Fun under the summer sun

June 11, 2003, midnight | By Lauren DalBello | 18 years ago

Chips' picks of cheap summer activities

Now that the D.C. area has freed itself from Mother Nature's prolonged wintry spells and odd spring snow showers, it's time to celebrate summer under the sun. By surveying the District's what-to-do list, Chips came up with the top four fun outdoor activities that won't drain your wallet.

Place: Tidal Basin Paddle Boating
Cost: $8/hour for two-seater, $16/hour for four-seater
For more info: (202) 484-0206

Washington's most popular man-made lake, the Tidal Basin, is just a short walk from the Smithsonian Metro stop. Surrounded by hundreds of blooming plant life, this calm basin is the perfect location for cheap paddle boating.
Friendly mallard ducks, quite accustomed to people, quack and paddle up close to the boats as seagulls screech overhead. From the middle of the picturesque basin, boaters have a clear view of the Jefferson and FDR memorials and the Washington Monument.
The boathouse is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the last boat coming in at 7 p.m. Bring an ID, required as a deposit.

Place: Great Falls Park and the Billy Goat Trail
Cost: Free
For more info: (301) 299-3613

The bubbling Potomac River builds speed and force as it rushes, splashing, over steep, jagged rocks and then flows through a narrow gorge. Located just 15 miles from the Nation's capital, 800-acre Great Falls Park is considered the most spectacular natural landmark in D.C. Great Falls Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to dark.
On the same site is the popular Billy Goat Trail, a 4.2-mile round-trip trek winding along the Potomac River, offering stunning panoramas and remarkable woodsy surroundings. Shorter hikes can be taken by using various circuits back to the towpath. The terrain is a mix of dirt and rocks, with minimal elevation changes of 20 to 60 feet.
Be sure to be properly outfitted: Wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes, and be prepared to get on your hands and knees to climb over large boulders. The views are well worth the scramblings!

Place: Fletcher's Boathouse
Cost: $10/hour, $20/day
For more info: (202) 244-0461

Fletcher's Boathouse, open daily from dawn to dusk, provides a unique opportunity to enjoy the picturesque setting of the C&O Canal, just minutes from downtown Washington, D.C.
Built in 1850, the historic boathouse offers inexpensive rentals of canoes and rowboats at $10 an hour. An abundance of extraordinary wildlife flocks along the serene canal as canoes glide through the calm, quiet waters. Fishing licenses are available, as are bait and tackle for either shoreline or boat-based fishing.

Place: Dumbarton Oaks Garden
Cost: $5 admission for adults, $3 for children and seniors
For more info: (202) 339-6401

Exploding with life and floral beauty, Dumbarton Oaks Garden is a ten-acre oasis of terraced hillsides, curving footpaths and exquisite plant life in the heart of Georgetown.
The four-season estate was built in the 19th century and donated in 1940 to Harvard University. The manor now holds important research resources in fields such as Byzantine and Pre-Columbian studies and landscape architecture history.
The garden is open from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. After visiting the gardens, follow Lover's Lane to 27-acre Dumbarton Oaks Park, woodlands known for their pools, waterfalls and spring wildflowers.

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Lauren DalBello. Not be confused with Eva Cassidy, Lauren DalBello likes having fun. She can most often be seen smiling. She is excited about Switzerland next year, but she will also miss everything from her little hometown better known as Takoma Park. More »

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