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With parks, trails, nature centers and more, outdoor experiences abound in Arlington. Find the type of adventure you’re looking for here.
With its gleaming skyscrapers and vibrant city vibe, Arlington may not seem like an outdoorsy destination. But you’ll find that Arlington has an abundance of green spaces and parks for every member of the family to enjoy.
From biking and walking to exploring nature centers and historic sites, Arlington’s outdoor activities are a breath of fresh air in urban life. So along with your exploration of famous capital-area sights, be sure to take advantage of some of the county’s outdoor recreational opportunities. Here’s how to make the most of them.
Start with Arlington's 10 vibrant, walkable neighborhoods, home to 1,100 acres of parks and open space connected by more than 75 miles of multi-use trails. It's no wonder the American College of Sports Medicine has named Arlington the Fittest City in America every year from 2018 to 2022.
The county has also racked up a garden-full of other awards and accolades for its appeal to lovers of the outdoors. Honors include America’s Most Walkable Suburb and Gold-Level Walk-Friendly Community named by America Walks, Silver-Level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, and Fourth Best Park System in the Nation designated by the Trust for Public Land.
Ready to venture out?
As the Fourth Best Park System in the Nation, Arlington boasts a whopping 157 parks and nature centers to explore. With sports facilities, hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and lovely green spaces to breathe deeply and enjoy nature, they offer a respite from urban living. You can play every sport imaginable, including baseball, basketball, handball, pickleball, soccer, tennis, volleyball — and even bocce, disc golf, futsal and horseshoes.
They range from a pocket park like 0.1-acre bench-lined Belvedere Park to a behemoth like 100-acre Clencarlyn Park full of nature trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, a nature center and a rain garden.
Stop and smell the roses — literally — at Bon Air Park’s beautiful rose garden that features more than 120 different varieties, making it a popular wedding location. Let Rover roam at nine parks for pooches, including Fort Bernard Dog Park, Fort Ethan Allen Dog Park, James Hunter Dog Park or Shirlington Dog Park. Learn about Civil War history at Fort C.F. Smith Park’s Civil War Visitor Center.
Check out the Arlington County Parks & Recreation Department's calendar for free programs for all ages.
Ride, run, hike or stroll through forests, over streams and past scenic vistas on Arlington's 17 trails. Create your own sightseeing tour along miles of pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, mixed-use paths and quiet residential streets using ideas from BikeArlington and WalkArlington. Runners can count on Clarendon’s Pacers Running, Arlington’s largest and most respected running specialty store, to supply their running needs and trail advice.
Bike along Washington & Old Dominion Trail’s 45 miles through the urban heartland and countryside of Northern Virginia. Or set out on two wheels on the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail from Rosslyn all the way to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. Hoof it on the wooded Trail at Lubber Run Park, where an amphitheater rewards you with summer performances. Pack a picnic for the paved Four Mile Run Trail.
Experience the outdoor beauty of national open-air treasures like Arlington National Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial, the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) and the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
Enjoy Arlington’s miles of beautiful land bordering the Potomac River. Take in world-famous views of DC from Arlington’s riverfront and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Immerse yourself in nature at Theodore Roosevelt Island and the LBJ Memorial Grove on the Potomac. Go plane spotting at riverside Gravelly Point Park and birding at the nearby Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary.
See Arlington and Washington, DC, from the river. Just a short walk across Key Bridge from Rosslyn, the Key Bridge Boathouse provides canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals, as well as classes and guided tours.
Discover Arlington's more than 70 pieces of internationally renowned public art on an Arlington Arts’ self-guided walking tour of Rosslyn. It’s a delightful way to appreciate art outdoors.
Marine Corps Marathon is live again this year, with marathon-related events scheduled throughout the weekend of October 29 – 31, 2021.Learn More