An Adventure Traveler’s Guide to Washington, D.C.

EWNAD0 Washington, DC at the Capitol Building.
EWNAD0 Washington, DC at the Capitol Building. | © Sean Pavone - Alamy Stock Photo

If you prefer adrenaline to museums and hiking over guided tours, you might be an adventure traveler. Go off the beaten path and journey to new heights with these eight thrilling, different experiences in Washington, D.C. From restaurants that spin to yoga on water, there is something for everyone who craves adventure.

Picnic Under Airplanes at Gravelly Point Park

Pack a picnic lunch and some bubbly and head to Gravelly Point Park for a view unlike any other. Due to its proximity to the airport, you’ll be treated to an up-close show of takeoffs and landings. If you lie back, it feels like you can touch the underside of a plane as it buzzes by.

Skydome Restaurant

We hope you don’t get dizzy because this dinner spot spins. Located on the top floor of the DoubleTree, the restaurant rotates, treating everyone to panoramic shots of the D.C. skyline and Reagan National Airport. Enjoy appetizers and a drink as you complete the 45-minute full rotation. Watch the city light up and see your favorite monuments from afar.

Hike at Great Falls

Get away from the hustle and bustle and take a trip to Great Falls State Park. This park is a quick five-mile (eight-kilometer) drive away from D.C. and has amazing views of cascading waterfalls. It takes a true adventurer to reach the most picturesque scenes—wear slip-resistant shoes and take a water bottle for a fun afternoon of rock climbing and puddle stomping.

Go Ice Skating on the Watergate Rooftop

In the winter months, the Top of the Gate bar turns into an outdoor ice rink, aptly named Top of the Skate. Strap on skates for $20 ($10 for kids), and glide along the synthetic ice with breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city and waterfront. Between laps, enjoy a spiked hot chocolate and s’mores by a firepit. The rink is open November through February. In the summer months, it opens up to a rooftop bar.

Boating in DC at Key Bridge Boathouse

Don’t despair if you missed Top of the Skate! If you’re around in the summer, explore the Potomac riverfront with a rental from Key Bridge Boathouse. Rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard (SUP), or aquatic bike and row the scenic shore (prices vary by the hour). From the river, you’ll be able to see the Kennedy Center, historic Key Bridge, Washington Monument, and Teddy Roosevelt Island. Or really challenge yourself with one of the SUP Fitness classes. The 75-minute class on the water combines SUP, paddle sprints, and weight training. They also have SUP Yoga classes to test your balance and practice.

Work out at the Lincoln Memorial

Are you a fitness nut? Start your day with a “sweatfest” at the Lincoln Memorial by joining the November Project on Wednesday mornings at 5:25 a.m. and 6:20 a.m. to run the stairs and do a high-intensity interval workout. The free workout is 30 minutes long and tailored for all exercise levels. For security reasons, leave your bag behind or be prepared to do the trekker’s workout (the same reps with the added weight of your bag). This intense workout is full of friendly faces and will allow you to explore the Memorial in a whole new way.

Ride to the top of the Washington Monument

Conquer your fear of heights and take in the views from the tallest building in D.C., the Washington Monument. Take in the National Mall, White House, Tidal Basin, and Virginia from over 500 feet (152.4 meters) in the air. The National Park Service offers limited ticketed tours daily. Plan your trip and book your tickets online. Pro tip: Book an evening tour and take in the sunset over the river. On your ride back down, enjoy learning about the various plaques and stones that states sent in to be included in the monument. (Editor’s note: The tours are suspended until Spring 2019 for construction.)

Soar to new heights at the Trapeze School New York

Have you always dreamed of running away and joining the circus? You don’t have to go far. At TSNY in D.C., you’ll perfect several tricks in your first class, including knee hang and catches—where you catapult yourself through the air into an instructor’s grasp. Sign up online; classes run around $50. Socks that protect the toes are required, and you should plan to wear tight-fitting athletic clothes.

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