When we travel to a new city near a body of water, one of the first things we like to check out is a boat tour. Boat tours often give you a different perspective of the city and draw your attention to landmarks you might not have spotted while exploring the streets. Plus, you can take pictures of your travel buddies with a beautiful skyline in the background. And possibly sassy, wind blown hair.
Because boat tours tend to point out unique landmarks, we find that even boat tours in our familiar city of Washington, DC can be an adventure. We recently found DC Harbor Cruises and boarded the Patriot II for a 60 minute trip down Washington Channel into the Potomac River. This particular tour was narrated as we passed points of interest with fun music playing in between. This provided a nice balance of fun facts and relaxation.
One of the first things we saw was the U.S.S. Sequoia, also known as the President’s Yacht. The U.S.S. Sequoia has been used by Presidents and Vice Presidents from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter for private social events and family gatherings. While the President’s Yacht is usually viewed by the public from the outside, it is has a large collection of presidential photographs and original memorabilia inside. Now privately owned, the U.S.S. Sequoia is available to rent and can be found in the Gangplank Marina.
Next, we witnessed the Titanic Memorial – a thirteen-foot-tall granite figure of a man with arms outstretched. This statue was built by the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association to honor the men who gave their lives so that women and children might be saved. Every year the association gathers at this site in DC to commemorate the disaster, raising a toast at the minute the great ship sank.
As our boat approached the end of the channel, we got excellent views of Fort McNair and the National War College’s Roosevelt Hall. Built from 1903 to 1907, Roosevelt Hall is an immense Beaux Arts-style building housing numerous classrooms, libraries, and portraits. It even has busts of prominent American military figures including Theodore Roosevelt himself. Originally designed to be a central part of a 50 building complex, this was the only building was actually built.
Of course, the boat tour is also a great opportunity to see the city’s beauty from the water. As we pulled into the Potomac, we could spot many of Washington’s historical landmarks and bridges. The boat cruise also sailed near Regan National Airport which allowed us to see the planes land and take off up close.
DC Harbor Cruises offers a variety of seasonal, happy hour, and specialty cruises throughout the year. You can find all tour and ticket information on their website and follow @DCHarborCruises on Twitter.a
In general, the boat tours in DC can sometimes get expensive, but we have found LivingSocial and Groupon offer a number of boat tour deals through the year. We purchased tickets for this particular cruise on Groupon. Deals for boat tours in DC tend to pop up right as the seasons change.
As a general tip, we recommend you bring a light jacket because the wind can make it chilly on the boat. A hair tie might also be helpful if you have long hair. DC Harbor Cruises does not allow outside food or beverage but offers a fully stocked snack bar with snacks, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic beverages for an additional cost.
After the tour, we ate a late lunch at Phillip’s, an excellent regional seafood restaurant. Usually, we have to trek to Baltimore to find the epic crab cakes Phillip’s is famous for so we were pretty excited to find this one nearby. We opted for crab cake sandwiches off the menu for this trip, but we also noticed they offer a weekend all-you-can-eat buffet for $30. So if you love seafood, need a fun place to take a friend, or haven’t eaten in a couple of days – we suggest you check out the buffet.
Boat Lovers, Families, Couples
Tours start around $30 but look out for deals on LivingSocial and Groupon for as much as 50% off!
Waterfront – Green line (About 5 minutes away)
L’Enfant Plaza – Blue, Orange, Green, and Yellow line (About 10 minutes away)