Every area has its own flavor when it comes to the best outdoor experiences that suit the landscape of the region. Southern California is a haven for coastal watersport. Colorado is home to some of the most epic hiking in the country. Tennessee has a robust climbing scene. And Washington, DC has an appetite and the means for great trail running and biking. We all have our own thing, but there are always unique opportunities to get outdoors during the summer as well. You may not do these things_ every_ weekend, but they are great to hit up at least once while they are available or while you are nearby.
Here are four must-do summer adventures around DC:
1. Kayak Beneath July Fourth Fireworks
There is no place more symbolic to celebrate Independence Day than in the Nation's Capital. Every year, the District is flush with parades, outdoor concerts, festivals, and of course, fireworks on the National Mall at nightfall—all wonderful ways to commemorate our nation’s independence. Another star-spangled option is to hop on a kayak and watch the capital fireworks soar overhead as colorful light reflects off of the Potomac River. [Boating in DC](www.boatingindc.com) offers a perfect evening excursion for viewing one of the country’s greatest firework displays, without all of the crowds that come along with it. Pack up a picnic the day of and head out a little early to sit beneath a spectacular mid-Atlantic sunset. Availability fills up so book in advance .
2. Camp the Great Outdoors at Assateague Island
Assateague Island State Park is the only oceanfront in Maryland, and there, you can camp right on the beach. With Sinepuxent Bay to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the two-mile-long bayside-ocean split offers a diverse mix from ocean fishing and wildlife viewing, to swimming and simply relaxing under the sun on the beach. Kayak or canoe secluded marshy coves to get a view of many species’ of plants, birds, as well as deer and other wildlife; or wander the coastline and catch a glimpse of the area’s biggest draw—wild horses, which you won’t find anywhere else nearby.
Assateague is notoriously rugged in certain aspects (sun, insects, wind) and as a protected area, rules are strict, so preparation is important. Once all of the details such as sunscreen, repellent, and shelter are squared away, you’re in for a truly unique experience in one of the region’s most talked about and historic outdoor destinations.
Assateague Island and neighboring Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are among the most visited wildlife refuges in the country welcoming 1.5 million visitors each year, so plan in advance. Get more info on camping, lodging, and access from the National Park Service.
3. Whitewater Raft with the Rivermen
This is a bit of a hike from DC (about five hours driving), but West Virginia is home to some of the most exciting white water river experiences in the country. While it is a ways away, the nature in the area is pristine. Paddle through gorges draped in wilderness, across big runs, and through big waves via whitewater on the New and Gauley Rivers. Sounds intense, right? It can be. Or it can be easy, depending on how you want to roll on down the river.
Adventures tailored by the Rivermen are suited for all skill levels and welcome outdoor adventurers as young as six years old. For 35 years, the Rivermen have been outdoor industry leaders in West Virginia and in the entire mid-Atlantic area designing outdoor adventures for individuals, families, couples, and groups.
In addition to the whitewater adventure, this family-owned and run operation is also an all-inclusive resort that brings guests out on a variety of land and water-based adventures. Rock climbing, zip-lines, mountain biking, stand-up paddling, climbing and rappelling, and roving mountainous West Virginia on ATVs are just some of the most popular activities provided by the camp. Thorough instruction and safety are paramount for all excursions, making the Rivermen one of the most trusted names in the region.
4. Get to know the Virginia craft beer scene on the Brew Ridge Trail
If you’re looking to cool off after a long, hot summer filled with outdoor adventure in the DC area, head to Virginia’s Brew Ridge Trail that winds through Nelson and Albemarle Counties into historic Charlottesville. Here, the craft beer phenomenon that has exploded in recent years across the United States is in full swing, and the Brew Ridge Trail has just the thing to help you explore them all.
Download a trail map and proposed itinerary and be on your way with this popular self-guided tasting trail that allows you to visit any brewery you want at your own pace. Fall in love with one? You can hire a driver and stay for a while. Much like tasting rooms at wineries, breweries offer samplings of draft and bottled beers, as well as growlers of local and seasonal favorites.
Some of the best-known breweries—Blue Mountain Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Wild Wolf Brewing Company, and South Street Brewery—satiate your hunger with full-menu restaurants onsite. Pack up and stay for a day as, there's plenty of lodging in the area—including primitive camping along the nearby Appalachian Trail or staying at a ridiculously quaint and historic bed and breakfast known as the Inn at the Crossroads. Visit one of the local restaurants featuring culinary spins on regional foods, and give up-and-coming Virginia wine a try. There are a handful of wineries in the area to visit along the way.