4 DC Suburbs for Families Who ♥ the Great Outdoors

Jun 30, 2020

There are plenty of opportunities to GET OUT (even now) in these action-packed DC suburbs.


Jam-packed with history, scenic outdoor areas, and sweeping views of the Potomac River, the DC suburbs have always been an amazing go-to for active families. And for those families who really want to experience it all—beaches, parks, hiking trails, nature preserves, bike paths and more—without leaving their backyard? These ‘burbs are bursting with opportunities to get out and stay out all year long.


#1. Arlington, VA

Given its spot on the southwestern bank of the Potomac, Arlington is a prime location for all things waterfront—waterfront picnics, waterfront bike rides, waterfront hikes and, of course, warm days on the water. On any given weekend, expect Arlington families to hit up Theodore Roosevelt Island, located in the center of the Potomac River. This suburban oasis is home to miles of lush walking trails that lead to a 17-foot tall statue of the 26th president of the United States (don’t forget to snap a photo)!


Another popular spot for the outdoorsy set? The Arlington Farmer’s Market. Here, families stock up on fresh fruit, veggies, baked goods and other local essentials. Many even back up a picnic lunch and head to the 67-acre Potomac Overlook Regional Park for a hike or a visit to the interactive wildlife exhibits and sprawling gardens. And if there’s still more time to spare? The legendary Mount Vernon Trail offers walking, hiking and biking trails for all experience levels—and it’s an ideal spot to watch the sun go down.


#2. Alexandria, VA

Like Arlington, Alexandria is located right on the water and offers incredible waterfront, historical, and wildlife parks, perfect for families. Locals love Founder’s Park, a serene riverside park with Insta-worthy views of the Potomac, plus tons of green spaces, walking and running paths and even volleyball courts. You can also bring your furry friend along—Founder’s Park has a popular dog park, perfect for pups of all sizes.


Also right in town: Washington Sailing Marina. Located on Daingerfield Island, the swing by the marina and rent a sailboat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. Need a little guidance? Sign up for family-friendly lessons before hitting the water—then get ready to see the suburbs like never before.


Arlington is also home to 44-acre Winkler Botanical Preserve. At this stunning preserve, you’ll no doubt find your zen—and tons of opportunity for action-adventure. Whether you’re all about a slow morning hike to tranquil streams, hitting a hard-core mountain biking trail with your big kids or taking the entire gang to search for local wildlife, there are endless options in this woody retreat.


#3. McLean, VA

Despite being just minutes from the Capitol, McLean feels like it’s a world away. With hiking trails and scenic nature preserves, tons of waterfront activities and endless options for biking, walking, swimming and more, there’s no shortage of family fun in this DC ‘burb.


A local fave? Great Falls Park, 800-acres of land packed with history—and hiking, kayaking, white water rafting, and rock climbing, for all ages. The gem of the park is its namesake Great Falls,where the Potomac River picks up speed and cascades down jagged rocks into the cliff-lined Mather Gorge.


A portion of the Patowmack Canal also runs through the park, and visitors can learn about its construction and George Washington’s visions of using this canal to make the Potomac River navigable to as far as the Ohio River Valley.


For a more kid-friendly excursion, families retreat to places like Clemyjontri Park, which is an all-inclusive park for children of all physical abilities to play and explore.


#4. Bethesda, MD

Bethesda is another DC suburb that’s all about outdoor fun. Start at Cabin John Regional Park, where you can sit by and enjoy the scenery with a picnic or hop on a two-mile train ride through the park. With a tennis center, skating rink, campground, and plenty of playgrounds inside its expansive acreage, this park is the perfect place to spend the day with family.


Eager to explore on wheels? Take a bike ride along the Capital Crescent Trail, which follows along an abandoned railroad for 7.04 miles from Georgetown, all the way to Silver Spring in Montgomery County. The trail is paved and even includes views of the Potomac River along the way, and can be accessed in Downtown Bethesda.


There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t… without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.


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