Washington, D.C., is a great destination for couples, home to stunning parks, and monuments. Visit the National Gallery of Art which houses some of the most important art pieces in the world, stroll along the National Mall and explore the manicured Smithsonian Gardens along the way. In the evening, have a romantic dinner, followed by a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Here are the best romantic things to do in Washington, D.C.
1. National Gallery of Art
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The National Gallery of Art is located in the National Mall on Constitution Avenue and is one of the country’s top art galleries. Privately established in 1937 for the public by the United States Congress, the National Gallery of Art spans across a vast campus made up of the original neoclassical West Building, which was designed by John Russell Pope, and the newer East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, as well as a beautiful Sculpture Garden.
The Gallery’s main collection includes major works of art from the Italian Renaissance period to the Middle Ages, a vast selection of European paintings, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the United States, and over 75,000 prints. The National Gallery of Art is one of the best things to do in Washington, D.C. for couples. The museum also presents a number of educational programs and community outreach programs, and it is also home to an important art research facility.
6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-737-4215
2. National Mall
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The National Mall in Washington is a large green urban space in the heart of the city that stands as a symbol of the nation and its democratic values. Stretching from the foot of the United States Capitol to the Potomac River, the Mall is the premier civic and symbolic space of the country.
The National Mall and Memorial Parks (NAMA) takes care of this vital space as well as all of the structures and monuments that can be found within it, including the White House, the State Capitol, Constitution Gardens, East and West Potomac Parks, and monuments such as the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and D.C. War Memorial, among others.
National Mall and Memorial Parks is open 24 hours a day, but the best times to visit are the early evening and during the morning, when the area is tranquil, romantic and less crowded.
900 Ohio Drive, SW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 877-444-6777
3. Wharf District
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Washington’s Southwest Waterfront has in its time been a Native American village, the city’s water entryway, a military hub, and a fish market. The city’s new Wharf District was developed as a great meeting place with spectacular water views, hot restaurants, and live entertainment as the newest and most exciting new neighborhood in the nation’s capital. A mile-long stretch of land on the banks of the Potomac River, The Wharf re-establishes Washington as a lively waterfront city. There is so much to do at The Wharf besides eating your way through the great restaurants and cafes. Strolling along the pier offers fantastic views of the river and the city. Visitors can rent a kayak and see some of the city’s famous landmarks from the water. There are frequent concerts at The Anthem as well as street performers, fun shops, and all sorts of businesses.
4. Smithsonian Gardens, Washington, D.C.
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The Smithsonian Gardens are located around museums and monuments throughout the National Mall and aim to extend the surrounding museums’ exhibits and learning environment in an eco-friendly garden setting. Open year-round, seven days a week, the Gardens offer visitors something new every season. Some of the possible attractions include horticultural exhibits, floral collections, specialty gardens, and educational programs.
The Smithsonian Gardens feature a few outdoor museums, including the Butterfly Habitat Garden, the Enid. A. Haupt Garden, the Heirloom Garden, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, all of which can be enjoyed throughout the year. The Gardens are also home to a variety of living plant, artifact, and archival collections for research and exhibition purposes.
Capital Gallery, Suite 3300, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-633-2220
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5. DC Insider Tours
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DC Insider Tours is a luxury tour company that offers visitors the opportunity to explore, uncover, and enjoy the rich history and heritage of Washington D.C. A choice of different types of tours are available to suit every need, from private chauffeured tours to walking and specialty tours. Professional and knowledgeable guides lead all tours, and they share the history of and interesting information about the city.
Visit areas of the city such as Dupont Circle and Georgetown, experience the city’s famous monuments by night, explore the many museums the city has to offer, or enjoy a specialty tour such as Ghosts, Scandals and Murder or Hail to the Cocktail. Tour groups are kept relatively small in order to ensure a personal experience, and all ages are welcome to participate. 202-810-4627
6. Cork Market & Tasting Room
© Cork Market & Tasting Room
The Cork Market & Tasting Room is located just south of the U Street Corridor in Washington and has a market-style menu accompanied by a vast selection of wines. The menu features an array of charcuterie and cheese boards, breads and crackers, homemade pasta and prepared foods, and a selection of gourmet delights such as truffle butter.
If you are looking for fun date ideas in DC, this is a great place to try. The impressive wine list boasts both local boutique wines and international vintages from around the world that can be ordered by the glass or bottle, as well as a range of spirits and beers. The Cork Market & Tasting Room is open for dinner and serves weekend brunch.
1805 14th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-265-2674
7. The Red Hen, Washington, D.C.
© The Red Hen
Established by long-time friends Michael Friedman, Michael O'Malley, and Sebastian Zutant, The Red Hen is an Italian-influenced restaurant located in the beautiful neighborhood of Bloomingdale. Wooden floors and tables and a roughly-hewn exposed brick wall create an inviting and informal atmosphere, while the menu features authentic Italian fare such as whipped ricotta crostini, mezze rigatoni, and caramelized scallops, as well as indulging desserts. The cuisine can be paired with a refreshing beverage from their selection of signature cocktails and boutique wines from Italy.
1822 First Street NW DC 20001, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-525-3021
8. Carpe DC Food Tours
Walking food tours are a great fun way of exploring any city, whether you are just a visitor or a local on the prowl with a bunch of friends. Carpe DC Food Tours offer an option to discover a unique side to DC, one tourists rarely get to see. Their guides focus on community-driven local restaurants where food is not only delicious, but it also paints the picture of the city’s diverse culture. Along with good food, you will also learn some fascinating facts about the city’s constantly changing music scene and dynamic architecture. One of the most popular tours is U Street Food Tour, which starts with a cup of tea from a fifth generation herbalist before you stroll and chat about the times of “Black Broadway” and the Jazz Era. Guests will eat at three locally owned restaurants while walking through the historic streets of Georgetown, learning about the unique neighborhood and enjoying the festive Light Art installations.
13th Street and U Street NW, Washington DC, DC 20781
9. Touchstone Gallery
© Touchstone Gallery
Touchstone Gallery is a high-quality art gallery along Washington, D.C's New York Avenue NW, located approximately half a mile between the United States Capital Building and the White House near attractions such as CityCenter DC and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The gallery, which was originally founded in 1976, strives to promote the D.C.'s region's best and brightest artistic talent and enrich the lives of its surrounding community members through a diverse slate of contemporary art exhibitions. More than 50 artists are members of the artist-owned and managed gallery and help to guide gallery policies and oversee solo exhibitions. Artists showcasing exhibitions include Linda Bankerd, Jill Brantley, Rick Braswell, Anna Katalkina, and Janathel Shaw.
901 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, Phone: 202-347-2787
10. Museum Hack
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Museum Hack offers a unique alternative to regular, run-of-the-mill museum tours. Aimed at visitors who aren’t particularly fond of museums, Museum Hack has created tours that focus on the unusual highlights of the museum. Vibrant, fun-loving guides lead the tours, and they share their passion and knowledge with each guest, creating a fun way to take in the museum’s best aspects.
The guides customize each tour to ensure an active, fun, and engaging session for everyone. If you are looking for fun things to do in DC, this is a great tour company to try. Museum Hack offers private tours for groups or families, tours for special occasions such as birthdays or bachelorette parties, and corporate team-building tours. 800-778-5531
11. Willard InterContinental Afternoon Tea
© Willard InterContinental
Willard InterContinental's afternoon tea service has been named as one of the United States' top 10 venues for British-style tea service by Travel Channel, known as one of Washington, D.C.'s most beloved dining institutions. Guests can stop in for tea service at select times throughout the year at the historic 1850 hotel, which is located within a few minutes' walking distance of the White House. An extensive selection of estate and boutique looseleaf teas are provided by the J'enwey Tea Company, accompanied by delectable tea sandwiches stuffed with elegant ingredients such as foie de canard, Chesapeake crab, and champagne grapes. A selection of housemade scones is also served up, along with gourmet tea pastries prepared fresh daily.
1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004, Phone: 202-628-9100
12. The Phillips Collection
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Located in the neighborhood of Dupont Circle, the Phillips Collection features an outstanding collection of Impressionist and modern art in an intimate and stylish setting. The private institution is based on the original 1897 Phillips house and boasts extensive new galleries that feature works by Rothko, van Gogh, Renoir, O'Keeffe, and Diebenkorn.
The Phillips Collection hosts a variety of special exhibitions and programs throughout the year, as well as symposia, lectures, workshops, and other art-focused events.
The museum also offers an award-winning educational outreach program for students and teachers. Visitors can enjoy guided group tours of the facility’s special exhibitions and permanent collection given by well-trained and knowledgeable staff.
1600 21st Street, NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-387-2151
13. Osteria Morini, Washington, D.C.
© Osteria Morini
Osteria Morini brings a taste of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy to the Yards in Washington, D.C. Known as “the Italian Breadbasket,” Emilia-Romagna is famous for being the birthplace of the flavors and ingredients typically used in Italian cuisine, including parmigiana, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and mortadella.
The restaurant’s high ceilings and exposed kitchen creates a rustic and convivial ambience that is reflected in the creative menu, which features an array of small plates, pasta, entrées, and desserts presented by Executive Chef, Matt Adler.
The wine list includes affordable wine selections from various regions throghout Italy, as well as sparkling wines like Prosecco and Lambrusco and a choice of aperitifs, digestifs, and a signature Italian-inspired cocktail list.
301 Water Street Southeast, Suite 109, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-484-0660
14. United States Botanic Garden
The United States Botanic Garden is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. It was established back in 1820 to teach people about the importance of plants to their health and that of the world. Now, 200 years later, the garden is a place of great beauty and is considered to be a living museum. It is also a wonderful place to take a romantic stroll with someone special. You can enjoy the wonderful indoor gardens of the Conservatory all year round and there is always something beautiful in bloom. Gardening enthusiasts will leave with much inspiration for beautifying their own yards.
100 Maryland Avenue S.W., Washington, DC 20001, 202 225 8333
15. garden district
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Garden district is wildly popular blend of a beer garden and a barbecue shack on Washington’s 14th Street, previously known as Standard. Most of the action is outdoors in the tradition of all beer gardens, with a few tables and a bar indoors. Garden district is the place to go for beers – American and German – and excellent barbecue sandwiches and plates of meats and sides. The large picnic tables are always packed but they close once the weather turns nasty or they run out of barbecue. It is a perfect place for some day-drinking with friends.
1801 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
16. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
© Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
You can easily find tiny Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken shop by the long line of people waiting to be served. There are no tables, so it is grab-&-go, but once you taste their interesting concoctions, sitting down will be the last thing on your mind. It will make you wonder why you did not think of putting a piece of crispy chicken on or in your favorite doughnuts - it just goes together.
Their doughnuts are large and light and the chicken is crispy and crunchy, and together they will make you smile. Doughnuts come with such sinful fillings as crème brûlée or spiced pear almond, and chicken choices include chicken fingers, chicken wings and all sorts of other combinations.
1308 G St NW, Washington, DC 20004, Phone: 202-809-5565
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17. Shakespeare Theatre Company - Harman Center for the Arts
The Harman Center for the Arts is the Washington DC home of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, which has been staging classical live theatre for more than 30 years. The company is dedicated to producing thought-provoking plays with complex characters and themes, all beautifully written by Shakespeare and many of his peers as well as more modern works by Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and several others. The company is committed to nurturing a love of classic theatre among the next generation of artists and holds Summer Camp for budding actors as well as providing classes for both children and adults.
610 F Street N.W., Washington,
DC 20004, 202 547 1122
18. Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.
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Located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Eastern Market is a vibrant farmer’s and artisan's market that has become the go-to place for delicious, local farm-fresh products and prepared foods, handmade arts and crafts, and community events. The market is divided into two sections: the South Hall Market features an array of fresh produce, meat, poultry, cheese and dairy products, bakery and deli delights, herbs and flowers while the North Hall Events Space plays host to a variety of community events throughout the year.
On weekends, the market comes alive with the addition of the Weekend Farmers’ Line, where local farmers sell their fresh local produce, and the Weekend Outdoor Market, where local artists sell handmade arts, crafts, and antiques.
225 7th Street SE, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-698-5253
19. Bullfrog Bagels
© Bullfrog Bagels
Located in Star and Shamrock Bar on H Street in downtown Washington DC, Bullfrog Bagels entered the eternal competition for the best bagels in the country. Though, instead of competing with Montreal or New York City, the baker and owner Jeremiah Cohen came up with something new: a Washington DC bagel.
He claims that Washington water and air make the yeast for his bagels unique, but his baking skills probably have something to do with the success of his delicious, chewy bagels. Whatever the reason, people are waiting in line in this no-frills, no seating place to get their share of classics like bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese, or the out of the ordinary bagel with poached eggs, corned beef hash, pastrami and more.
1341 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, Phone: 202-494-2609
Hawthorne DC is a unique restaurant and bar in Washington, D.C.'s trendy U Street Corridor, offering five separate bar areas over four stories. The restaurant was opened in 2016 by Fritz Brogan and Reed Landry, serving up delectable New American gastropub fare at brunch, happy hour, and dinner. Small plates highlight bar fare such as jumbo lump crab bites, loaded tater tots, and cheesesteak spring rolls, while entrees focus on comfort fare such as shrimp po'boy sandwiches and baked mac and cheese. Seating areas include a rooftop bar, offering a retractable rooftop and spectacular views of area landmarks such as the United States Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.
1336 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009, Phone: 202-853-9194
Tucked away in the hills of northwest Washington, D.C., Hillwood is a beautifully preserved Georgian mansion and museum open to the public. The estate was owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, who donated the spectacular property and all of her art to the public, some of which include the largest collection of Russian Imperial art outside of Russia and an unrivaled collection of 18th-century decorative art and Fabergé Eggs.
Visitors are welcome to explore and enjoy the magnificent landscaped gardens and natural woodlands that surround Hillwood, as well as a special collections research library and an informal café. Hillwood is open six days of the week and welcomes visitors from around the globe.
4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-686-5807
22. Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
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The National Portrait Gallery is dedicated to sharing the rich heritage of America by portraying the people who shaped and developed the culture and history of the nation. The Gallery is based in one of Washington's oldest public buildings, a National Historic Landmark and one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. It shares its space with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and is one of the best things to do in DC.
The Gallery’s collection showcases the people who made their mark on the country and its culture, including leaders such as George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., activists such as Rosa Parks and Sequoyah, and icons of pop culture such as Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth. The Lunder Conservation Center boasts an innovative new space that allows visitors to look through floor-to-ceiling windows and watch conservators at work.
8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-633-8300
23. Fish Taco
© Fish Taco
Fish Taco is a neighborhood taqueria offering three locations throughout suburban D.C., including locations in Cabin John, Chevy Chase, and North Bethesda. The casual chain is perfect for couples looking for a quick lunch bite, using locally-sourced seasonal ingredients to craft Baja-inspired dishes ordered at the restaurant's register. Favorite plates include the restaurant's giant burritos, beer-battered tacos, and Chihuahua cheese quesadillas, which may be ordered as vegetarian dishes or filled with adobo steak, chicken, pork carnitas, barbacoa brisket, or blackened fish. Rotating draft beers are also served, along with a variety of wines, frozen margaritas, and non-alcoholic beverages.
7945 Macarthur Blvd, Cabin John, MD 20818, Phone: 301-229-0900
24. The Pub and the People
© The Pub and the People
The Pub and the People is an up-and-coming Bloomingdale tavern that was voted as D.C.'s best neighborhood bar in 2017 and 2018. The American-style tavern serves a menu of globally-influenced gastropub fare, including five-spice duck breast, black pepper tofu, and sumac and chickpea burgers, with clever dessert options such as bread pudding and pub brownies topped with liquor-infused ice cream. A large local draft beer list is offered, along with a selection of craft cocktails, whiskeys, and fine wines. After the bar's kitchen closes, hot Republic Kolaches are served as bar bites. Happy hour specials are offered on weekdays, and Geeks Who Drink trivia events are presented periodically.
1648 North Capitol St NW, Washington, DC 20001, Phone: 202-796-5820
25. Purple Patch
© Purple Patch
Purple Patch is a bi-level Mt. Pleasant restaurant that was D.C.'s first Filipino restaurant at its 2015 opening. Since then, the restaurant has been named as one of the city's best by top area food critic Tom Sietsma and has landed on Tablelog's list of the top 10 best Filipino restaurants in the nation. Owner and chef Patrice Cleary serves a full menu of Filipino favorites for brunch, lunch, and dinner, including appetizers such as miso chicken wings and entrees such as eggplant adobo, pancit canton, and alimasag fried rice. A limited selection of classic American fare is also served, including ribeye steaks and house hamburgers served on brioche buns. Downstairs, a dimly-lit bar area serves a variety of beers, wines, and craft cocktails.
3155 Mt Pleasant St NW, Washington, DC 20010, Phone: 202-299-0022
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a world-renowned performing arts center located on the Potomac River next to the Watergate Complex. Established in 1971, the Center presents an array of performances and shows, including ballet, theater, dance, jazz, chamber, and folk music, as well as a range of multi-media presentations for both adults and children.
Working in conjunction with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Symphony Orchestra, and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, the Center hosts approximately 2,000 performances each year, as well as Center-related touring productions and television and radio broadcasts.
Visitors to the Kennedy Center can take advantage of a variety of guided tours, which cover the magnificent Hall of States Hall of Nations and five of the Center's main theaters, including its three grand performance halls - the Concert Hall, Opera House, and Eisenhower Theater.
2700 F St NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-416-8000
Compass Rose is a friendly, neighborhood tavern that offers international street food in a warm and welcoming environment. Opened by owner Rose Previte, who found inspiration throughout her travels, Compass Rose serves a menu of food from around the world, including chili crab from Singapore, grilled calamari from Greece, and chicken skewers from Tunisia.
Vegetarian options include Bhel Puri Chaat from India and Khachapuri from Georgia while the drinks menu features a range of signature cocktails from across the globe. Compass Rose is open for lunch and dinner and weekend brunch. They do not take reservations.
1346 T Street, NW, Washington, D.C., Phone: 202-506-4765
Rock Creek Park Horse Center
Although visiting a horse park is not everyone’s idea of a romantic outing, horse-loving couples will enjoy spending a few hours at the Rock Creek Park Horse Center. A trail ride at the horse center offers you the chance to enjoy some beautiful outdoor scenery while your mount carries you through lovely Rock Creek Park. There is a good chance that you will see some local wildlife along the route and you can also tour the barn and find out all about stabling either before or after your trail ride. You do not need prior experience to join a trail ride – just a love of horses.
5100 Glover Road N.W., Washington, DC 20015, 202 362 0117
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Attraction Spotlight: The Potomac River, Washington DC
Stretching over 400 miles, the Potomac River flows from the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia to the Atlantic Ocean, via Chesapeake Bay. It's one of the largest rivers on the Atlantic coast, with more than 5 million people living in its watershed, and is a highly historic and important river for the United States, with George Washington himself deciding to establish the nation's capital on the banks of the Potomac River due to the advantages it provided as both a water source and trade route.
The Potomac River flows right through Washington D.C. alongside world-famous monuments like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the historic area of Georgetown, the Pentagon, and more. This makes it a highly popular recreational and touristic part of the nation's capital, with many great parks and waterfront locations to be found all around DC where people can walk, kayak, fish, and simply admire the beauty of the Potomac River and the surrounding scenery.
The Potomac runs alongside or through many major areas and neighborhoods all around Washington D.C. including Georgetown, Palisades, and Foxhall Crescent, continuing up past Bethesda. There are lots of great locations for people to enjoy the Potomac River in Washington D.C. and here are some details on the most popular spots:
- Georgetown – This historic neighborhood, named after George Washington himself, is located right on the Potomac River and is also the home of many Washington D.C. monuments like the Old Stone House, Volta Bureau, and PNC Bank. Filled with high end stores and popular restaurants, it's a lovely neighborhood to explore, with kayaking on the Potomac River and cycling popular in this area. Head down to Georgetown Waterfront Park for some beautiful views of the Potomac.
- National Harbor – Opened back in 2008, National Harbor has swiftly developed into one of the hottest spots in Washington D.C. for locals and tourists to congregate and have good times. The area is filled with hotels, restaurants, stores, condos, and more, as well as a fully-featured marina. Kayaking around the National Harbor is very popular and the many boats around here make it a great spot to admire the Potomac River.
- George Washington Memorial Parkway - Located in Arlington, right by Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is another beautiful spot to appreciate and admire Potomac River. A National Park, this area houses various memorials and beautiful green spaces, as well as providing easy access to many other DC attractions and landmarks.
There are many different activities to enjoy on the Potomac River in Washington D.C. The simplest and most common activity of them all is to simply walk along various stretches of the river, notably through the locations listed above like Georgetown and National Harbor, as well as other areas like the neighborhood of Alexandria and Great Falls National Park, which is located a little drive north of the capital. There are many different parks and places to simply sit and appreciate the Potomac River and snap some photos of it too.
Cycling and running also offer ways to stay fit while enjoying the Potomac. Various hiking and cycling trails can be found all around Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, with one of the most popular being the Capital Crescent Trail which starts off in Georgetown and heads up to Bethesda. The Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath is another good option and also begins in Georgetown. These trails are used all year long and it’s not uncommon to see many people jogging and cycling along the route of the Potomac at all times of year. You might even spot some fisherman looking for urban bass at locations like Fletcher’s Cove.
Of course, it’s also possible to actually get out there on the waters of the Potomac River itself. Kayak rentals and guided kayaking tours can be found all around Washington D.C. from companies like Calleva's Liquid Adventures - 25 Ericsson Rd, Cabin John, MD 20818 (301 216-1248) and Active Nature - Poolesville, MD (202 262-5312) being just a couple of examples. Many of these kayaking tours take in various big sights and landmarks around D.C., or you can simply rent some kayaks and head out on the Potomac for your own adventures. Sightseeing boat tours along the Potomac River can also be enjoyed at various locations.
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