Tag Archives: DC Bike RIdes with Kids

Bike, Play, & Explore Within this Beautiful Stretch of the Anacostia River Trail


Biking with kids along the Anacostia River Trail is not a new recommendation from me.  Spanning the river from Southeast DC to College Park, MD, it’s one of our favorite trails to ride, plus the paved path with just a few gentle hills is a great one for families and kids of all ages to cruise together.

Tackling the whole trail at once would be a bit much for little riders, so biking shorter portions is the way to go with them.  And there is one stretch that is perfect for it, that includes recreation opportunities — hiking, exploring, playgrounding, paddling —  beyond two wheels: From Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to Bladensburg Waterfront Park (or vice versa).

A view of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

The wetlands at Kenilworth

It’s the locations themselves that help make this bike ride so great; both make for fantastic visits on their own, so even better when you can incorporate them into one outing.  Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens — boasting lily pad filled ponds, gorgeous lotus flowers and water lilies (in summer), and acres of wetlands — is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in the area.  You can hike around, explore the different areas, and look for creatures like frogs, fish, turtles, and all kinds of birds.

Fall colors popping at the Aquatic Gardens

Paddlers at Bladensburg Waterfront Park

Bladensburg Waterfront Park offers different kinds of activities.  There are kayak and canoe rentals (weekends through Nov. 1), a riverside playground, a pedestrian bridge, gazebos to relax in, plus a train caboose and pontoon boat tours (though both are inaccessible during Covid).

Playground with a water view

The pedestrian bridge

The parks are just over two miles from each other on the Anacostia River Trail, a nice, easy distance for small pedalers to ride each way.  You will have to put your bikes on a rack and drive to whichever park you make your starting point (or you can bike, of course, but then it’s not a short ride anymore) — there are free parking lots at both places.

Open scenic stretches

The path leading into Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

You can visit one park first, ride to the other, visit the second one, then ride back. Or you can start off your adventure with the bike ride, visit one park, ride back, then visit the second.  You could also just visit one park, or even just do the bike ride.

Stop for some info and history on the area

Wind your way along the boardwalk

The route is scenic, flanked by expanses of wetlands, leafy trees and flowering plants, and lovely river views.  You’ll ride mostly along a paved path, but occasionally over boardwalks that wind through wooded areas and also right along the river.  It’s especially lovely right now brightened by brilliant fall colors.

Ride along the river

However you plan your outing, I recommend bringing along lunch or snacks and drinks.  There are picnic areas at both parks, but concessions are not available.  Other good things to know: Bike racks are located next to the entrance at Kenilworth and on the sidewalk by the river at Bladensburg.  There are portable restrooms at both. And as noted above, there are free parking lots at both.

A bit of art, too!

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are located at 1550 Anacostia Avenue NE in DC. Hours are 8am – 4pm daily.  Bladensburg Waterfront Park is located at 4601 Annapolis Road in BladensburgMD.  Hours are sunrise to sunset daily. Admission is free to both.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend

Rowin’ on the River at Fletcher’s Cove


Even though it’s an activity you can enjoy during several seasons, paddling feels quintessentially “summer” to me. That’s probably because of the many years I spent at sleep away camp as a kid, where canoeing and kayaking were practically everyday pursuits. So, last weekend when we had a sunny day, and it wasn’t too hot, I suggested we go for a jaunt on the river and have some “summer” fun.

The kids were thrilled about the idea, and since Owen was getting excited to embark on a couple of weeks of bike camp the following Monday, we decided a ride to Fletcher’s Cove, where we could rent canoes at the Boathouse, would make it a perfect outing. That’s one of our go-to family bike rides — from Capitol Hill we ride down the Mall, then along the Potomac to Georgetown, where we hop on the Capital Crescent Trail along the C&O Canal. Fletcher’s is about two miles from there between the Potomac and canal.



We usually just ride to Fletcher’s and make that our turn around/hang out spot before heading back home, often stopping in Georgetown for fountain play or food. There’s a lot of open grassy space where we can chill out and cool off, maybe even toss a Frisbee; a water fountain to refill our bottles; and a snack bar to get a drink or a small bite if we’re hungry. But if one is looking for extra recreation — there are bike and boat rentals, picnic tables and grills, and a tackle shack selling bait and fishing licenses for anglers. You can really make a day of it there.


If you want to hit the water, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and rowboats are available to rent. We had planned to get a canoe, but were told there was a max of three people, so we opted for a rowboat instead (however, a friend went this past weekend, and her family of four was allowed to take a canoe, perhaps because her youngest is smaller than Sasha).



Once we got our life jackets, we headed down to the dock and were set up with our rowboat, then made our way out of the cove to the middle of the river. It was glorious being out on the water, taking in scenic views of the Potomac and surrounding woods from the comfort of our little boat. Other paddlers glided by, and everyone seemed to be in the same relaxed, happy mood as us. The kids loved seeing a few turtles basking on rocks as well as a couple of dead fish floating in the water. We watched a group of kids having fun on a rope swing hanging from a tree on the Virginia side.




Levi did most of the rowing, since I proved to be really uncoordinated at it (so weird — I can usually pick up things pretty easily, but alas…). But the kids enjoyed pitching in on the rowing, too. Since we only rented the boat for an hour, we didn’t go too far down the river, but what we did experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Next time, though, we’ll probably opt for double kayaks and rent them for the day, so we can do even more exploring.




Fletcher’s Boathouse is open from 7am – 7pm daily mid-March through Octboer. Canoe rentals are $14/hour or $28/day. Kayaks are $11/hour or $33/day for a single and $20/hour or $45/day for a double. Rowboats are $14/hour or $25/day. Update: See the most recent rates for all paddling options on the website.

Fletcher’s Boathouse is located at 4940 Canal Road NW. I highly recommend the bike ride there, but if you drive, there is parking available in a large lot there.



Filed under All ages, DC, Fall, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Sports, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend