Getting kids outdoors to have playtime can be a challenge if you live in a city. These urban and suburban playgrounds offer the chance for everyday play in the city to playgrounds that are worth going the distance for.
Cabin John Regional Park
7400 Tuckerman Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
Nestled in the woods of Potomac, Maryland, Cabin John Regional Park offers a delightful array of playground activities for kids to romp in nature. The playground at Cabin John has plenty of slides, colorful trains, obstacle courses and even a wooden treehouse for kids to climb around and burn off some of that energy. When the kids need a break, there’s a small train that takes a loop around the park. Be sure to pack a picnic and sit down at one of the many picnic tables. If you’re getting a group together on a weekend, be sure to reserve one of the picnic pavilions as they will fill up quickly. And if you want to get the family pet out for some play as well, there’s a large dog park for small and larger breeds where Fido can get some playtime as well.
6317 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101
One of the largest and most inclusive playgrounds in the DC area, Clemyjontri focuses on allowing every child to play. Its playground is set up for children regardless of their physical or mental capacities with wheelchair-accessible play areas that even boast lowered monkey bars to make it easy for any child. The park also has Virginia’s first wheelchair swing, called the Liberty swing. The four areas of the park focus on different playtime experiences. There’s the Rainbow Room, which focuses on visual learning and incorporates braille. Then there’s the Schoolhouse and Maze that is designed for those that want to learn more about navigation and time. The Movin’ and Groovin’ section is perfect for those that love cars, trucks and buses, and the Fitness & Fun area is for downright burning energy. All four areas surround a carousel that is wheelchair accessible featuring horses, spinning tea cups and chariots.
6858 Race Track Road
Bowie, MD 20715
When DC’s beautiful weather turns stormy or simply too hot to be climbing around outdoors, head for the inside playground of Joyful Jumps. Every kid loves inflatables and Joyful Jumps is the place to go for the best equipment around to get kids moving and have fun. There’s the traditional moon bounce and slides, but the fun doesn’t stop there. There are obstacle courses designed for kids to climb over, under and through all while trying to keep their balance on an inflatable course. There’s seating for adults that need a break from playing and even two private rooms that are perfect for parties.
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R St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Straight out of a romantic park in a movie, Montrose Park is a hidden gem in Georgetown. Perfectly manicured with a stone gate entrance, this quiet and off-the-beaten-path park is great for kids that want to run around while giving parents the peace of mind that it’s not immediately adjacent to a busy street. The playground equipment is spread out, so it’s not very crowded. There’s monkey bars to move around and kids will enjoy one of the few parks in DC to have swings. When you want to take a stroll in the wilderness, head through the paths of the adjacent Dumbarton Park to see some wildlife, but keep in mind that Dumbarton is more rugged and not good for strollers.
301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Watkins Regional Park is an expansive area for families to spend the day. The park starts with the traditional playgrounds for kids to burn off some of their energy and then continues into a fun-filled day of activities. The whole family can participate in an 18-hole mini-golf course. There’s the Chesapeake Carousel, which was originally at Chesapeake Beach until 1972. Another fun activity is the miniature train that runs through the park and offers a close-up view of Old Maryland Farm. The farm, which is close to the mini train, is open to the public for an agricultural exhibit to teach kids about agriculture. Be sure to check out the schedule to see what learning opportunities are going on that day. There are even hayrides during the summer months. And for even more nature, visit the Nature Center with tons of outdoor and science-focused exhibits.
Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.