The visitor center in the park has several exhibits that are interactive. The different exhibits explain the history of the wetlands and the different birds, mammals, reptiles and insects that can be found in the wetlands. Educational programs and events are put on by the Fairfax County Park Authority at the Visitor Center classrooms and auditorium. The visitor center does have indoor restrooms and water fountains for public use.
The boys loved the boardwalk trail through the wetlands. We saw a ton of wildlife including dragonflies, all different turtle species, frogs, fish, Great Blue Heron but we didn’t make it out to the observation tower to see the beavers. Sadly the youngest was having a melt down by the time we made it to the end of the boardwalk but we could still see the beaver lodges from the boardwalk trail. The park is doing some restorative work towards the backside of the beaver area until about December so you might not see the beavers out while they are working with the heavy machinery. In addition to the boardwalk trail that doesn’t allow jogging, biking or dogs there are additional trails that meet up with the boardwalk trail on both ends that allow all three of these activities. The Observation Tower looked really neat and we are going to go back to the park to get some great shots of the beaver lodges and the overlook of the park. **In one of the pictures below see if you can find the snapping turtle hiding amongst the water lilies.
The parks trails beside the boardwalk trail is crushed gravel and pretty flat so bikes, strollers, and wagons would do okay on the trails. We had a great time at the park and are definitely headed back when the temperatures cool a bit. Even if you don’t live in the area I would recommend checking out this great natural park!!
Our next stop when we were in Alexandria was Woodlawn Neighborhood Park. This small neighborhood park is tucked back behind a newer development off of Route 1. The 11-acre Fairfax County park includes a shaded playground area with swings, picnic tables, basketball and tennis courts. There are a small amount of paved and hiking trails in the park.
The playground area has a small tot lot with one piece of equipment and both types of swings. There is a ton of shade over and around the equipment. Sadly there are no restrooms at this park but you’re not that far from Route 1 to find a public restroom.
This park gets its namesake from the area of Alexandria you’ll find the park in. This use to be my husband’s grandparents neighborhood so it brings back lots of memories for us. If you live near Route 1 and Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House check out this small park.
Mount Vernon Manor Park is a neighborhood park located amongst the Mount Vernon Manor subdivision. The park includes nice tennis courts, basketball court and baseball field. The 13-acre has some paved & pressed gravel walking trails around the park in addition to a small picnic area in complete shade. To check for picnic area reservations and more information head over to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/picnics/
or 8800 McNair Drive, Alexandria, VA 22307 (Runs parallel to Oak Leaf, head all the way to the end of cul-de-sac)
*****Beware the Fairfax COUNTY site gives the wrong address! You can turn on Oak Leaf Drive and drive all the way to the end of cul-de-sac. Tennis courts will be the first thing you see with the playground located in the middle of park****
The playground area is in the middle of the park but can be reached by paved trails. The park has one large piece of play equipment, ride on toy and both types of swings. The park has some shade with plenty of large trees surrounding the it for the kids to get out of the sun. Portable restrooms are available by the baseball field.
The Mount Vernon Manor Park is nice neighborhood park in Alexandria. If you live in the Mount Vernon area near Fort Belvoir you should check it out.
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!
The park has a small tot lot with regular swings. No restrooms available but the picnic shelter is right next to the tot lot. In addition to the small tot lot the tennis and basketball court are in good shape. The playground area is in almost complete shade.
This is a cute little neighborhood park with plenty of sport fields and courts to use. If you happen to live near the Dowden Terrace neighborhood you should check out this neighborhood park.
Glen Hills Park is located in the Heywood Glen neighborhood of Alexandria,VA. Current construction on the Holmes Run Chambliss Crossing Project is fun for the kids to watch while they play at the playground. Eventually the crossing will connect the Dora Kelley Nature Park and Glen Hills Park.
The 2.5-acre park includes picnic tables and one large piece of play equipment. There was plenty of shade but no restrooms. On the day we were there was woodpecker was overhead making lots of noise. During the summer months the park will be in complete shade and has a very natural feel.
In you live in Alexandria and you’re looking for a small natural park Glen Hills Park is perfect.
The park has a large playground with both types of swings. There aren’t any restrooms and not much shade around the playground. But there were plenty of picnic tables. It does have a small fence around the park to the slow the escapees down a little. Parking is located at the street on a curve.
This would be awesome if it had a little shade around the park but the upside is the different types of play equipment it offers. The boys have a blast trying to climb metal chain ladder. If you live in the Parklawn neighborhood or in the Alexandria area you should check out Glasgow 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!
The park only has one piece of play equipment but it’s in great shape. There is little shade over the play area but there is plenty of large trees in the park for the kids to get out of the sun. Sadly there are no restrooms but the kids had a great time playing in a small concrete area that has a historical plaquard and concrete seats. The plaquard explains the history of the area and how it came to be known as Hayfield.
This is a very cute park located at the corner of Hayfield Road and Bing Court in the single-family home neighorhood of Hayfield Farm. If you live in the Hayfield area I suggest you swing by and check it out.