The Potomac river divides Washington D.C. and Virginia, and kayaking on it in the late afternoon was relaxing, fun, and the Potomac River is actually quite pretty. For 15USD, you can rent a single person kayak and enjoy an hour of water floating freedom. I've also made a happy video of my kayaking adventure and you should check it out.
I went to Key Bridge Boathouse, and the rental place is right under the bridge on the D.C. side. With the rainbow stacks of kayaks, and colorfully painted wooden structures, you can't miss it. Boating in D.C. also offers two more locations at Ballpark and National Harbor, and 2 person kayaks, canoes, and standup paddle boards are available as well.
I was surprised at how easy and smooth and renting process went. After filling in a form and showing a form of ID, "go ahead and grab a life jacket, and come back by 8:15" we were told. On the dock I grabbed a paddle, a boat was put into the water, and with the help of the staff holding onto the boat, I stepped on, and then paddled away. No instructions, no warnings, all smooth and chill like the water of the Potomac.
Okay, maybe there were some safety instructions on the waiver we signed, but basically it said not to damage their boats, and not to do anything stupid, and if you do, they're not responsible for it.
Several other small boats cruised the river, we even saw people floating and drinking in the back of their boats in the water. I don't the Potomac is a very clean river, but paddling in it, it seems the river isn't that dirty after all. It may have a dark green color, but it didn't smell fishy. Paddling away from the Key Bridge, first you see bits of the classical buildings of Georgetown University peak out, then further on the view was like a lush green valley. Just the sounds of your paddle hitting the water, and sometimes music from one of the small boats near by. For a few moments, you could be anywhere in the world, in nature. We started our trip at 7 in the evening, there was still a lot of light, but no direct sun that heats up your skin or blinds yours eyes. It was a perfect time to kayak.
Paddling towards the Key Bridge, it's the view of the Bridge and the many cars and people passing by. You also see the tall office buildings in Rosslyn. This reminds you that you are in the city, but you also feel you are away in a quiet space isolated from the rush of life. You paddle to the speed you like, stop when you please, but the cars on the bridge go on and on and on.
One hour is a good amount of time for amateur paddlers, you've done quite some paddling, but you're not too tired either. We went back to the dock, returned our boats, and wished we had brought bottoms to change. Water will splash up a bit on your legs, and some will seep in from the bottom of the seats. But I was a happy and relaxed mood, and didn't mind so much going home with a wet bottom.