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Explore Washington, D.C. Parks and Recreation Opportunities

For a bustling capital city, Washington, D.C. has a surprising (and welcome) amount of green space. One of the largest parks in the city is the National Mall. Its impressive beauty covers 146 acres and includes memorials, monuments, and museums, as well as recreational options like tennis, soccer, golf, and paddle boat trips around the Tidal Basin.

Anacostia Park runs for a little over 1,200 acres. Within the grounds, you can enjoy the skating pavilion, tennis courts, baseball fields, basketball courts, hiking trails, and the Langston Golf Course. It also includes the Kenilworth Marsh, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens and the Bladensburg Marina.

If you like biking, hiking or jogging, you’ll love the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The park winds along the Potomac River for more than 185 miles and also offers numerous opportunities for fishing and horseback riding.

Rock Creek Park in Northwest D.C. features more than 32 miles of hiking and biking trails. You can explore historic structures, as well as go kayaking or canoeing.

If your itinerary permits, The Capitol Hill Parks, Fort Dupont Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Washington D.C. Ellipse are also among the popular parks that dot the D.C. landscape.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Managed by the National Park Service, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park spans Washington D.C. and parts of Maryland and West Virginia while preserving the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal remains on the Potomac River.

Stretching across nearly 20,000 acres, the park is a 184.5-mile recreational path stretching from DC to Cumberland– drawing nearly five million visitors each year. Activities include boating, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and more along the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Though open throughout the year, the park features seasonal visitor centers like Hancock, Williamsport, Great Falls Tavern, and more.

Anacostia Park

Covering over 1,200 acres, Anacostia Park is a large recreation area consisting of several parks and sites throughout Washington D.C. Anacostia Park features a skating pavilion from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Bladensburg Marina on the Anacostia River, and the 18-hole Langston Golf Course.

Managed by the National Park Service in the Washington area, Anacostia Park is also comprised of Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, Kenilworth Marsh, and plenty of ball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, trails, nature viewing, and more.

Fort Dupont Park

Spanning 376 acres, Fort Dupont Park is set in Washington D.C. and managed by the National Park Service. The park preserves an earthwork fort constructed during the Civil War, as well as a sub-watershed of the Anacostia River in Washington.

A recreational hotspot, Fort Dupont Park is ideal for hiking, biking, picnicking, nature photography, and even music during the Summer Concert Series. The park features 10 miles of trail, including the Fort Dupont Park Hiker/Biker Trail, plus Civil War events, the Ice Skating Arena, and more.

Rock Creek Park

Stretched across over 1,700 acres near Washington D.C., Rock Creek Park is truly an outdoors person’s paradise. The park features over 32 miles of scenic trails ideal for hiking and biking – including the Western Ridge Trail and Valley Trail. Guests are encouraged to visit the Nature Center for trail maps and travel tips.

Within Rock Creek Park, visitors will find a variety of historic structures, like the Old Stone House, Peirce Mill, and Meridian Hill Park – each named to the National Register of Historic Places. Outdoors persons can also visit the Thompson Boat Center for kayak and canoe rentals.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Formerly Mason’s Island of the Potomac River, Theodore Roosevelt Island is an 88-acre national memorial dedicated to the 26th president.

The island can be found while traveling along the southern end of the George Washington Memorial Parkway – just west of Washington D.C.

Outdoor recreation is plentiful on the island – with a three short trails traversing the island. While walking along Woods Trail, visitors will pass by the Theodore Memorial Plaza featuring the 17-foot centerpiece statue and fountain.

Washington D.C. Ellipse

Many people from around the world travel to the Nation's Capital, Washington D.C., to see the numerous historical monuments and landmarks in the city. The National Mall and Memorial Parks, The White House and the Smithsonian Museums are among the most popular attractions in Washington D.C.

After touring The White House, make your way to the the 52-acre Washington D.C. Ellipse. The Ellipse is a beautiful public park, home to a variety of monuments, located south of The White House.

The site of the Ellipse was the location of horse, mule and cattle corrals and Union troop camp sites, during the American Civil War.