With the Kids: Canoeing Around Washington and Beyond

The C& O Canal is just one waterway children can explore by canoe. The region offers plenty of options.
The C& O Canal is just one waterway children can explore by canoe. The region offers plenty of options. (By Dan Ward)
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By Jessica McFadden
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, August 7, 2009

Canoeing is an iconic activity of summer. Therefore, as parents, it is our duty to remove the Wii remotes from our children's hands and replace them with paddles.

Ann Wilson, 68, of Front Royal, Va., agrees. Wilson has been canoeing and kayaking with her children and grandchildren since moving to the Shenandoah River valley in 1970, and she deems paddling an ideal family outing. "When my family and I are on the river, it's like another world," she says. "We're together with no TV, no telephone, just the birds and nature and our companionship. It's peaceful and relaxing; there's nothing like it."

Wilson's experience of generations together on the water, paddles in hand, is something to which Michael Robbins, 39, of Silver Spring aspires. "My best memories growing up were canoeing and rafting, and I hope they will be part of my 3-year-old son Alexander's experience as well," Robbins says.

Whether your family is the outdoorsy adventure type, or your clan's definition of roughing it is a picnic sans table, here are four options for your crew to get a paddle in hand and explore local waters by canoe.

The Boathouse at Fletcher's Cove

4940 Canal Rd. NW; 202-244-0461.


City mice who would like to start slow should head directly for the Boathouse at Fletcher's Cove. Nestled between Key and Chain bridges, it has been affectionately called Fletcher's since the 1850s. Families can opt to navigate the Potomac River or the C&O Canal. "People always say that when you're out on the river it feels like you're a million miles from the city, but you're barely out of town," says longtime Fletcher's manager Dan Ward. "Coming through the tunnel to Fletcher's and renting a boat is like going through a time warp or going on a vacation."

If you'd like to miss the rush hours for rentals, arrive early with the fishermen: Fletcher's opens at 7 a.m.

Hours: Through Oct. 31, open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Last rental at 5 p.m.

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