Washington DC Area’s Best Parks for Teens and Tweens

Harper’s Ferry









Pack up that texting, Facebook-loving teen and enjoy some nature this weekend.

It’s time to get our teens outside again, say many experts including Michael Oberschneider, a well known local psychologist who specializes in studying the effects of screen time on kids. We want our kids to be good custodians of the environment, so they need to love and understand nature first.

Here are some great parks in our region that will engage your teen (in alphabetical order):

Antietam National Battlefield, Md…… (301) 432-5124
Imagine a place where one of the most important Civil War battles was fought. Great for bike riding.
Antietam National Cemetery, Md

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, D.C., Md., Va. …..(301) 299-4200
860 miles of trails traversing rural and urban areas. Multitudes of wildlife, interesting historical landmarks and challenging trails – like the Billy Goat Trail in Potomac, Maryland

Claude Moore Farm, Va. ……(703) 442-7557
Remind your teen about Colonial era farming and participate in special teen nights

Fort Washington, Md. …..(301) 763-4600
A beautiful site overlooking the mighty Potomac with a view of Mount Vernon and Alexandria

Gambrill State Park near Frederick, Md

Gambrill State Park, Md….(301) 271-7574  This park near Frederick, Maryland offers challenging hikes involving rocky river crossings and waterfalls where they can get wet.

George Washington Memorial Parkway…….(703) 285-2601…TDD:-2620
Get out and walk the trail but watch the bikers. Cross the DC Bridges and explore some of the monuments.

Glen Echo Park, Md. …..(301) 492-6266
Visit this historic amusement park turned artist colony.

Great Falls Park, Great Falls Tavern, Md. …..(301) 299-3613
Great Falls Park, VA …..(703) 285-2966
Both sides of the Potomac offer breathtaking views of the white water, scenes of nature including sightings of eagles, osprey and other birds of prey. Great climbing boulders on either side for some sunbathing

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Wv. …..(304) 535-6223
The historic Lower Town and John Brown Museum is a must for teens to remind them of how far our nation has moved since the bloody days of slavery and civil war. But the town also has an impressive loop hike from Lower Town to the top of the mountain and back.

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Kenilworth Aquatic Garden

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, DC. …..(202) 426-6905
Undoubtedly the most beautiful water park in the region with blooming aquatic plants. Long paths meander around ponds and by the Anacostia River, great place for a picnic.




Manassas Battlefield Park, Va….(703) 361-1339 This park has rangers who will describe the battle between the Union and Confederates, but it’s also a nice place to take a walk.

Manassas Battlefield Park
Manassas Battlefield Park

Old Post Office Tower, D.C. …..(202) 606-8691
You don’t have to go to the top of the Washington Monument for a great view of the city. Climb or ride the elevator to the top of the Post Office Pavilion for an amazing view.

Rock Creek Park, D.C. miles of roving trails moving up and down in the heart of an urban paradise. Great for cycling, hiking, picnics.

The US Arboretum – Hundreds of acres of parks, plants, trees, paths and lots of privacy in this little used treasure off New York Avenue

The US Arboretum


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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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