When the crowded streets, city smog and urban claustrophobia starts to make your head spin, it’s time to swap the city for some much-needed nature. Lucky for you, you don’t have to travel too far to escape the hustle of our nation’s capital— outdoor activities near DC are calling!
Journey away from the bustling streets of Washington, D.C., and take full advantage of all the natural wonders just a stone’s throw away. You can find endless scenic hikes, picturesque bike trails, tranquil lakes and rivers within a few hours, perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Whether you prefer a relaxing float down gentle river currents, an adventurous raft trip, or an excursion exploring serene mountain landscapes, these activities offer an incredible opportunity to connect with nature and make unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags, leave the city behind, and embark on an unforgettable outdoor adventure along the beautiful Shenandoah River and beyond.
Best Outdoor Activities Near DC
Here are our favorite outdoor activities near Washington, DC, that are great for all ages!
Hiking Trails Near Washington DC
Great Falls Park
Located just 15 miles northwest of D.C., Great Falls Park offers several opportunities for spectacular views of the Potomac River and its powerful waterfalls. Several trails have varying difficulty levels, including the popular Billy Goat Trail.
Shenandoah National Park
About 70 miles from the city, you’ll reach Shenandoah National Park and its breathtaking outlooks, trails and waterfalls. You can explore a section of the famous Appalachian Trail or venture out on shorter hikes like Hawksbill Summit or Dark Hollow Falls.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
You don’t need to hop on a plane to explore an island near Washington, DC! Located in the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island offers a tranquil retreat with a network of easy trails to wander. Enjoy wooded paths, Potomac River views, marshland boardwalks, and a memorial plaza honoring the 26th President of the United States.
Prince William Forest Park
Situated about 35 miles south of D.C. in Triangle, Virginia, Prince William Forest Park offers over 37 miles of enchanting forest walks within its 15,000 acres of protected woodland. The park features diverse ecosystems, historical sites, and scenic trails like the South Valley Trail and Laurel Loop.
Biking Routes Near DC
Capital Crescent Trail
The Capital Crescent Trail is an iconic must-bike near DC that stretches from Georgetown to Bethesda, Maryland. The 11-mile trail travels along the historic Georgetown Branch rail line and along the Potomac River for a serene, flat, and well-maintained biking experience.
Mount Vernon Trail
If you’re looking for a longer route to really get your legs pumping, the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail connects George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia to Theodore Roosevelt Island in D.C. Along the way, you’ll be able to take in magnificent views of the Potomac River and pedal past historical sites like Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington Monument. It is paved and well-maintained, making it a popular choice for road biking.
Rosaryville State Park
Rosaryville State Park is a must-visit spot if you crave more dirt and downhills on your biking excursion. This area offers a network of trails designated for mountain biking, with over 10 miles of singletrack trails with varying difficulty levels. From technical trails to fast descents, it’s a great spot for mountain bikers to challenge themselves and enjoy the natural surroundings.
Shenandoah River Adventures
Relax and have fun on a half-day, full-day or multi-day river rafting trip on the Shenandoah! With our four-person and six-person rafts, your group can experience gentle rapids among some beautiful scenery.
If you are craving something a little slower, a tubing float should be the first activity on your list. Shenandoah river tubing rentals are among the most popular attractions near Shenandoah National Park! We provide a tube and a shuttle service, so all you need to worry about is enjoying the river’s slow current.
Test your paddle skills on a welcoming and approachable river! With one or two-person kayaks, you can take your time paddling the eddies and rapids of the river. Front Royal Outdoors can help you plan a half-day, full-day or multi-day Shenandoah kayaking trip.
A Shenandoah canoe trip is an ideal way to enjoy the water if you want to keep your group paddling together. You can take up to three people (two recommended per canoe) on a half-day, full-day or multi-day trip for a relaxing and exhilarating experience.
Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)
It’s not a trend – stand-up paddle boarding is here to stay! This balance challenge is fun for people of all ages and offers a great way to work out or explore the river at a slower pace. Enjoy the sun as you float where the current takes you!
Want a guided Shenandoah River fishing experience that will get you as close as possible to some bites? Our team can guide you to some of the most popular fishing spots on the Shenandoah River and show you beautiful views. Check out the latest fishing report and license information before you go.
Camping in Shenandoah National Park
Sometimes one day just isn’t enough. If you want an overnight adventure and an easy drive from Washington DC, Shenandoah National Park and the neighboring areas should be a no-brainer.
Check out this blog post to learn all about the Shenandoah camping options in and around the park! And if you have a four-legged friend coming along for the ride, we have listed some pup-friendly camping options near Shenandoah too. From glamping near Shenandoah National Park to comfy cabins, we’ve got you covered!
The sun is shining, and the river is pumping— now is the time to escape the city and find some outdoor adventure near Washington, DC! If you end up in the Front Royal Area on your trip, check out all the thrilling and relaxing river activities we offer to plan a memorable afternoon on the Shenandoah River!