What boaters find when they arrive in Cambridge, is a wonderfully boatable, friendly and walkable city. What often surprises, and always delights them, is...
Cruising up the majestic Potomac River – the second largest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay – is a breathtaking rite of passage for any boater. In 1608 John Smith mapped the Potomac, President George Washington was born, lived and died on it, and our nation’s capital was established on it. It’s a waterway that shaped our country. It’s as enticing and intriguing now as it was then. And, once you get close to the nation’s capital, one of the most famous waterfronts in the U.S. is on the horizon and waiting to be explored.
The Potomac, from end to end, meanders 405 glorious miles from Point Lookout, Maryland all the way up to Fairfax Stone Historical Monument State Park in West Virginia.
If you’ve passed the wide mouth of the Potomac River as you’ve cruise up and down the Chesapeake Bay, but never ventured in, don’t wait another season. Chart a course that will allow you to soak in the river’s history and sheer size, stop in places you’ve never visited, and experience our nation’s capital by boat.
Cruising Up the Potomac
Not far from the Chesapeake Bay, but a world away from the hustle and bustle, is beautiful and serene Hague, Virginia. It’s located in the heart of Virginia’s historic Northern Neck, a peninsula wedged between the Potomac and the Rappahannock Rivers. Its shoreline is pristine, and its waterfront is picturesque. The town itself will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a place where life is enjoyed at a slower pace. While there, you can visit one of their many excellent vineyards, General’s Ridge Vineyard and Winery. If you want to bone up on some history, make your way to the statuesque Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park. It has an intriguing past that is sure to draw you in. Another stop you’ll want to make is the St. Clement’s Island Museum. There, you’ll learn about Maryland’s earliest history and Potomac River heritage.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Hague, the marina to stay at is Coles Point Marina & RV Resort. It sits on the Potomac River, right on the outside of the Chesapeake Bay. Once you arrive at Coles Point, you have nothing more to do than kick back and relax. It’s a great destination for boaters, RVers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Guests revel in a wide array of resort-style amenities that not only keep them comfortable, but keep them busy all day long. One of the most popular spots for boaters at the marina is Tim’s at Coles Point. Crab, drink and water lovers from around Virginia’s Northern Neck and Maryland stop in regularly for the food and entertainment, and stay for the spectacular Potomac River sunsets and hospitality.
About half way up the Potomac you’ll come upon Colonial Beach, Virginia. This quaint riverside resort town has the second-longest public beach in Virginia. You can walk the shops, pubs and restaurants or relax on the beach with your toes in the sand. Chances are you’ll also catch a glimpse of our national symbol, the bald eagle. This entire region is renowned for bird watching. And if you enjoy speed, It’s also the home of the Colonial Beach Dragway.
Quantico, Virginia, about 36 miles outside of Washington, DC, is known for its “Steins, Vines & Moonshine Trail” and growing arts and entertainment scene. It’s a port that has a distinct vacation getaway feeling. It also has, as expected, a deep history, Civil War Battlefields and historical museums. And, it’s home to the largest U.S. Marine Corps base, Marine Corps Base Quantico.
A short cruise farther up the river, you’ll find fun and entertainment around every corner at the waterfront wonderland that is National Harbor. You can enjoy it all, from waterside trails, to a neighborhood filled with restaurants, pubs, shops, culture and more. It’s also the place where you can soar through the sky over the Potomac, and enjoy a magnificent sunset, on the famous Capital Wheel. The Harbor is a unique destination in that it offers lots of family-friendly activities as well as a vibrant nightlife. Don’t miss an event at MGM! With an amazing array of live shows to the world renowned casino, MGM National Harbor is truly a destination in and of itself. The top stop to dock in the heart of the neighborhood, is National Harbor Marina, the premier marina in the region. The marina is a first-class facility with state-of-the-art floating docks, and superyacht capabilities. And as you relax on your boat’s deck in the evening, you can delight in views of downtown DC and Old Town Alexandria.
Another hot new waterfront neighborhood is The Yards in DC. It’s conveniently located on the Anacostia River, between Nationals Park and the Washington Navy Yard. It’s a must see! Packed with award-winning restaurants, breweries and specialty shops, it also hosts frequent live music, special events and festivals at the Yards Park all year long. While there, be sure to take in a ball game at Nationals Park. The new park “redefines modern sports facility architecture” and is the cornerstone of this lively neighborhood. The Yards Marina is the perfect place to dock to stay in the middle of it all! This 52-slip marina is sweetly placed on the waterfront of the Yards’ 10 square blocks of fine dining, craft breweries, luxury apartments and popular retailers.
If you’re not familiar with DC, you may not be aware of all the buzz around the District Wharf in DC. It’s the newly developed waterfront destination that has reestablished DC as a waterfront city and premier vacation scene. It’s an extraordinary, mile-long stretch along the Potomac that is alive with restaurants, shops, residences, and businesses—all complemented by epic views and a fresh and vital culture. With something for everyone, the Wharf has delicious street vendors to full-blown five-star dining restaurants. The Anthem, the live music venue is also famous for bringing large scale acts, to a more intimate setting. Experience all of this grandeur right at The Wharf Marina. The new piers and slips can accommodate up to 300ft vessels, and boaters have access to everything new on-site including the fuel dock, laundry facilities, event space, patio and Dock Shop.
If you’re itching to stretch your legs after a long boat cruise, DC is the place to do it. Just north of the Wharf is the National Mall. The Mall boasts an astounding group of free monuments and memorials. From classic art to the wonders of aviation and our natural world, the Mall has something for everyone. These destinations are easy to get to and open 365 days a year. You just can’t leave DC until you’ve seen the Lincoln Memorial, National Gallery of Art, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, National Air & Space Museum, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And they are just a fraction of what DC has to offer by way of arts, history and culture. You’ll want to give yourself a few days to see it all.
We’ve shared just a fraction of what the Potomac River has to offer boaters cruising its shores. There’s enough fun and adventure for a lifetime of trips up the great Potomac.