The Potomac River empties into the Chesapeake Bay and its ebb and flow is directly influenced by the tides. Traveling upriver from the Bay, the choppy water begins to calm and conditions are perfect even for beginning kayak enthusiasts. While the river is an ecological treasure, with many species of fish and shore birds, its true magnificence is nowhere better enjoyed than in the heart of Washington DC itself. In just under one mile of river, from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island, visitors can enjoy unparalleled views of the most iconic monuments dedicated to the history of the United States right from the waterfront.
Venturing under the George Mason Memorial Bridge leads into the Tidal Basin, a circular body of water ringed by the Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lincoln and George Mason Memorials, as well as the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Washington Monuments. The front-row views of the city’s most important monuments make it a spectacular destination, especially in springtime when Washington’s cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
On the opposite shore of the Potomac River lies Arlington Cemetery, the solemn resting place of the nation’s war dead. Just below the Cemetery is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, more commonly known as the Pentagon, its familiar five-sided structure sometimes glimpsed through the trees.
Traveling farther up the Potomac, the Lincoln Memorial becomes visible from another angle near the river’s edge. Just beyond, the tip of Theodore Roosevelt Island comes into view directly across from the infamous Watergate Hotel, site of one of the most historic break-ins in modern history. The island itself is a park-like expanse of walking trails. The beautiful Georgetown Waterfront Park lies just beyond on the right-hand side, gracing the banks of the river with lush greenery. Trendy Georgetown is the perfect spot to people-watch for political pundits, enjoy bistro dining and soak in the energy of the city. It’s also the home of Georgetown University, with much of its campus framed by the Potomac.
Beyond Georgetown, the banks become thick with trees and wild with growing things as the frenetic pace of the city begins to fall away. Enjoying the heart of Washington DC from the water allows visitors a rare and memorable opportunity to view these famous sights from a vantage point seldom seen by tourists and is the perfect choice to truly appreciate everything the city has to offer.