Seeing DC from the water is a unique way of experiencing the city. I find that entertaining guests usually means tons and tons of walking which may not be enjoyable for everyone involved. I would advise you to put your feet up and let someone else be the tour guide. The DC Duck tour was unexpectedly fun and as a bonus people living within 50 miles of DC are eligible for free tours, more on that at the end.
Sometimes getting there is the hardest part
I was having one of those days where I didn’t really want to be out and about. Ooey was whining, I was tired, it was hot out. I called my husband at work to complain and I was reminded that blogging is a pretty sweet gig, so I schlepped down to Union Station to catch my scheduled Duck Tour.
I was feeling like I should have stayed home as a I carried a screaming toddler between rows of eager tourists to get to my bench seat. We plopped down and directly behind us was perhaps the most adorable baby I’d ever seen. Crying ceased and Ooey became transfixed with playing patty cake with this cherub. All uncharitable thoughts I’d had about tourists only moments earlier left me feeling like a huge jerk as they offered Ooey snacks and entertainment.
Hmm, I didn’t know that!
Captain Steve started our tour by asking where everyone was from and telling us a few little fun facts. Did you know that the Roman Centurions at Union Station are actually totally naked behind those shields? Don’t take my word for it, you need to go double check for yourself.
Our duck boat was reassuringly named Sitting Duck and as we took off toward downtown Captain Steve cracked a few more jokes and pointed out monuments I’d never noticed before. The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War 2, for example sat across from the US Capitol. It pays homage to the unjust treatment of an ethnicity as a result of fear mongering.
I also didn’t know that the Arlington National Cemetery was constructed on land seized from Robert E. Lee. We all know that he didn’t get his land back, but it is why there is a memorial to him on the site. We kept driving going towards out entry spot to the Potomac River.
Let’s take a dip!
We made it to the Marina and perhaps for effect or maybe because Captain Steve really had been told to stop narrating so loudly in the boat yard he was completely silent. As a result the entire boat became quiet and anxiously waited as Sitting Duck drove into the water. Children screamed and adults laughed as we splashed into the Potomac. Ooey eyed the water with skepticism, even a toddler knows cars stay on land.
Drive the boat!
This was by far our favorite part of the tour, Ooey was more intent on looking out the window and I was happy that it was cooler on the water. Captain Steve told us the history of Duck Boats and the role they played in World War 2. He even took us up to top speed, you really have to experience that for yourself I’m not going to describe it.
When we’d gone under the two bridges our captain offered the wheel to some of the boat’s passengers. I’m often surprised that Ooey knows what I’m saying given that she’s not super verbal. But when I asked her if she’s like to drive the boat she said YES and popped out of the seat and marched to the front of the boat. She drove her first boat! And luckily I was there to prevent her from trying to turn it off!
We ended the water portion of our tour at Ronald Regan National Airport. As a volunteer child passed out duck whistles we sat and watched the planes overhead. The children were too busy quacking and giggling to notice we were back on land and as we drove back to Union Station I noticed that I was in a much better mood than before we’d started.
The DC Duck tour was a surprisingly good time and I’m really glad we went. Next time I will show up the recommended 30 minutes early, just in case those shady seats have been scooped. And I will also bring snacks and cold water. This is most definitely something I’ll be taking guests on, especially since their hometown deal lets DC residents ride free. Let me know if you go on one, I hope you get Captain Steve!
- Ride for FREE, sign up for a hometown pass and take the tour free with a paying adult. Tickets must be bought in person, you must live within 50miles of DC to qualify.
- Don’t tell the driver you live in DC unless you want to answer a TON of questions.
- Sit in the shade, there are some uncovered seats in the back and the people in them looked pretty uncomfortable.
- Bring cold water and snacks.
- Be a kid, drive the boat.
- Tours are 90 minutes long.
- Go to the bathroom before you go, public restrooms are available in Union Station.
- Visit the adjacent National Postal Museum before or after your visit, it great for children.
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