Claude Moore Park in Sterling, VA!

Claude Moore Park in Sterling, VA!

Claude Moore Park in Sterling,VA has many things you can do at the 357-acre park. There are two entrances to the park including the northern natural hiking and picnicking entrance and the southern Sportsplex and Rec Center entrance. The Rec Center has a great indoor fun pool with a slide and play area. Adult fitness area, competition pool, basketball courts, rock climbing wall, indoor track, classes and camps. You can also find the Heritage Farm Museum when you drive past the Rec Center. The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum has great kids area where they can pretend to milk a cow, run a general store, and ride race horses.

******PAVILION RENTAL INFORMATION******

Address: 21544 Old Vestal’s Gap Rd. Sterling, VA 20164 

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We were more interested in the hiking and fishing portion of the park. We were also looking for new geocaches to find with the kids. There is a cute visitor center with different types of fish and amphibians for them to look at in the Discovery Room. Also there are clean indoor restrooms inside the visitor center. Outside you’ll find 11-miles of hiking trails, Lanesville Historic District buildings, 2-fishing ponds, picnic shelters and plenty of park benches and tables. We headed out onto the white trail loop then walked by the ponds, Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum then finished up on the green trail back to the car. You can pick up a trail map at the Visitor Center!

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The trails are definitely true nature trails so strollers and wagons are a no go but a good backpack carrier would work well for the little ones. The fishing ponds have nice platforms to sit at or you can fish along the shoreline of both ponds. Remember to have your VA fishing License handy because I watched the park authority check a few people while we were there. Have fun walking the trails and fishing at Claude Moore Park!!

 

C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA!

C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA!

C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA is so big we had to visit the park a couple times before we did everything. My boys loved this park because they could play on the equipment, hike around and fish all in one trip. The park sits nestled up against Germantown Lake, the 109-acre lake is an old flooded quarry from times past when German settlers arrived in the area.

Address: 10066 Rogues Road Midland, VA 22728 

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******ALL RENTAL INFO FOR PAVILIONS OR BOATS PLEASE CLICK HERE******

The park has so much you can do it’s hard to know where to start. When you pull into the parking lot you’ll notice two different paths on each side of the parking lot. Near the entrance to one path are picnic carts that you can use to take your items to the picnic pavilions, playground area, boat dock, boat rental, snack shack, horseshoe pits and sand volleyball court. Such a neat idea! This portion of the park has a pebble/old asphalt trail around the entire picnic area. At the entrance to the trail you’ll find a map that shows you where everything is located. At the snack shack you can rent a canoe, jonboat with or without motor, kayak, or paddle boat. Life preservers are available for rental as well but each rental comes with two vests. If you want to bring your own boat there is a launch ramp available. Remember anyone 16 years or older needs to have a fishing license. You can easily obtain one at www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses/  and keep it on your person.

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The park has 4 picnic shelters, an amphitheater and tent available for rent. Around the picnic area you’ll find a ton of picnic tables with charcoal grills along the water or just in the large grassy area. Indoor restrooms are available in this portion of the park and were very clean when we were there. Nature trail paths can be reached from the pebble/old asphalt trail with signs pointing you in the right direction. The playground area has two sets of play equipment, both school-aged and preschool age. Both types of swings are available. There isn’t any shade over the play equipment but there are plenty of shelters you can use to get them out of the sun. When we were there they were repairing the smaller play equipment but all the equipment was in good shape. There were other peoples children on the equipment so pardon the picture from a far. I don’t like to infringe on other peoples children…:)

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The part of the park my kids loved was the lake of course. There are some good spots for the kids to fish and not fall in which in my case is a bonus with two boys under the age of 5….:) Near the entrance to the picnic area you would head down the path to the left to find the dock and snack shack. Here you can rent equipment for fishing, volleyball, horseshoes, croquet and or rent a boat with life preservers. For Hours of Operation please click here.

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On one of are other days at the park we decided head towards the dam side of the lake for some hiking . If you follow the path near the boat launching ramp you’ll pass the maintenance shed and ranger home. In this part of the park you’ll find the rope course which no longer has a provider or third party running the course. Porta Potties can be located near the edge of the trees for public use. We didn’t make it all the way around the lake but we still had a nice hike around and the kids got to see a few deer and lots of birds. There were also tons of caches in the park if you’re into geocaching. If you’re into orienteering you can obtain the maps and information for the beginner and advances courses at the office.

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In the front portion of this park you’ll find the Sanctuary: Commerative Grove. Here donated plants or trees can be planted to commemorate a person or special event amongst  a grove of native trees. For more information call (540) 788-4867.

Fauquier County really does have some beautiful parks. Even if you don’t live in the area I would pack a lunch and head out to C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA!

E.C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, VA!

E.C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, VA!

E.C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, VA is split right down the middle by Route 28. One half of the park is the active park where you can find baseball, little league, soccer and synthetic turf fields. There is also basketball courts and two large playground pieces in the active portion of the park. The largest portion of the 667-acre park is natural and includes historical structures, Walney Visitor Center, tons of natural hiking trails, pond with boardwalk, plenty of picnic tables, Cabell’s Mill and Middlegate Historical propeties. To learn more about the park and the rich history follow this link, History of E.C. Lawrence Park.

Active Park Address: On 28 Between Rt. 66 and Westfields Blvd. Entrance at Light.

Natural Portion of the Park: 5040 Walney Road Chantilly, VA 20151

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The active portion of the park is where you’ll find the play equipment. The equipment is for the school aged crowd but there a few small slides for the little ones. There isn’t any shade around the equipment so on a hot day you wouldn’t last very long. The restrooms on this side of the park are porta potties and when we were there they had just been cleaned and restocked.

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We visit the natural portion of the park all the time. It has some great trails for all ages. Below you’ll find a picture of the trail map so you can map out your hike.  A stroller or wagon couldn’t make through all the trails but a backpack would be perfect since the terrain isn’t too terribly tough. We normally park at the Walney Visitor Center to check out the small nature center then walk the trails to the pond. You can also park at the pond and walk in the reverse direction. At the visitor center you can see plenty of reptiles and amphibians to look at along with other historical information. Also inside is a clean restroom that can be accessed when the Visitor Center is open. Around the visitor center you’ll find different structures that made up the Walney Farm. We visited the old dairy storage room and told the boys about how they had to store items that would spoil underground where it was cool and food would spoil slower. Next to the visitor center there is also an old smokehouse where they have artificial meat hanging showing how they would take care of meat. The garden is also nearby where the park authority plants vegetables and fruit during the growing season.

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The E.C. Lawrence Park is one of our favorites. If you enjoy hiking or just looking for a new playground check out this great Fairfax County Park!!

Lorton Park in Lorton, VA

Lorton Park in Lorton, VA

Last week we visited parks in Lorton and came across Lorton Park, which is directly behind the Lorton Library.  Lorton Park is owned and operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority.

9518 Richmond HwyLortonVA 22079

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Located off Richmond Highway, there is an open parking lot for the park, community center and library.  There is a nicely sized playground equipment including climbing equipment, slides and monkey bars.  Directly behind the tot lot are swings as well.  Benches, picnic tables and a grill are nearby the playground area of the park.  The walking trail encompasses the park and makes a full circle.  We did some walking while my toddler played at the playground and it was great because I was able to see him the whole  time, while I was getting some exercise.

**Directly across the Richmond Highway, there were ball fields.  Due to the weather, we didn’t make it across the highway to visit the ballfields. **

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If you are in Lorton,  this is a great park to visit in the summer time.  Cool off in the library for a bit and then let the kids run around and explore at this park!

Glade Recreation Area in Reston, VA!

Glade Recreation Area in Reston, VA!

Glade Recreation Area is part of the Hunter Woods District in the Reston Association.  Included in this park is a tot lot, restrooms, pavilion, basketball and tennis courts and a pool during the Summer months.

Address: 11550 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 

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Glade Recreation Area has a large parking lot.  There is so much to do here and you don’t have to belong to the Reston Association to enjoy some of the perks! There are tennis and basketball courts.  My boys had a ton of fun at the tot lot; it’s great for all ages. The playground itself is tucked in the furthest away from the parking lot.  There’s a little climbing wall and slide.  There is a whole back wall fence that has other play equipment such as a steering wheel and a little kids picnic area.  Two infant swings and two regular swings are included in this play area.   In addition to the little kids picnic area, there is another picnic table with a covering that will keep you shaded as well.   After we played, we took a stroll on the walking trail.  In addition, this park has restrooms, trash cans, benches and a water fountain.  If you belong to the Reston Association you can also enjoy the pool at Glade Recreation Area.

If you are in the Hunter Woods area or nearby, this is a good park to put on your visit list!

 

Colten Neck Recreation Park in Reston, VA!

Colten Neck Recreation Park in Reston, VA!

Colten Neck Recreation Park is a park within the Reston Association and is a nice little park located off Colten Neck Drive in Reston, VA.  There is a walking trail, tennis court, practice tennis station, tot lot, trash benches and a picnic table.

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2400 Colts Neck Road, Reston, VA 20191

This park has lots of shade and is surrounded by trees.  The playground is a nice little piece of equipment including two slides next to each other, steering wheel and climbing area. The walking trail is located at marker 31N, connected by the Colten Neck/South Park neighborhood.  If you are looking to take a nice, peaceful walk, this is a great park to visit. It is very shaded and you can hear all the different nature sounds on the trail.  If you’re a tennis player, there are tennis courts as well as a practice tennis wall.

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If you’re near the Colten Neck neighborhood or looking for a nice shaded park and trail to visit, head out to this park.

 

 

Autumnwood Recreation Area in Reston, VA!

Autumnwood Recreation Area in Reston, VA!

The Autumnwood Recreation Area in Reston is part of the Reston Association park system. Located by the Autumnwood pool and near one of the many paved trails that run through Reston, the park offers a large piece of play equipment and swings.

Autumnwood Recreation Area

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When we visited the park last year (which seems forever and a ton of snow ago) the kids had a great time playing on the large piece of play equipment. My kids are huge fans of slides so they were in heaven with the multiple slides on the piece of equipment. Shade around the playground during the early afternoon was great. Both types of swings are located at the park but sadly no restrooms for the public. If you’re a Reston Association member and the pool is open you may be able to use their public indoor restrooms. There are picnic benches and tables to rest and enjoy a picnic lunch or snack in the shade but still be able to see the kids on the equipment. As always we hit up the small trail system around the park and the kids brought their bikes to ride along the paved trail.

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If you live near or in the North Point District of Reston, check out Autumnwood Recreation Area!

Cabots Point in Reston, VA!

Cabots Point in Reston, VA!

Cabots Point park in Reston, VA is located off of South Lakes Drive and Cabots Point Drive in the Cabots Point neighborhood.  Located in a cul-da-sac, this park is in a quiet neighborhood with lots of shade and space, making it enjoyable with my little ones.

2000 Cabots Point Drive, Reston, VA 

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If you’re looking for a more quiet park to visit, this one is a great option.  As I mentioned above, located in a cul-da-sac, this park has infant and regular swings, a nice, sturdy piece of playground equipment including two slides, a steering wheel and a climbing wall.  Fun for all ages! Although there are not picnic tables, there are a few benches and a nice, big shaded tree that is perfect for a picnic.  There is a large open play area as well where the kids can run around and play some outdoors games.  There is a walking path that connects around the neighborhood as well.  If you bring your dog, they also have a trash can and a “dog waste” station with bags for your convenience.

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If you are in the Cabot Point neighborhood and looking for a nice discreet park to visit, put this one down on your list of parks to visit! You won’t be disappointed!

**Please note:  There is not a restroom at this park location**

Rust Nature Sanctuary & Manor House in Leesburg, VA!

Rust Nature Sanctuary & Manor House in Leesburg, VA!

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 802 Children’s Center Road, Leesburg, VA 20175

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On Tuesday we were invited to a preview of the Fresh Air Kids Program at the Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg, VA. The Audubon Naturalist Society along with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority partnered last year to maintain the grounds and support more programs for the visitors of the Rust Nature Sanctuary. The house and grounds were preserved from development in 1995 and donated to the Audubon Naturalist Society in 2000. In 2011 Audubon Naturalist Society considered closing Rust but 2013 agreed to partner with the NVRPA to remain open to the public. The Rust Manor House on the grounds can also be used for weddings and social events.

Susanne from the Audubon Naturalist Society was nice enough to give myself and my boys a preview of what the Fresh Air Kids Program is all about. We started off upstairs in the Rust Manor and met Ziggy the resident corn snake. The large wall of exhibits is full of items found in nature and in the sanctuary. Most of the items can be handled by the children to learn a little more about the animals and insects.

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The boys were able to borrow binoculars when we headed out on the trail for our hike. But first we sat down outside on a blanket to read a book about how different animals move. We also met some earthworms and discussed their importance on the forest floor. Our hike took us to many different parts of the park including the meadow, the woods and the vernal pond. In the meadow we saw deer tracks, different bird species and several bird houses that were on the property. In the woods she talked about the different habitats of raccoon, rabbits and squirrels. Susanne also discussed with the kids how different animals camouflage themselves from predators. Down at the vernal pond Susanne was lucky enough to fish out a tadpole for the kids to see.

The Audubon Naturalist Society’s Fresh Air Kids spring program is a great way for the kids to get out in nature and learn a little bit more about what lives around us in Loudoun County. The kids will be outside almost the entire hour and half unless there is dangerous weather outside. Classes meet on Fridays from March 28th through May 9th. The kids are to bring a sack lunch to eat outside at the picnic benches too. To register you can call 703-669-0000 or email Susanne at susanne.ortmann@anshome.org.

The Audubon Naturalist Society also offers Summer Camp Programs at the Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg and Broadlands in Ashburn. For more information click here.

The ANS will  be offering a new revitalized program, Unplug and Play! Afterschool Programs. The program will combine science education and physical activity for students. In order for the program to succeed a minimum of 8 students is required. The class will be one day and run for eight weeks. Contact Christine Montagnese at 703-669-0000 and or email christine.montagnese@anshome.org.

Looking for a different options for children birthday parties, Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg and the Broadlands Nature Center in Ashburn offers weekend parties year round. For more information on a nature theme party contact Christine Montagnese at 703-669-0000 and or email christine.montagnese@anshome.org.

The Rust Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful 68-acres to take your family hiking, nature programs, birthday parties, and summer camps. The Rust Manor House is a gorgeous venue for social events and weddings. If you live in the Leesburg area you should check out the Rust Nature Sanctuary and Manor Home.

Bren Mar Park in Alexandria!

Bren Mar Park is a 26-acre park in Alexandria, VA. The park has a large piece of play equipment, unscheduled baseball diamond, small picnic pavilion and a natural trail system. The master plan of the park has changed and as of 2011 the baseball diamond is going to be changed into a dog park. The funds are not yet available for the change but once funds are allocated the change will be made.

6324 Edsall Rd., Alexandria, VA 22312

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The park offers an older large piece of play equipment and few ride on pieces. There is some shade around the equipment but no restrooms at this park. The picnic pavilion is small and little weathered but does give some shade. We did hit the small amount of trails and the kids had a good time on the natural surface. Strollers could make it but it would a bumpy ride. Once the dog park finally gets installed, the trails would be a perfect spot to jog/walk with a dog.

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Bren Mar is definitely an older park and needs a little bit more mulch and some TLC. The kids still had a great time on the equipment and heading out on the trails. If you live in the Edsall area of Alexandria this little park would be a place to stop and play.