Category Archives: Weekdays

Inside Info: Indoor Places Open During COVID

Social distancing indoors at the National Gallery of Art

 

More and more indoor places around the DC area are figuring out how to safely open their doors to visitors again. I’ve been to a couple of Smithsonian museums and felt very comfortable and safe with the extra measures taken for COVID — and was very happy to wander the galleries and enjoy art in person once again.  As weather gets colder and our itch for outings that aren’t outdoors grows, having some go-to indoor spots will be appreciated by many.  (But, of course, everyone should do what they’re comfortable with during this unusual and uncertain time!)  Here’s a handy list of them, and I’ll continually add to it as more places reopen.  Happy revisiting!

 

DC

National Gallery of Art
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Where: 6th Street & Constitution Avenue NW
Admission: Free with timed entry passes.
COVID policies

National Museum of African American History and Culture
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 1400 Constitution Avenue NW
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11:30am – 7pm
Where: 8th and G Streets NW
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

Renwick Gallery
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW
Admission: Free, no passes required
COVID policies

National Museum of American History
When: Friday – Tuesday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 1300 Constitution Avenue NW
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

National Museum of the American Indian
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 4th Street & Independence Avenue SW
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

International Spy Museum
When: Daily, 10m – 6pm
Where: 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Admission: $24.95/ adult, $16.95/age 7-12, free/6 & under | purchase online
COVID policies

ARTECHOUSE
When: Monday – Thursday, 12-8pm & Friday – Sunday, 10am – 10pm
Where: 1238 Maryland Ave SW
Admission: $24/adult, $20/senior & first responder, $17/age 4-14, free/under 4 (purchase online for $5 off)
COVID policies

National Museum of Women in the Arts
When: Daily
Where: Monday – Saturday, 10am -5pm & Sunday, 12-5pm
Admission: $10/adult, free/child – timed entry tickets required
COVID policies

Kennedy Center Grand Foyer and The REACH
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 2700 F Street NW
Admission: Free and passes are not required
COVID policies

Mansion on O Street
When: Daily, 11am – 3pm
Where: 2020 O Street NW
Admission: Tours start at $25 — online reservations required
COVID policies

 

MARYLAND

Maryland Science Center
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm, Wednesday 12-3pm (a few areas)
Where: 601 Light Street | Baltimore
Admission: $25.95/adult, $19.95/age 3-13
COVID policies

B&O Railroad Museum
When: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm & Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 901 West Pratt Street | Baltimore
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior, $12/ages 2-12
COVID policies

National Aquarium
When: Sun-Thurs 9am – 5pm | Fri 9am – 8pm | Sat 9am – 6pm
Where: 501 E Pratt Street | Baltimore
Admission: $39.95/adult, $29.95/age 3-11, free/2 & under
COVID policies

American Visionary Art Museum
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 800 Key Highway | Baltimore
Admission: $15.95/adult, $13.95/senior, $9.95/age 7-17, free/6 & under
COVID policies

ClimbZone
When: Mon-Wed 12-7pm | Fri 12-8pm | Sat-Sun 11am – 8pm
Where: 13200 MidAtlantic Blvd Suite 130 | Laurel
Admission: $15/age 2-5, $25/age 6+ for 2 hours — reserve online
COVID policies

Calvert Marine Museum
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Where: 14200 Solomons Island Road | Solomons
Admission: $9/adult, $7/senior, $4/child — reserve two-hour time-slot
COVID policies

Zava Zone
When: Thursday – Monday, hour vary by day
Where: 40 Southlawn Court, Rockville
Admission: Starts at $21.50/hour
COVID policies

 

VIRGINIA

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Where: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway | Chantilly
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

Mount Vernon – Museum & Mansion
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway | Mount Vernon
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-16, free/under 6
COVID policies

Super, Awesome, & Amazing at the St. James
When: Thursday & Friday 1-8pm (GA), Saturday & Sunday 9am – 7pm for events only.
Where: 6805 Industrial Road | Springfield
Admission: $13/hour, $23/2 hours
COVID policies

Zava Zone
When: Thursday – Monday, hour vary by day
Where: 45685 Oakbrook Court Suite 110 | Sterling
Admission: Starts at $12/hour
COVID policies

 

Do you know of a place that has reopened, but don’t see it listed here?  Let me know in the comments!

 

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Reopened, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

The KFDC Guide to the 2020 Fall Festival Season (yes, it’s happening!)

In the pumpkin patch back in very pre-COVID times

 

We’ve gotten so used to most annual events being canceled, it may come as a surprise (and delight) to learn that a bunch of fall festivals are still taking place this season.  The locales — outdoors with lots of space — make it possible, and all of them are taking extra precautions to keep guests safe (follow links to websites for specifics about each place).  With capacity limited at just about all of the festivals listed for safe social distancing, advanced reservations are recommended if not required.  So, put on those sweaters (and masks), grab a basket for apples (and a bottle of hand sanitizer), and go have some autumn fun.  Happy Fall, y’all!

 

Apple Gala & Cider Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult $10-14/child, free/2 & under 

Celebrate everything apple at Great Country with apple picking, apple cider donuts, and a romp in the 12-acre play area. On Saturdays & Sundays there’s also live music, marshmallow roasting, cider pressing demos and fresh cider samples.

 

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 3
Admission: $8

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). See Humpty Dumpty, the Three Bears, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach,  the Old Woman’s shoe, and more. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. See the website for hours by day. Closed Mondays.

 

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: Through November 3
Admission: $9/weekdays, $13.50/weekends, free/2 & under

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more.

 

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: Through November 8
Admission: $9.95 – $16.95, depending on day/time

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. New this year is the Sunflower September Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field open September 21-22, 24-26, and 27-29. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

 

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Through November 1
Admission: $12

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more.  Their first annual Sunflower Festival will be happening the weekend of September 19-20.

 

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 19-20
Admission: $18-20/adult, $10/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as expert artisans demonstrate period crafting techniques. Learn how the Washingtons enjoyed ice cream and watch as interpreters showcase the process. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

 

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: September 19 – November 8
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. This year, it’s open on weekdays, too.  And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.

 

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 19 – November 3
Admission: $16-18/adult, $14-15/child & senior, free/2 & under

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Guests can spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more.

 

Fall Festival
Where: Summers Farm | Frederick, MD
When: September 19 – November 8
Admission: $10-17, depending on time/day

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out.

 

Reston Farm Garden Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston, VA
When: September 25 – November 1
Admission: $20/child + 1 adult, $5/add’l adult
This annual Fall Fest is on! Families will enjoy a pumpkin moon bounce and bouncy slides, inflatable corn maze, train rides and farm animals. There is also their talented balloon artist, face painter and caricature portrait artist, along with food, pumpkins and more for additional on-site purchases.

Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 26 – November 3
Admission: $12, free/2 & under 

There is farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick out a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Snacks are available from the Feed Trough, and you can stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.

 

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends September 28 – October 27
Admission: $13-15, free/2 & under

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. While specific activities are still TBD, hayrides, cider, and pumpkins definitely will be in the mix.

 

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential Jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sunday’s.

 

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: September 28 – October 31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (and grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area.

 

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: Dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family.

 

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Eats, Fall, Farm, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Serenity Now: 10 Places to Find Peace and Calm in DC

 

Sometimes you’re looking for an out-of-the-house activity that doesn’t actually involve much… activity.   You just want to find a locale that is pretty and quiet, where you can chill out and think (or not) — especially during this strange and uncertain time when there is so much information to digest and new circumstances to comprehend.  Whether with kids, in the company of other adults, or solo, having a place to go to process everything (or not focus on it for awhile), can be good for everyone’s well being.  You might want to wander around beautiful grounds, take a break in nature, meditate in a tranquil place, or just lounge and enjoy the surrounds.  Here are 10 spots that are perfect for that, where you can find some peace and calm.

 

The view from inside a gazebo at the Arboretum

National Arboretum
The 450 acres of gorgeous grounds contain a bunch tucked away spots, where you can hang out and unwind, you just have to explore beyond the popular parts to find them. There are gazebos in the middle of plant collections, benches placed under the prettiest trees, swaths of grass amid blooming flora, and uncrowded trails and paths that wind all around. Skip the old Capitol Columns that tend to draw lots of visitors and head to the Asian Collection, the dogwoods and conifers, the hollies and magnolias, the hill full of azaleas, or Fern Valley (when it’s open again). Whether you roam around or discover a secret place to sit, your surroundings will be beautiful and calm. The National Arboretum is open Mon-Fri 1-5pm, and Sat-Sun 8am – 5pm, and admission is free. Read more about it here and here.

 

The Franciscan Monastery’s pretty, peaceful garden

Franciscan Monastery Garden
The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America is an “Oasis of Peace” in Brookland. It consists of the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, beautifully landscaped grounds immediately surrounding,  and a garden adjacent to that. The Rosary Portico, long concrete open air passageways, run along the perimeter of the inner grounds, the inside walls adorned with Christian symbols and ceramic plaques. In the garden, pretty flowers and plants and tall trees grow among replicas of Holy Land shrines. The public is welcome to enjoy it all. There are paths to stroll and lots of benches if you just want to sit and reflect. Garden hours are 9am – 4:45pm daily (though the church is closed right now), and admission is free. Read more about the Franciscan Monastery here.

 

Wander in the woods at Tregaron

Tregaron Conservancy
This secluded locale in Northwest DC that stretches between the Washington International School and a residential area — you can see the backyards of homes as you walk along some of the paths — offers a nice little nature break. Trails wind through the 13 acres under tall leafy trees, with a lily pond, large meadow, and a couple of stone stairways adding a bit of a fairy tale feel. You could very well have it all to yourself — we’ve wandered through without encountering a single other visitor. And if you wanted to extend your walk, the park trails lead right to the Klingle Valley Trail. Access Tregaron at 3100 Macomb Street NW or 3031 Klingle Road NW.

 

A hidden gem of the Botanic Garden

Bartholdi Park
This outdoor area of the U.S. Botanic Garden is often missed by visitors because of its location across Independence Avenue from the Conservatory. But the lack of people is part of what makes it such a lovely spot. The Bartholdi Fountain is the centerpiece of the park, and it’s surrounded by colorful flowers and paths winding among the plants. A couple of tables with umbrellas, plus several benches are there, so you can sit and relax amid it all. It’s so lovely and serene, you’ll forget there’s a busy thoroughfare just beyond its edges.

 

A little oasis within Yards Park

River Street Gardens at Yards Park
If you can snag one of the wooden lounge chairs in this small section in front of the boardwalk on the east side of Yards Park, it’s a great place to chill out. Overlooking the Anacostia, you can sit back and take in river views, surrounded by birch trees and greenery that make it a relaxing enclave within the bigger, bustling Capitol Riverfront. The park is open from sunrise until two hours after sunset, and admission is free.

 

 

Nature and presidential tribute at Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island
Something about its location within the Potomac River makes the park feel like an isolated escape.  You have to cross a bridge from Virginia to access it even though it’s technically in DC.  A couple of trails traverse the island through woods and along the water, some parts of it on a boardwalk over marshy areas.  And in the center of it all is the Memorial Plaza, a tribute to Theodore Roosevelt, with fountains and stone benches.  Whether you walk the grounds or just sit and relax,  you’ll be immersed in a soothing setting.  Roosevelt Island is open 6am – 10pm, and admission is free.   Read more about it and get a good glimpse in this KFDC post.

 

A grand Cathedral backdrop at the Bishop’s Garden

Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral
While many find calm and comfort inside the Cathedral, this gorgeous area on the south side of the church offers that in its own way. The terraced, walled garden is as tranquil as it is beautiful, featuring an array of colorful flowers, a variety of plants, statues, and medieval and modern structures incorporated into the design. Walk through it all along the stone path or pick a seat on a bench or in the gazebo for a calming break.

 

The Parterre, the main part of the Haupt Garden

Enid A. Haupt Garden
The grounds between the Smithsonian Castle and Independence Avenue (and nearby offshoots) are always well-groomed, vibrant with flowers, and an inviting outdoor space. You can stroll around and get a close look at the plants and flowers or find a bench to sit and savor it all. Neat little side areas, like the Moongate Garden adjacent to the Freer|Sackler and the Fountain Garden next to the National Museum of African Art, have water features and artistic designs that are pretty to view and relaxing to hang out by. The Haupt Garden is open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.

 

Peaceful grounds at the cemetery

Congressional Cemetery
It doesn’t get much more peaceful than a cemetery. Sure, the thought of hanging out among the dead and buried might be eerie to some, but others find the stillness comforting.  At this Capitol Hill site, the serene environs are also beautiful, their 30 acres studded with all types of gravestones — large and small, simple and intricate — and you can walk among them on several paved paths that stretch across the grounds.  You’ll also find many quiet places to sit, some even at gravesites, where you can contemplate life (and death) or just find calm in the silence. Note: Right now, the cemetery is only open to K-9 members and day passers, but it’s included here for when the public is welcome again — hopefully, soon.

 

Plenty of space to stroll and de-stress at Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks Garden
The beautiful grounds of the historic Dumbarton House in Georgetown is one of the prettiest places in DC, in my opinion. Tucked away in a relatively non-bustling area of the neighborhood, a visit there feels like a little escape right in the city. A variety of sections feature different kinds of flora, and there are numerous paths — brick, stone, grass, stairs — to access them, often with delightful surprises on the way. Roaming around is a great way to de-stress and clear the mind, and scattered throughout are nice small nooks with seating as well as open spaces. Garden hours are 2-6pm Wed-Sun. Admission is $10/adult, $5/age 2-12 from mid-March – mid-November (free the rest of the year). Note: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens are closed right now due to COVID, but it’s included here for hwen the public is welcome again — hopefully, soon.

 

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Filed under All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Free, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend

Ride On: Bike Routes for Everyone Around the DC Area

 

Considering how much we love biking (3/4 of our family, anyway), this post should have been written ages ago.  But given the rise in biking popularity during COVID, this is a perfect time to get on it. As more people have been taking to two wheels for outdoor recreation, they are also seeking more routes to rides.  The DC area has plenty of them to cruise along; even more, there is something for every age and rider level.  Here are some of our favorites, plus a few suggested by fellow biking enthusiasts. Whether easily accessible from home or requiring a drive then ride, all of them are very pedal-worthy.  Happy Biking!

 

Riding nearby the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on the Anacostia River Trail

Anacostia River Trail
Running along the Anacostia River from the Capitol Riverfront in Southeast DC to College Park, MD, this is a great trail for all levels of riders. Not only is it mellow with just a few gentle hills, it’s a route that can be tackled all in one ride or in shorter stretches, depending on what you’re up for. Ride the length of Anacostia Park, along the wetlands of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, by the river to Bladensburg Waterfront Park, and around Lake Artemesia in College Park — all of them offer scenic sights and/or fun stops on the way. Read more about biking part of this trail to Kenilworth and about Anacostia Park and Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

 

Enjoy some of DC’s most iconic sights biking the National Mall

National Mall
In non-COVID times, one of the best things about riding on the Mall is all the great museum stops you can make along the way. That’s currently not as much of an option, as you can only access the National Gallery with passes and enjoy the gardens. But that also makes it an a excellent area to ride with kids right now for another reason: Without the usual tourist crowds to visit the museums, little (and big) riders have plenty of space to navigate the gravel paths and roads; no more winding their way through hordes of people. Biking the Mall is also a convenient way to tour the memorials and generally cover more ground in one outing.

 

Riding a stretch of Ohio Drive at East Potomac Park

Hains Point/East Potomac Park
The road that runs the perimeter of most of the park is popular with both competitive cyclers and recreational riders. It’s a flat, scenic route, making it nice for family bike rides — easy to pedal (when it’s not windy), and there are views of the rivers as well as airplanes taking off and landing at DCA. While cars do drive on it, the speed limit is very slow, and there is plenty of room for both bikers and drivers. Bonus: There are even more activities to enjoy there, including mini golf, FootGolf, regular golf, playground fun, and tennis. Read more about Hains Point in this KFDC post.

 

On the boardwalk at Kingman Island

Kingman Island
Located between the Anacostia River and RFK parking lot, the park is technically part of the Anacostia River Trail.  But the way it’s situated makes it a good place to bike on its own, especially with kids who like a bit of mountain biking that isn’t too rough. You can ride there or park in the lot, then cruise on in — biking is permitted around the island and on the boardwalk trail. Stop to take in river views, look out for birds and turtles, and make time after for the playground located on the new RFK Fields close to the park entrance. Read more about Kingman Island in this KFDC post.

 

On the way to Fletcher’s Boathouse on the Capital Crescent Trail

Capital Crescent Trail
Part of the rails-to-trails system, this route used to be part of the B&O Railroad. It runs between Georgetown and Silver Spring, some of it along the Potomac River with pretty views of the water occasionally seen between the trees from the trail above. A nice stretch to ride with kids is the couple of miles from the start at Water Street in Georgetown to Fletcher’s Boathouse. You can take a break there, have a snack or a picnic, even rent a vessel for some paddling. Read more about this ride (and paddling from Fletcher’s) in this KFDC post.

 

Fantastic scenery comes with a Great Falls bike ride

Great Falls Park
It’s best known for amazing scenic views and hiking, but Great Falls is a fun place to ride as well. The C&O Canal runs on the Maryland side, and is a nice flat gravel path, though you may have to wind through a lot of people as you go, since the park always gets lots of visitors. On the Virginia side, biking is permitted on the Difficult Run Trail, Ridge Trail, and Old Carriage Road. With kids it’s best to stay on Old Carriage, which is flat and closest to the parking lot; the other two are more strenuous rides. Read more about Great Falls in this KFDC post.

 

See airplanes at Gravelly Point on the Mount Vernon Trail

Mount Vernon Trail
If you haven’t yet ridden this trail, you’ve definitely seen it as you’ve been driving on the George Washington Parkway. It’s a paved 18-mile stretch along the Potomac River between Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon, and with parking lots along the way, it’s easy to pick short parts to ride. Given that it’s all along the water, the whole thing is pretty scenic, and there are some fun places to stop and see even more. Roosevelt Island is great to explore (no biking in the park, though), and the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial is neat to view. Gravelly Point next to DCA is awesome for airplane watching — they take off and come in for landing right overhead. Further down in Alexandria, there are some boardwalk areas to ride over, plus the waterfront, where you can stop for a snack, play time, or to stroll around. Of course, Mount Vernon, George Washington’s former digs are a great attraction, too.

 

A two-wheel tour of the National Arboretum

National Arboretum
One of the loveliest locales in the city is also a great place to bike. All of the riding is on roads, but there’s barely traffic, and low speed limits keep the cars slow. It’s a nice way to see the many plant collections; since the Arb is so large, it’s tough to cover it all on foot in an outing.  Some uphills might be hard for kids, but if you have to walk bikes a bit, at least it’s amid the gorgeous surrounds. Stop and explore plant collections, the Old Capitol Columns, Bonsai exhibit, and Washington Youth Garden (when open).   Current hours are 1-5pm Mon-Fri, and 8am – 5pm Sat-Sun. See more about the National Arboretum here and here.

 

A W&OD bike trail bridge near Falls Church / Photo credit: Antony-22, Wiki Commons

Washington & Old Dominion Trail
The W&OD, as it’s more commonly called, is a rail trail that runs 45 miles in Northern Virginia from Shirlington to Purceville. It’s all paved and fairly flat, plus there are a bunch of trailheads to access, so it’s easy to do short stretches.  A trail from Glencarlyn Park connects to it, where along with a playground, there is a learning loop for newbie cyclists.  There are signs along the route that tell the stories of people and places along the rail line. Depending on the section you ride, there may be parks and places to stop for a snacks.

 

The Sligo Creek Trail in fall / Photo: Wiki Commons

Sligo Creek Trail
We haven’t ridden this one, but it gets lots of raves from others. Over 10 miles long, it spans from Prince George’s to Montgomery County, running from Hyattville through Takoma Park and up to Wheaton. It’s often touted as a great trail for kids because there are lots of parks and playgrounds along the way, including Wheaton Regional Park (follow the link to read about the great playground) and the lovely Brookside Gardens.

 

Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park is closed to traffic on weekends

Rock Creek Park
There is a paved path that runs along the Rock Creek Parkway that I probably wouldn’t recommend for kids, as parts are next to fast moving traffic and could be scary for them. But it’s fun for older (and bolder) riders, surrounded by greenery and the creek flowing nearby. On weekends, Beach Drive is closed to traffic, and cyclers can enjoy the car free roads, though there are some uphill areas that could be tough for some. An area of Rock Creek near Lake Needwood in Maryland is better for young cyclers.

 

Lovely trails in Quiet Waters Park

Local Parks to Bike
These spots don’t have biking routes that span for miles through different areas, but they have paths that make for nice shorter rides in contained areas:
Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
Lubber Run Park | Arlington, VA
Mason Neck State Park | Lorton, VA
Cabin John Regional Park | Bethesda, MD
Wheaton Regional Park | Wheaton, MD
Quiet Waters Park | Annapolis, MD

 

 

In the woods at Schaffer Farms

Mountain Biking
There are a bunch off-road trails around the area for those seeking rides with more challenges and obstacles. You can bike along rooty paths in the woods, cruise single track that span open fields, navigate twists and turns around trees, and practice tricks in parks made just for that. Levi has been mountain biking a long time, and Owen has gotten into it over the past year (I join on the easier rides), and these are some places they recommend:
Schaeffer Farms | Gaithersburg, MD
Fountainhead Regional Park | Fairfax Station, VA
Patapsco Valley State Park | Ellicott City, MD
Fort Dupont Park | Anacostia, DC
Meadowood Trail | Lorton, VA
Laurel Hill | Lorton, VA
Massanutten Mountain Bike Park | Massanutten, VA

 

Do you have a favorite biking route you don’t see listed here? Please share, if so!

 

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