Friday, April 13, 2012

And In This Perfect Weather: Our Top 10 Local Outdoor Spots to Play

eyeing up a good, green run at Mt. Vernon

Two of the blog posts we go back to time and again are KidFriendly DC's and No Monster in My Bed's lists of top places to play outdoors.  Since we've been at this blog gig for a while now (one year!), we thought it would be helpful to summarize our ten most favorite outdoor spots to play locally (listed below alphabetically).  Some are also on the other above-mentioned lists (sometimes because they gave us the idea), but we always like to give our own spin on things.  The weather looks like it's starting to really warm up, so get outside and play!

1.  Cantler's Riverside Inn -- OK, so the first up on our list is technically a restaurant.  But it really is one of favorite outdoor destinations (located in Annapolis, MD, it's the least "local" spot on our list) -- sitting outside is a must.  We've been coming here since we were babies and love to check out the boats docking, live crabs, and we've learned to wield a mean crab mallet.  Butter, Old Bay, and a bucket of brew dogs.  Something for everyone to love.  Check out our review from last fall.

2. Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden -- We've been spending a lot of time here -- here's a recent post.  It's in the middle of the Mall madness, but below street level and tucked away a little bit.  And that also presents some barrier to running out in the middle of the street, which helps mom give us some leeway in exploring.  We love to play around the reflecting pool and the interactive, two-way mirror sculpture.  

3.  Montrose Park -- The actual playground at Montrose Park isn't much -- although if your parents have dragged you along shopping to Georgetown, it's a good little break.  It's the adjacent Dumbarton Park and Rock Creek Park that keeps us coming back.  And the huge field is a great place to play with a ball (although the neighborhood also uses it as a dog park, so keep your eyes peeled).  Spring is a great time to get out and explore the creek.   

4.  Mount Vernon -- George's old crib is one our most absolute favorite places to play -- we are members and those cards are well worn.  We actually both enjoy the tour of the mansion, and will mostly cooperate for it, but the green space to run unfettered is the real draw for us.  The cafeteria is decent, but we like to stop in Alexandria on our way home to grab some grub.  Check out our MV posts here and here.  

5.  National Arboretum -- No one will be surprised to find this on our top 10 -- we spend A LOT of time at the Arb and try to explore new areas each visit.  Lately, Fern Valley has been our favorite.  And we could literally spend hours playing at the Capitol Columns.  Peak Azalea bloom is right around the corner (keep an eye on the blossom watch here), so it's a perfect spring outdoor spot.  We've written a bunch about the Arb -- click here for all the posts.    

6.  National Mall Carousel -- Our most recent spin on the Carousel was before a trip to nearby Discovery Theater, but if you are down on the Mall for any reason, it's worth stopping by.  It's not cheap, but they have awesome carousel animals.  And it's a good spot to post up and play on the lawn, too.  We hear the National Zoo is going to be getting a carousel in the next year or so, but until then, we'll keep stopping by the Mall for our rides.

7.  National Zoo -- The animals at the zoo aren't that spectacular (the pandas don't do anything, people), but who doesn't love all that room to run in the middle of the city?  And the zoo recently made the smart move to keep the children's farm and pizza playground, phew.  If you need to get out of the sun for a bit, we suggest Amazonia -- we didn't discover this until recently and it's now one of our faves.  And if you metro it, get off at the Cleveland Park stop (and not the labeled Woodley Park/Zoo stop) -- it's a little bit of a further walk, but it's not uphill like the other.

8.  Oxon Hill Farm -- Hard to believe this farm is so close to the city, but it's one of our favorite farms for it's space to run.  And there is literally hardly anyone else there.  Ever.  Scout out a ranger and take a tractor ride.  Here's our previous post.  

9.  Theodore Roosevelt Island -- Yes, you have to go to Virginia to get there.  But it's worth it.  Run through the woods, spot some not-easily scared wildlife, and check out Teddy while you are there.  You can navigate it with a stroller, but if you don't really need it, we'd leave it at home.  Here's our post from last summer. 

10. U.S. Botanic Garden -- In the warmer months, the Botanic Garden opens up the outdoor Children's Garden, which is really lovely and a nice spot to cool off from the likely scorching hot National Mall.  Bring some water toys and sunscreen and enjoy playing in the fountains, natural play house, and watering plants.  See our previous post on it here.

You can find many more, including those we've visited, but didn't love, on our "Keep It Local" page.  


Linda said...

Nice list! Love that you included Cantler's - such a great place. (And now I have a hankering for crabs.) Can't believe we still haven't been to Oxon Hill...putting it on the top of our must-do list, thx to your rec :)

Darcy said...

It's all circular - so now i've added Cantler's to my list of places to go. Thanks for the rec! I always wanted to check out annapolis but i'm never sure what to do there. This was really helpful!!

Kane and Cameron said...

No kidding - Linda from KFDC and I ran into each other at Potomac Overlook yesterday bc we both got it frm your list! Our other favorites in Annapolis are quiet waters state park (which I'm pretty sure I posted on) and a walk through the naval academy grounds.