as they do a great job of covering the whole area.
Potomac River Rapids
If you’re looking for a tough SUP challenge in D.C., then the Potomac River Rapids are calling your name. Here you’ll find river rapids that make paddling difficult. This is only a spot for experts to check out.
Many a local has taken to SUP river surfing in the Potomac Rapids. If you have SUP and surfing experience, feel free to check it out. For those less experienced, you’ll definitely want a guide before you embark on this SUP adventure.
If you’re looking for lessons or a guide for this SUP spot in D.C., then we recommend checking out Paddle Stroke SUP.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
If you’re looking for a specific spot to paddle in D.C. while being close to all the attractions like the White House, then you’ve found it. Theodore Roosevelt Island is a great place to place around on the Potomac River near downtown D.C.
While there are no rental outfitters on the island, you can bring your own board. If you’re looking to rent, then boating D.C. has rentals available from their Key Bridge Boathouse location. You’ll have to paddle across the river with this option – which can be quite busy at times.
For those looking to get a little further away from the city, you can check out Lake Barcroft just a little outside Arlington, VA. The small lake can be packed on weekends, but during the week you’ll find smooth waters ideal for paddling around.
If you’re in the area and looking for a rental, you could be out of luck. There aren’t too many outfitters. Your best bet is to hit up Paddle Stroke SUP, again. They service Lake Barcroft, and always do a great job.
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Address: 1492 4th St SE
District of Columbia
United StatesMember Deal: Save 10% on rentalsAddress: 1492 4th St SE
District of Columbia
United StatesMember Deal: Save 10% on rentals