Travelers in DC can cruise along the Potomac River on a sunset dinner cruise, water taxi, Washington monuments cruise, DC duck tour, or even a cherry blossom springtime sail. Alternatively, keep your feet on solid ground and admire the Potomac from the Mount Vernon Trail or the East and West Potomac Parks. The latter—a stop on many sightseeing tours—is home to several popular monuments, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Well-timed visits will bring spectacular views of spring cherry blossoms and fall foliage.
Many boat tours are not accessible for wheelchair users; it's best to double-check before you book.
Don't forget sunscreen and a hat when you're out on the water.
Keep in mind that some Potomac River activities are seasonal.
How to Get There
The Potomac River has many access points throughout the DC area, including in the East and West Potomac parks. For visitors riding the Washington Metro, the station nearest the river is Foggy Bottom/George Washington University. Various sightseeing cruises and boat tours on the river depart from the downtown waterfront, Georgetown, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon.
When to Get There
While the Potomac River is free to enjoy throughout the year, the views are arguably at their best during the spring cherry blossom season and in autumn when colorful leaves create a picturesque frame for the monuments on the shore. Expect high temperatures and high humidity from June to August.
Where to Get the Best Views of the Potomac
To get a feel for the Potomac River, plan to see it from multiple locations. Besides downtown DC, the river flows through the National Zoological Park, Mount Vernon, and Great Falls, where the waterway cascades down a series of beautiful rapids. Public park land lines both sides of the river, offering ample places for a picnic.
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- Alexandria Christ Church
- Old Town Alexandria
- George Washington Masonic National Memorial
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
- National Children's Museum
- National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
- U.S. Air Force Memorial
- East Potomac Park
- Nationals Park
- Tidal Basin
- Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
- International Spy Museum
- Arlington House