Washington DC is known world-wide as the seat of power of the world’s most powerful nation. It is mostly known for its politics but has some vital history, eye catching wildlife and beautiful landscapes that one can easily access through the National Park service. Below is a list of five parks one should visit on your Washington trip:

National Mall and Memorial Parks

America’s most visited national park, within it there is the Washington Monument, US Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial just to mention a few. The National Mall was designed by Pierre L’Enfant a French-American military engineer who also designed the basic plan for Washington DC.

national parks washington

Photo: Caleb Wright Via Unsplash

Here within the park is where the past, present and future of America come together. The national mall offers more than just history, within it there are a bunch of world class museums that cater for everyone – from the United States Holocaust museum to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American culture that was added recently.  There is always festivals happening all year round in the National Mall. One of those festivals  is the National Cherry Blossom festival which happens in the beginning of the spring.

With so much stuff and places to visit you should consider blocking time off for the whole day to truly appreciate what the National Mall has to offer.

Tidal Basin at Washington DC - Photo by Abhijeet Karle via Flickr

Tidal Basin at Washington DC – Photo by Abhijeet Karle via Flickr

Great Falls Park

For those who want to be in a city but still fancy a get away from it, Great Falls Park is the solution. Located 15 minutes away from Washington, DC, the park shows us the Potomac River. It consists of the flowing river crashing over a series of steep, jagged rocks and finally flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. Park visitors can hike across six different trails on the park including the locally famous River trail.

The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of America. This is a great place to explore history and nature that most travel enthusiasts would love. There are three overlooks that give different views of the Great Falls within a five to ten-minute walk from the visitor centre.

great falls outdoors

Photo: Karis Dambrans via (Flickr)

Rock Creek Park

A vast expanse, beginning in the north west part of Washington DC stretching into the neighbouring state of Maryland that provides a haven for both wildlife and people. It was founded in 1890 by the United states congress as a recreational resource for the nation’s capital. The park consists of park trails which are surrounded by a variety of hardwood trees that make one forget that they are in the nation’s capital.

The Carter Barron Amphitheatre, a 4200 seat multi-use outdoor venue that houses plays, concerts and a popular Citi Open in July is also within the park. One should check out the Pierce Mill which is the only 19th century gristmill which gives you a quick glimpse of 19th century America food processing. For those who are about learning the natural world they can enjoy a seasonal walk with a National Park Ranger especially during the fall/autumn for the range of colours within trees .

There is also the Rock Creek Conservancy who are always looking for volunteers to help their environmental effort to clean up the park and prevent invasive species. The park has  various locations spread out around the park in which one can have picnics, barbecues e.t.c. . During the weekend some park areas are closed off to cars that leading to one completely embracing nature and enjoying themselves.

Rock Creek Park

Photo: Carol McKinney Highsmith via Wikimedia commons

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

The park was originally built to transport coal from mining towns into DC. It is a hub for recreation and history. It is located in Washington’s Georgetown neighbourhood. It consists of a  184.5 mile towpath  that runs along the Potomac River.

One can do recreational activities like cycling from the Waterfront all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. The canal is the Georgetown neighbourhood, one should take a chance to explore the neighbourhood and see the vast amount of activities it has to offer from kayaking to shopping and good food.

Any time of the year is a perfect time to visit the area, but the summer and fall are the most beautiful in order to see the fusion of the trees with the old houses in the area.

chesapeake - national parks

Photo: Ingfbruno Via Wikimedia commons

Fort DuPont Park

This is a 400 arce park that is perfect for recreation, right next to the Anacostia river. Within the park one will find a long hiker-biker trail with numerous trails spurring off it. There is also plenty of space for picnics, there is also a community garden that one can volunteer to work in.  Free summer concerts are offered where one can go see new undiscovered talent from the local area.

deer Fort DuPont Park outdoors

Photo: Edshwan via flickr

There is plenty more the city has to offer and you should not hesitate to ask the friendly locals for assistance in order to fully enjoy your Washington trip.

Also read:

10 National Parks in America You Need To Visit This Summer

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