I’m usually pretty active when I travel, as I like to walk most places to avoid paying for busses and subways. But my trip to Washington DC for the 4th of July weekend was next level in terms of activity. I biked almost everywhere, went hiking, spent some time on the water, and was generally a sweaty mess every single day. Until now, I’ve always thought of “active vacations” as trips to the Grand Canyon and the like. As it turns out, it’s super easy to be active while visiting a city.
I’ve listed a few ways to have an active vacation in Washington DC. I’ve done everything on this list, and can 100% recommend each activity. Be warned though, you’ll be in bed before 10pm if your trip is as active as mine was!
Rent a bike
Dotted all around DC are bikes you can rent as part of the Capital Bikeshare. 3-day passes are just $17, and you pay an extra few dollars whenever your ride is over 30 minutes. I invested in a 3-day pass and am so happy I did.
My friend and I were super ambitious our first day in DC and tried to bike from Arlington to Mount Vernon. Unfortunately, my legs couldn’t handle the pressure, so we stopped at Alexandria to take the metro the rest of the way. It was easy to do that since the bike rental stations are all over the city.
One thing to be careful of is that some of the bikes are quite crappy (bad brakes, poor steering, etc). Before you take a bike out of its dock, test the brakes as best you can to gauge whether you’ve found a good bike.
Kayak on the Potomac
My 4th of July was epic. After a big breakfast, we risked falling into the Potomac and rented a double kayak for an hour. We rented our kayak from a place right under the Key Bridge, but there are other rental spots along the river. The rental fee is quite cheap ($22 for a double kayak), and you can row wherever you want.
I highly recommend wearing a swimsuit to kayak or canoe, as you’ll likely drip water all over yourself while rowing. A water bottle wouldn’t go amiss either since DC is very warm in the summer.
Take a hike in Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park was my favorite discovery on this trip. It’s a national park that’s smack in the middle of DC (still not sure how I’ve never heard of it!). If you’re into serious hiking, this park isn’t for you. The trails are fairly easy, but it lets you escape the bustle of the city for a little while. There are quite a few postcard-worthy spots throughout the park, so bring a camera with you! If you can somehow score a dog to walk, you’ll have an even better time.
Ditch the metro
It’s easy to rely on the metro to get around DC, but it’s really not that large of a city (it’s only 10 miles across!). If you plan your days wisely, you can stay in one area of the city for most of the day, meaning you’ll be able to get around by foot. Like I mentioned before, DC is scorching hot in the summer, so bring comfy, breathable shoes to walk in.
However you choose to see Washington DC, you’re sure to love it. Though the city is small, it’s packed with things to do and so much good food (don’t worry, there will be more on that soon!). Whatever you do, bring a refillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated. The last thing you want is to melt in the heat!
Are you into active vacations? Let me know!