Tag Archives: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

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

Bike the Anacostia River Trail to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (to see the big bloom!)

On the way to see the bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens


I always make a point of going to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this time of year to see the lotus flowers and water lilies in bloom. It’s absolutely stunning, and definitely my favorite of all the big blooms in the area (yep, I even love it more than the cherry blossoms). As I’ve noted before, that partly has to do with its location in Northeast DC, next to a residential neighborhood and not far from 295. You just don’t expect a fairyland of a park full of ponds covered in lily pads and with gorgeous white and pink flowers sprouting from them to be there.

This year, I decided to bike to KAG for the bloom. It’s not too far from where we live, about a five-mile ride from our house on Capitol Hill, and the Anacostia River Trail leads right to it. I’d never ridden on that stretch of the bike path, and it turned out to be a nice little jaunt. Owen and Sasha are away at camp for a couple of weeks, so this was a solo adventure, but I know they would enjoy it, too. I’d also recommend the ride for younger kids who are comfortable biking several miles at a time (accompanied by adults, of course).

The ride mapped out

The first stretch of the ride

I caught the trail at Benning Road, just past RFK Stadium, then rode along the Anacostia River for a scenic mile or so. That section ends at Lee Street, then you ride on the street for a bit until signs lead you back onto the trail that runs through the Mayfair and Eastland Gardens neighborhoods.

Following the path through a residential area

The turn into the Aquatic Gardens area

Another mile or so on that, and you come to the area of the trail that leads to the Aquatic Gardens. The paved path lined by black-eyed Susans (Maryland’s state flower, for a bit of trivia) and other wildflowers traverses a meadow before winding into the woods, the KAG marshland visible through breaks in the trees.

The trail flanked by wildflowers

There are a few small areas with benches where you can stop and take in the sights. I saw several great blue herons wading, turtles swimming, and what looked like many cardinals flying by. It’s lovely and peaceful, though the trail is somewhat isolated so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings.

Into the woods

Stop and sit for a bit

A heron sighting

Of course, this ride can be done anytime you want to visit Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The locale makes for a nice outing all year round, it’s just especially pretty now during the bloom. However, it does get hot and buggy during the summer, so a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant are recommended!


After crossing a couple of small bridges, there is a dirt path to the right that leads to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens entrance. Sign posts are at the trailhead so you can’t miss it. From there, it’s less than a quarter mile to the bike racks. Lock up, make your way to the ponds, and be ready to be dazzled.

A first look at the bloom

For more about Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, see this post. For more about the lotus flower and water lily bloom, see this one. And note that the annual festival celebrating them will take place July 13-14 this year, and it’s a fantastic event for families. In the meantime, here are more scenes from the ride and bloom — I can’t let photos that capture the beauty of it all go to waste!

From here to there and there to here…


Lotus flower close-up


Stop and take in the marsh views along the way


The plants from another perspective


Pinks!


A lily pad laden pond


Another view from below


A lotus beginning to open


Taking it all in from a footbridge


A pretty and peaceful part of the Anacostia River Trail



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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Nature, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from the Lotus and Water Lily Bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

The lotus flower rising and blooming above the murk symbolizes enlightenment and spiritual awakening in Buddhism



Of all the big annual blooms that occur in the DC area, the lotus flowers and water lilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens may just be my favorite one. Not only is the sight of the bursting pink, white, and peachy hued flora absolutely breathtaking, its secluded location — the park is located in an unexpected part of Northeast DC just blocks from the buzz of 295 — makes it a glorious oasis of beautiful nature in the city.

The bloom begins early to mid summer and peaks around the middle of July. It’s just about hitting that point right now, and we visited yesterday to take in the spectacular scene.

The annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival t0 celebrate it all is happening this Saturday, July 15. (Note: This post is from 2017!) It’s a fantastic event that we try to attend every year with activities for kids; cultural dance performances; gardening workshops; and park tours.

No matter when you go, this bloom is one you have to see. And while this time of year is the most colorful at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a visit there is great any time (but a hat, sunscreen, and bug repellent recommended if you go now). You can read more about the park and get logistics for visiting in this KFDC post. In the meantime, here are images from our outing there yesterday for a peek at the peak… okay, more than a peek, but it’s so beautiful, I couldn’t decide which pics to post!

A close look at a seed pod



Dragon flies don’t feed on lotus, but lay eggs in water plants and perch on them



A sea of lotus flowers



Have your camera ready – photos ops abound!



Pouring water to watch it roll right of the lotus’ superhydrophic leaves



As Sasha noted, the great blue heron is like a celebrity and park visitors the paprazzi



Cattail sprouts up along the ponds



A view from above



Pickerwelweed adds a pretty pop of purple (and some p alliteration)



Turtles are a common sight in the waters



The giant leaves are just as amazing to see as the flowers



One last shot of the gorgeous scene



Oh, just one more… last one, I promise!



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Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, DC, Festival, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 17-21

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens... lots of lily pads, but where are the frogs?

Monday – Children up to age 5 can become Young Portrait Explorers and discover the National Portrait Gallery through history and art. During this session they will learn about writer Gertrude Stein by viewing her portrait and listening to a story about her, then participating in a related hands-on activity.

Tuesday – Go on a nature walk at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. See ponds filled with giant lily pads and other interesting marsh plants and look for geese, great blue herons, turtles, frogs, and tiny fish on the way. Open 7am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Let Mr. Gabe entertain little ones at Lebanese Taverna in Arlington. The show is part of their weekly Kid’s Day series that presents a different performer from 10-11am. Stay after for a yummy Middle Eastern lunch.

Thursday – Join in a jump session at Pump It Up in Lanham, Md.  From 10-11:30am, kids ages 2-6 can pop in for pre-K play time.  Admission is $8.  Parents play for free and must accompany children. Don’t forget socks!

Friday – Head into the weekend with some fun at the National Zoo. Go during the day to visit the animals or do some early Halloween celebrating as Boo at the Zoo kicks off in the evening (tickets still available for Friday night as this post goes live).

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Play, Virginia, Weekdays