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Outdoor Summer Fun in Arlington, Virginia

With its gleaming skyscrapers and lively city vibe, Arlington may not seem like an outdoorsy destination. But when you visit, you’ll find that Arlington’s natural landscapes are filled with a colorful array of flora and fauna.

Along with your exploration of famous capital-area sights, be sure to take advantage of some of Arlington’s outdoor recreational opportunities.

From biking and walking to exploring nature centers and historic sites, Arlington’s outdoor activities are a breath of fresh air in city life. Arlington has more than 75 miles of trails and 1,100 acres of park and open space, and you’ll be just steps away from all this nature throughout your stay. Here’s how to make the most of it!

Bicyclists, walkers and runners enjoy the D.C. views along the Mount Vernon Trail
Mount Vernon Trail, by Jake McGuire

Paths to Fun - Biking and Hiking Trails

Mount Vernon Trail

Ride a bike or take a jog down the Mount Vernon Trail along the shores of the Potomac River. Starting in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, the trail goes all the way to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, nearly 20 miles south. The path's shady, winding paths are mostly flat, and the trail gives you unobstructed views of Washington, D.C. as you cruise past green spaces, old bridges and marinas. Stop for a picnic at Gravelly Point and get a close-up view of takeoffs and landings at nearby Reagan National Airport.

Arlington Loop

Feeling ambitious? Walk or ride the “Arlington Loop,” a paved route on parts of four dedicated multi-purpose trails -- 16.2 miles if you cover it all. You’ll enjoy scenic views of the capital skyline, Reagan National Airport, the Four Mile Run stream and more. You can even stop at the Village at Shirlington for an al fresco bite at one of many restaurants. Need wheels? Stop by any of the more than 90 Capital Bikeshare stations found throughout Arlington and purchase a day pass.

Need more hiking and biking ideas? Experts at WalkArlington, a walking education and encouragement program, have just the path for you with their review of The Best Biking and Hiking Trails in Arlington!

Potomac Overlook
Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Parks to Discover

Potomac Overlook Regional Park

To get up close to nature, spend some time deep in the woods of Potomac Overlook Regional Park, where you can explore 70 acres of forest, trails, and educational gardens. To see the park at its most spectacular, go in the spring. Keep an eye out for deer and other wildlife.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Explore Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to America’s 26th president. The island, accessible from the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington, has miles of trails through wooded uplands and swampy bottomlands, all set aside to honor Roosevelt’s legacy as a great outdoorsman and conservationist. Volunteer-led weekly park runs and occasional moonlit walks are offered around the island.

 Theodore Roosevelt Island kayaking @jefforner
Theodore Roosevelt Island via @jefforner

Access to the Water

Columbia Island Marina

Also along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Columbia Island Marina serves as a dock for more than 300 vessels and as a put-in for kayaks and paddleboards. The marina is located in the beautiful Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove on the Pentagon Lagoon. Setting out from here will give you instant views of Washington, D.C. monuments.

Key Bridge Boathouse

See Arlington and Washington, D.C. from the river! Just a short walk across Key Bridge from Rosslyn, the Key Bridge Boathouse provides rentals for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding, as well as a selection of classes and tours. Time it right, and you can even participate in a Full Moon Monuments Paddle or a Twilight Monuments Tour.

To further embrace nature, visit one of Arlington’s farmers markets for locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other treats!