We’ve pulled together some great outdoor options for you and your Bambinos in the Washington, DC area. This is not an exhaustive list of ALL places outdoors to play and visit. Instead, it’s a running (constantly being updated) list of out-of-the-box options to head to. Please add your suggestions to the comments below and we’ll keep building! Be sure and scroll all the way to the bottom for some already written content that includes outdoor fun.
The Yards Park– (355 Water Street SE Washington DC 20003)
Come experience DC’s new waterfront destination and centerpiece of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood! Located just south of Capitol Hill and to the east of Nationals Ballpark, this thoughtfully designed park is a place to be active or relax and enjoy the outdoors. At the Yards Park you’ll find open grassy areas and well-landscaped outdoor rooms, a waterfall and canal-like water feature, an elevated overlook, an iconic bridge and light sculpture, terraced performance venue, and a riverfront boardwalk.
Rock Creek Horse Stables– (5100 Glover Road, NW)
Trail and pony rides are a must as is the summer camp. You’re able to roam the stables. See site as they have holiday events as well as seasonal events.
Meridian Hill Park– (16th & W Streets NW, Washington, DC)
Once a part of John Quincy Adams’ private estate, is now run by the National Park Service today. The park features the original cascading fountain. Sunday late afternoons bring a picnic, soccer ball, yoga mat and get ready to dance with the Drum Circle that congregates once a week.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens– (1550 Anacostia Avenue NE Washington, DC 20019)
The only national park devoted to cultivated water-loving plants. Many ponds make up much of the park full of lily pads, lotus flowers and water lilies, and a variety of aquatic plants. Go on a nature walk, bird walk, become a junior ranger by visiting the Visitor Center and completing activities.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens– (4155 Linnean Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20008)
Nestled in the hills of northwest Washington, D.C., Hillwood welcomes visitors from around the world with its gracious hospitality. Escape into an oasis only five miles from downtown D.C., explore the Mansion, dine at the Café, and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the formal gardens. The following pages provide important information for creating a magical Hillwood experience. Many children’s and family events to check out.
Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium– (5200 Glover Road, NW)
The facility includes a children’s Discovery Room offering environmental education books and games and a “Discover Rock Creek” bilingual (Spanish and English) exhibit geared for middle school audiences. The Nature Center also includes live turtles, fish, snakes, an active beehive, a bird observation deck, and “water-wise” garden. A one-half mile self-guiding interpretive trail, the Woodland Trail, begins behind the Nature Center, while a one-fourth mile wheelchair-accessible Edge of the Woods trail begins right out the front door. The Nature Center is wheelchair-accessible. They offer a ‘Young Planetarium’ day.
National Zoo– (3001 Connecticut Ave NW Washington, DC 20008)
See the animals, cool off in the small water area by the seal lions, take a spin on the carousel and pet some animals in the Children’s Farm.
Boomerang Pirate Cruise– (3100 K St. NW DC 20007)
Yo ho ho, ahoy there, me lads and lasses! We invite you aboard to join our crew of friendly pirates for a cruise along the Potomac River like never before. The Family Fun Treasure Hunt Cruise is amazing! Our gangplank is awaiting your arrival as we navigate the Potomac River on an adventurous treasure hunt. You see, me mateys, we are friendly pirates protecting the Nation’s Capital from any boisterous buccaneers that might get too close. We house the city’s most valued treasure on board our ship, but recently something very important to us was stolen! We need your help as we search the waterways looking for the scallywags who committed this theft. Our ship is protected with water cannons and your teamwork is needed as we fire upon the bad guys during a fierce battle at sea. That’s right, little pirates- we’re talking swashbuckling fun with our treasure chests, face painting, pirate games, dancing, water cannons, limbo, and more!
East Potomac Mini Golf– (972 Ohio Drive, SW Washington, DC 20024)
Fun for the whole family! The Mini Golf Course at East Potomac is on the National Register for Historic Places and is listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country. Conveniently located just a quarter mile from the National Mall on historic Hains Point, East Potomac Miniature Golf Course is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Featuring a classic design with 18 holes, the course is fun for kids but challenging enough for adults. Locals also know that since it lies between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River, the course is also one of the best places in town to catch a cool breeze on a hot summer day. You can also fish, picnic and swim at the pool while you’re here.
Fletcher’s Boathouse– (4940 Canal Rd. NW Washington, DC 20007)
Fletcher’s Boathouse on the Potomac River is open from early March through the Fall. We rent rowboats, kayaks, canoes and bicycles; we sell fishing licenses, bait, tackle and refreshments.
DC Duck Tour– (Union Station)
See Washington DC on the land and water with the most unique adventure of all the DC tours out there. This 90 minute tour will take you through the city of Washington DC before splashing down into the Potomac River for the most unique ride and Washington DC tour! This isn’t just any old Washington DC tour… it’s an experience. Sit back and relax as our tour captains turn back the pages of history.
Rocklands Farm– (14525 Montevideo Road, Poolesville, MD 20837)
34 scenic acres of a working farm, you can pick up pasture-raised meats, fruits and veggies from the market, enjoy a glass of wine from their winery.
National Harbor– (116 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745)
Start the day with a jump-around at Bubble Bounce! This a great (indoor) way to burn some of your kiddo’s neverending energy. Next, you can get in 9 holes of mini-golf or take a spin on the carousel. The cherry on top of any day at National Harbor is a ride on The Capital Wheel! After tuckering out your little ones with an active day, they’ll love the thrill and wonder of a ride 180 feet in the air.
Great Falls Canal Boat Ride– (Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac MD 20854)
Take a trip back in time to the 1870’s! Ride along the historic C&O Canal in a boat pulled by mules. Experience rising 8 feet in a lock. Hear park rangers in period clothing describe what life was like for the families that lived and worked on the canal. Enjoy life at a slower pace. $8.00 for adults (ages 16-61), $6.00 for seniors (ages 62 +), and $5.00 for children (ages 4-15). Children aged three and under ride free.
Lake Needwood– (15700 Needwood Lake Circle Rockville, MD 20855)
Visitors to Rock Creek Regional Park can enjoy the beautiful 75-acre Lake Needwood in rental kayaks, rowboats, canoes or pedal boats, or on a tour of the lake aboard the Needwood Queen during the summer season (group tours available). Private boats can also be launched with permits. Fishing is permitted at both lakes in Rock Creek Regional Park: Lake Needwood and Lake Frank (just 10 minutes away). Visit the Boat House for boat rentals and boating permits; fishing equipment, including bamboo fishing poles, hooks, bobbers, bait and bottled water for sale. The new accessible/ADA compliant dock and launch system makes it possible for people with limited mobility to launch both canoes and kayaks. Does your dog enjoy boating as much as you do? Your dog is welcome aboard our rental boats (at no additional charge!).
Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm– (6411 Oxon Hill Road Oxon Hill, MD 20745)
Take a self-guided tour. Explore the farmyard. See antique farm equipment, barnyard animals, historic structures, and informational outdoor exhibit placards. Stop by the Visitor Barn to pick up the brochure “Self-Guided Walking Tour. Milk the dairy cow, feed the chickens, or take a wagon ride around the farm. We offer programs throughout the year, check our Calendar for more information. The Calendar also has information on Storytime, Cove Clean Ups, and our other special events. Visit the Kid’s Activity Corner in the Visitor Barn where children can color, read books, do puzzles, and play with barnyard toys and games. Hike, Bike, Walk or Jog the Park’s 512 acres; there are 2 trails. Become a Junior Ranger. If you between the ages of 9 and 13 you can become an Oxon Cove Park Junior Ranger. Pick-up the booklet at the Visitor Center and complete the activities in the booklet. Picnic areas are available near the parking lot and in the hay barn on a “first come, first served” basis. There is not any food available for purchase within the park.
Flag Pond’s Nature Park– (1525 Flag Ponds Parkway Lusby, MD 20657)
Fun day trip to hang out at the beach, search for fossilized shark teeth and bring a picnic to enjoy on the beach or at the picnic area. Many nature events to check out also. Half-mile walk to the beach from parking area.
Constitution Gardens Park– (112 Brookes Avenue Gaithersburg, MD 20877)
Constitution Gardens celebrates the past, present and future of Gaithersburg with unique interactive play spaces that have been inspired by the cultural, economic and natural history of the area. The park entrance welcomes visitors with a bubbling millstone fountain, gazebo, peony garden, an herb garden spiral walk, and swinging wooden benches. (Bring a change of clothes or swimsuit).
Clark’s Elioak Farm–(10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042)
The Clark Family has lived on and worked this farm since 1797. Kids and adults can enjoy a magical journey through Clark’s Elioak Farm’s Enchanted Forest – where Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes come to life. Learn about sustainable farming in the farm’s Education Pavilion, zip down the Rainbow Slide, jump on the wagon for a hay ride or hop a pony and giddy-up.
Woodend Nature Sanctuary– (8940 Jones Mill Rd Chevy Chase, MD 20815)
Enjoy the serenity of a wildflower meadow, walk the meandering trails, explore the aquatic life of the pond at the 40-acre nature sanctuary minutes from our nation’s capital in Montgomery County, Maryland. No dogs or pets allowed in the Sanctuary. Trails open daily dawn to dusk. No admission fee.
Cunningham Falls State Park– (14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd, Thurmont, MD)
Cunningham Falls State Park, located near Thurmont, Maryland, features a beautiful 78-foot cascading waterfall, a 44-acre lake, campsites, playgrounds, picnic areas and hiking trails. Cunningham Falls is the largest cascading waterfall in the state, attracting visitors from around the region.
(Cunningham Falls State Park)
Potomac Overlook Regional Park and Nature Center–(2845 N. Marcey Road Arlington, VA 22207)
Explore the natural world on 67 acres of wild and cultivated land at Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington, Virginia. Hike miles of trails while following interpretive displays to learn about Northern Virginia’s flora and fauna. Our educational organic vegetable garden hosts school trips and summer nature camps, while other demonstration gardens showcase native plants and insects and live animal displays. Visit the James I. Mayer Center for Environmental Education to learn about the connections between humans and the natural world. Potomac Overlook Regional Park also hosts an outdoor summer concert series and a popular summer camp for kids. The Nature Center has several displays and exhibits on energy, a microscope and bees as well as snakes and turtles, and a kids’ room called the “cave”.
Leesburg Animal Park-(19270 James Monroe Highway, Leesburg, VA 20175)
Located on 21 acres, visitors can go on pony rides, wagon rides, camel rides (most weekends), see live animal shows and play on the indoor & outdoor playrgounds. Exotic animal exhibits, animal petting and feeding area are also available. Indoor area open year-round with a Discovery Center and play area. See calendar for specific events. Open in the Fall also for Pumpkin Village.
Long Branch Nature Center- (625 S Carlin Springs Rd Arlington, VA 22204)
The nature center features exhibits, a classroom (40 person capacity), a children’s Discovery Room, live animal displays, interpretive gardens, a viewing pond, space for birthday parties, and a Nature Discovery Area, which is coming soon. The Center hosts year-round programs and special events, including story times, campfires, invasive plant removals and nature walks. The trail leads to a playground.
Clemyjontri Park– (6317 Georgetown Pike McLean, VA 22101)
This amazing park features a unique playground where children of all abilities can play side-by-side. It is a playground where every child is welcome.Other features include a carousel and a picnic pavilion.
Roer’s Zoofari– (1228 Hunter Mill Road Vienna, VA 22182)
Wagon rides, free-roaming animal safari, animal encounters, petting zoo and more!
We’ve also published many posts that will get you outdoors, so check these out in addition to the above list.
In the Summer months you can count on staying cool at a pool, water park, beach or splash park.
You can also watch a flick outdoors all summer long!
For our train lovers, we’ve created a list of local places to impress them.
In the Winter months you can find a place to ice skate, see lights and get in the holiday spirit.
Outdoor concerts are a big hit in DC for Summer months also.