The Potomac River. First time visiting Washington, DC? Or, maybe you’re returning for a second, third or even fourth visit. Either way, there’s always something new to experience when visiting the city. I’ve said more than once a visitor could easily spend a month in Washington, DC and still not experience everything.

We’ve shared many travel tips about what to see, taste, and experience while visiting the city, but in this post we’re going to tell you about two different tours. Although, you may see some of the same monuments, parks, etc., each tour will give you a different perspective.

Potomac River

One of the most interesting features of the Potomac River, is that it actually divides Virginia from Maryland and DC, although there are multiple bridges that span the river connecting all three destinations. The river has a long history as the hub of the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) but since there is a plethora of information on the internet about the river, I’m just going to leave it to you to read more. Instead, we’re going to share how you can enjoy a lovely perspective of Washington, DC and bits of Virginia while cruising on the Potomac River.

The Washington Monument in the distance, as seen from the Potomac River.
Georgetown Waterfront

River cruises depart from the Georgetown Waterfront – Washington Harbor. The waterfront offers several eateries with spectacular views of the Potomac River. Water taxis and river cruise boats dock alongside the pedestrian walkway.

Start your tour of the river by making your way to the waterfront. We suggest taking the Metro as parking can be challenging and expensive. The closest Metro station is Foggy Bottom, and from the station it’s a 15-minute walk to the waterfront, located at 3050 K Street NW.

Once at the waterfront, find your boat, step on board, sit back and relax while taking in a unique view of Washington, DC. We thoroughly enjoyed our 45-minute sightseeing tour. So much so, I’m fairly certain were going to return sooner than later to experience the sunset tour.

River Views

The cruise departs from the Georgetown Waterfront and cruises out to National Airport before turning around and heading back to the waterfront. The 45-minute cruise time is perfect. On our way out we enjoyed the monuments and sites of Washington, DC and on our return trip we took in the views of Arlington, VA. The recorded narration is easy to hear and informative, and the staff was friendly.

Potomac River
Photo Credit: Capitol River Cruises

The boats offer table and chair seating under cover, in the back, and open air seating in the front. In case of rain clear plastic rain shades are pulled down. There is a snack bar on board (not included in the ticket price) and a restroom is onboard.

Potomac River
The Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Nightingale II.
Tour Highlights

Thank you to Capitol River Cruises for hosting our cruise. Even though we’ve spent many days exploring Washington, DC, taking a cruise on the Potomac River gave us a new perspective of the city. Here are a few photos highlighting some of the sites you’ll see and our tour video can be seen on our Youtube Channel. Please be sure to click that subscribe button and help us grow!

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Take a Hop On/Off Tour

Whenever we visit a new city, if at all possible we’ll take a hop on/off tour of the city. It’s an ideal way to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the city. Here’s the trick though, we don’t hop on/off until we’ve ridden the entire route.

Old Town Trolley

The Old Town Trolley in Washington, DC offers visitors the hop on/off experience. Although we’re quite familiar with DC, as it is our backyard so-to-speak, we took the opportunity to take our 5-year-old grandson for a ride around the city. We all thoroughly enjoyed the ride and boy do I wish I could remember the name of our driver. She was too much fun and she did a great job of engaging with the visitors on her trolley, including our grandson.

Photo Credit: Old Town Trolley Tours
Tour Stops
  1. Washington Welcome Center
  2. White House, Visitors Center
  3. National Archives
  4. Japanese American Memorial
  5. Union Station
  6. US Capitol
  7. Air & Space Museum
  8. The Wharf
  9. International Spy Museum
  10. Washington Monument
  11. Jefferson Memorial
  12. Franklin Roosevelt Memorial
  13. Lincoln Memorial
  14. National Museum of American History
  15. National Portrait Museum
Trolley Stops

Of course, this is a short list because at many of the stops visitors can disembark and experience several places within a short walking distance of the trolley stop.

The green, orange and black trolley stop signs are strategically placed along the route making it easy to wait for the next trolley to come along, which if I remember correctly is every 30 minutes. The entire route length is 90 minutes if you don’t hop on/off.

The trolleys run rain or shine from 10:00 – 4:00. The trolleys are clean and comfortable. If it’s raining there are clear plastic pull down shades. If it’s a blustery day, don’t forget your hoodies because it’s well-known Washington, DC weather can be bone-chilling. But, that just makes it all the more fun.

Visitor Center

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Tour Highlights

Thank you to Old Town Trolley for hosting our trolley tour. We enjoyed the 1-day sightseeing tour. Here are a few photos highlighting some of the many sites you’ll see.

The Potomac River & Hop On/Off

As I mentioned, we’ve shared many travel tips about what to see, taste, and experience while visiting the city, but in this post we shared with you two very different tours. Although, you may see some of the same monuments, parks, etc., each tour will give you a different perspective. We can attest to the enjoyment of both tours, one on land, one on water. Let us know what you think when you next visit Washington, DC.

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