On our latest park hopping trip our first stop was Grist Mill Park in Alexandria, VA. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a large park on the east side Route 1. The big red Barn and Silo is easily visible from the road and parking lot. Around the barn are community garden plots and a off leash dog park. The 75-acre park also has baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts.
In addition to the sports facilities, the park has a large playground area equipped with large and small pieces of play equipment. All was in great shape and many different activities for all skill level. There was no shade over the equipment but there were several trees around the play area the kids could get under out of the sun. Sadly there are no swings at this park but there are restrooms in the form of porta potties near the parking lot. If you’re into walking, hiking and or biking there are a few crushed stone paths around sports fields and a few hiking trails along the tree line towards the back and along the edges of the park.
The proximity to Fort Belvoir makes it a nice retreat from the base for military families. If you live near the Fort Belvoir area of Alexandria you should check out Grist Mill Park!
My family and I had a great time checking out Dora Kelley Park and Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center in Alexandria, VA last week. The natural 50-acre park has 1-mile of nature trail that works it way through the park. A paved bike trail starts at Van Dorn St. and reaches Sanger Avenue on the other side of the park. Dora Kelley Park is part of the City of Alexandria and is a stop on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail System. Also if you’re into geocaching there are several caches hidden in the park.
Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center is attached to the William Ramsey Elementary School and William Ramsey Recreation Center. When you pull into the parking lot just drive all the way to the back and you’ll find the Nature Center. The Nature Center had a few animal exhibits and cultural exhibits based around the history of Dora Kelley Park and the City of Alexandria. Programs through the Nature Center are available as well as facility rental for events. The Nature Center is not open on Monday and Tuesday even during the winter months. Sunday during the winter months the Nature Center is also closed. For more information click here.
I would totally recommend doing both of these together on a nice day. Dora Kelley worked very hard to make sure open space was maintained in the City of Alexandria and her work was acknowledged by naming the park after her. Dora Kelley Park has several trail entrances around the park so you don’t have to just enter at the Nature Center parking lot. When Spring finally arrives check out Dora Kelley Park and Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center.
Today we headed back to a great park in Franconia, VA, Lee District Park & RECenter. I haven’t been back to the park since they completed the new play area, Chessie’s Big Backyard located by the Our Special Harbor Sprayground. Lee District Park is a 137-acre park complete with RECenter, large playground located by the RECenter, amphitheater, sand volleyball courts, tennis, basketball courts, baseball, soccer fields, and walking/hiking trails. The Family Recreation Area includes the sprayground, fully accessible playground, and treehouse. To check for reservations of shelter and picnic areas click here to find more information, http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/picnics/lee.htm
The Family Recreation Area has the sprayground which is open from May to September and FREE! The great part is they only allow a certain amount of people in at one time so it doesn’t get overcrowded. Right next door to the sprayground is Chessie’s Big Backyard. The play area is fully accessible to all children with padded rubber flooring and ramps wide enough for wheelchair access. Chessie’s Big Backyard does have lots of shade around it and the best part is the indoor restrooms located right next to the play area. We normally eat our lunch in the treehouse but it has no benches or tables. Just outside the entrance to the treehouse are a few circular benches and on the otherside of the play area is a large pavilion. Plenty of shade to eat a snack or pack a lunch. The only downside to the Chessie’s play area is if you have multiple children to watch it can be tough to see all sides of the play area and you constantly have to walk around to make sure you can get a peek of them.
For pictures of the treehouse, check out this article.
The other playground is located right next to the RECenter. The playground normally has a cover over the equipment but has been taken off for the winter and repair. We weren’t able to hit this playground for very long before we had to head out. There are many different pieces of play equipment for all ages. You can park near the RECenter or near the sand volleyball courts. Restrooms are located inside the RECenter.
We didn’t get a chance to hit the trails this time but next time we are over there we’ll head out. The boys and I had a great time at the park. This park is one of my favorites!
Four Mile Run Park in the City of Alexandria is a large park and has a few different entrances depending on what activity you plan on doing at the park. The park includes picnic areas, baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, basketball court, paved walking/biking trails, fishing, and playground. The park gets it’s name from the Four Mile Run Trail that is 7 miles long and runs from Falls Church to Mount Vernon. The Four Mile Run Park has it’s own paved trail that runs through the park and eventually meets up with the Mt. Vernon Trail. For picnic area reservations you can find more info here, https://www.alexandriava.gov/recreation/info/default.aspx?id=45756
Of course when we were at the park we were more interested in the playground. The playground has one piece of play equipment and both types swings. Restrooms are porta potties by the soccer fields (closest to the play equipment) and also indoor restrooms by the baseball fields. There isn’t much shade over the equipment but there are a few trees around the equipment for the kids to get out of the sun.
Unless you were looking for the playground at Four Mile Run Park you would never know this park had play equipment. To access the play equipment it’s easier to park at the Mt. Vernon Avenue entrance and take the path to the park. If you live in this area of City of Alexandria check out Four Mile Run Park!