Rent a Boat or Bike This Summer in Georgetown

It’s summertime, and people everywhere are thinking about recreation and getting out of the apartment.

Many renters like to boat, and many more like to bike. Unfortunately, hardly any Washington, D.C., renter owns a boat, and despite the latest craze, many, if not most, don’t own a bicycle, either.

Well, I’ve got a solution for you: Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown. Here, the outdoors-minded Washingtonian can paddle out on the mighty Potomac or pedal a bike on capital streets for a few hours without purchasing either. Thompson Boat Center has roots back to 1960 and has an interesting history for those who might be curious.

Potomac River (pokerfloat via Flickr)

Into the wild: Urban unsightliness gives way to arresting, natural compositions as you leave the city and head south along the Potomac. (pokerfloat via Flickr)

[ Related: Rock Creek Park a National Treasure at Your Footsteps ]

Since these are outdoor activities, this is a seasonal operation, with bike rentals starting in mid-March, boat rentals starting sometime in April (or when water temperatures are a steady 55 degrees), and both ending in late October.

Their bread and butter is, of course, boating, and there are three types of boat rentals here: kayaks, canoes and rowing shells. The first two are for everybody; the latter is for experienced rowers.

Kayaks, both single (sit-in) and doubles (sit-in or ocean), rent for $15 an hour/$35 a day, $20 an hour/$45 a day, respectively. Here is an excellent primer on the different types of kayaks. Canoe rentals go for $14 an hour/$35 a day, and can hold two-to-three adults and two small children.

Now we move on to the rowing shells. In order to rent one of these, you must be certified. There are two types of rowing: sculling, which is rowing with two oars, and sweep rowing, which is rowing with one ore. One-person sculls rent for $16 an hour; two-person sculls go for $26. Sweep boats contain four or eight rowers and are rented at $10 per seat; a sweep boat requires a coach at the tune of $75. If you plan on sweep rowing, you’ll need to contact the company ahead of time.

Boat rentals begin at 8 a.m. and must be returned by 6 p.m. (with the last rental at 5 p.m., incidentally). However, the center does provide a multiple row pass, which offers you more time on the water.

Thompson Boat Center also has lessons and programs. Lessons are limited to one- or two-week sessions, while programs run from 4 to 13 weeks. These courses can cost anywhere from $30 to $425, so depending on what you choose, there could be a substantial financial commitment on your part. Here’s more information on their FAQ page about lessons, programs and other boating topics.

Switching over to bikes (which, thankfully, is a lot less complicated), you can rent an adult cruiser at the center from mid-March to late October for $10 an hour or $30 a day.

[ Related: Get Pumped for Your Favorite Team at the Rhino Bar in Georgetown ]

Like the boats, they’re available for rent at 8 a.m. and must be returned by 6 p.m. (with the last rental at 5 p.m.). Kids’ bikes are available, though in limited supply. They also provide helmets, baskets, lockers and bike locks free of charge.

For bike-friendly streets, check out this D.C. metro area map provided by Ride the City. To tell you the truth, it’s kind of confusing, but being the techie you probably are, you’ll make better use of it than I did.

Thompson Boat Center also provides boat storage and will even help you host a regatta. Of course, if you’re in that deep, not only wouldn’t you have bothered with this post, but you wouldn’t be reading this blog, either.

Happy boating and biking.

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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