Outdoor Recreation near Washington DC

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When you’re living in the country’s capital, you are probably aware of all the chaos around you and the constant traffic situation. Those are everyday situations to be expected in any metropolis, so you should not be surprised by them. A big city comes with a lot of concrete areas, high apartment complexes, skyscrapers, and traffic.

However, something that might come as a surprise to you is the amount of outdoor recreation opportunities. Especially if you only recently moved to Washington D.C. or are just now looking up more information about our nation’s capital with the possibility of relocating there. The wide variety of options for those who don’t mind exploring nature adventures is not to be taken lightly. From beaches to mountains, the area surrounding the city of Washington D.C. has everything that you could possibly want regarding outdoor recreation and activities. Next, we will look at these options and let you know precisely how lively and outdoorsy the US capital can really be.

Waterfront Recreation

While Washington D.C. isn’t located on the waterfront, aside from the Potomac River that is, the city’s access to water and beach activities are available approximately 50 minutes away by car, at Chesapeake Beach. The Chesapeake Bay is a hub of water-related activities, seafood, and smooth blue waters. With around 200 miles of coastline, stretching from southern Virginia to northern Maryland, there you can find anything from quaint fishing villages to nature preserves providing any water-related activities you could think of.

On the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay, you’ll get the chance to enjoy some fishing, boating, crabbing, and sailing at Sandy Point State Park. For more exciting activities, go Kayaking or kit-surfing along the twin beaches of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach. There are even more on-land recreational activities at Assateague Island National Seashore, like hiking some dune trails or watching the island’s wild ponies.

On the Virginia side of the bay, you’ll find some of the best swimming areas at Ocean View Beach Park. Birdwatchers should visit Kiptopeke State Park to spot both birds and wildlife, and here you can also swim, hike, boat, camp, and fish. Virginia Beach allows visitors to enjoy 35 miles of beaches where you can parasail, kayak with dolphins, and fish at your heart’s desire.

Nature Lover’s Heaven

The slogan “Virginia is for nature lovers’ ‘ is so common you’ve probably seen it in various places. The state is proud of its 38 state parks and 60 natural areas, and Washingtonians can easily enjoy the outdoor amenities. The Shenandoah National Park gives hikers around 510 miles to explore. Bikers can also venture on the winding trail as well as horse riders. Camping is one of American’s favorite nature pastime activities, and backcountry backpacking fits right in as well. A bit of adventure will take you along the 200 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway for breathtaking mountain views.

Maryland comes with its own 50 state parks and additional national and regional parks. Seeing the bald eagle in its natural habitat is a great honor for every American, and shorebirds can be spotted both on land and on the water trails of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

There are some nature escapes within Washington DC as well, besides all the free things to do in the city. While the city is packed with historical monuments and cultural points of interest, nature is also part of the city. The U.S. Botanic Garden brings plants from all over the world, and the U.S. National Arboretum covers over 400 acres in blooming gardens ready to mesmerize you. You can find running trails in Rock Creek Park, one of the country’s oldest and largest urban parks.

Exotic Theme Parks

If you want to see some exotic plants and animals, Washington D.C. houses many such species at the National Zoo. However, you can also go for a ride and visit the Virginia Zoo or Maryland’s Salisbury Zoological Park and see their variety of wild animals. For mysterious sea creatures, the National Aquarium from Baltimore is close enough for a weekend trip and completely worth it.

If you’re looking for family-friendly activities, Virginia’s Luray Caverns is one of the most famous caves in the U.S. In Maryland, you can also find the C&O Canal National Historical Park with its waterside trail and the Paw Paw Tunnel, which gives access through 3,118 feet of rock.

If you’re looking for a rush of adrenaline or are a thrill-seeker, the Six Flags America from Maryland has a series of roller coasters to satisfy your craving. Virginia also has some fast rides at Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion. All these options are easily accessible to Washingtonians even if they aren’t located within the city’s limits.

Outdoor Adventures

Whether you are touring with a group of friends or just taking the trails independently, the Potomac River is a hub for light outdoor adventures. From sightseeing to evening monument tours, sightseeing cruises on the Potomac River are sure to give you some of the best views of the city. Georgetown’s Tidal Basin is an excellent place to test your canoeing and kayaking skills or dabble in some paddleboarding if you don’t mind getting wet. The Virginia Creeper Trail is an ideal place for hikers, bikers, or horse riders as it gives you the adrenaline of an offroad trail and the scenic view of one as well. Maryland’s Torrey C. Brown Trail is another excellent place in the area to hike or bike but keep in mind that this used to be a railway, and potential obstacles are to be expected.


Looking at our nation’s capital, we can’t help but get a feeling of pride that overwhelms us. Given how much the city grew over the past decade and how it managed to overcome the nickname “crime capital” only makes it stand out more, but in a good way now. Washingtonians are thrilled that their city isn’t just an area where safety was an issue. The Washington D.C. we see today is alive, proud, and ready to take on any challenges it might face, like becoming the 51st state of the United States of America.

Washington D.C. might still have some work to do, but they are taking all the right steps in the right direction to improve the quality of life of its residents. The amount of outdoor recreational activities available both in and around the city is truly inspiring, and we couldn’t be happier to see more greenery among the concrete. Newcomers and those who have yet to move to Washington D.C. can rest assured that the nation’s capital is turning over a new leaf, and this can be seen all around the city.

If you’re thinking of relocating to the nation’s capital, don’t hesitate to contact real estate agents in Washington D.C. to start the process. Once you find yourself living among some of the most important U.S. monuments and landmarks, walking in the footsteps of historical figures, and diving in the moment while acknowledging the past, you will genuinely become a Washingtonian.