One of my favorite posts I’ve penned for this blog is one that is actually incomplete — and probably will remain that way. And I love that. The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids contains an ever-growing list of suggestions of where to…well, the title really says it all.
I’m partial to the post for a few reasons, the most significant being that I relish a nice day outdoors, and the list encompasses some of my favorite places and activities all in one fell swoop. It also provides an easy one-post stop for readers seeking ideas for al fresco family pursuits.
And I love that the post will stay unfinished because that means there will always be new places to discover. For all I have seen and done with my kids in our city and surrounds, there are still so many more places and adventures we have yet to explore and experience.
That reality came into play (literally, you might say) recently when I took the kids to the playground at Cabin John Regional Park for the first time. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the park before — I actually played there during my days on the company softball team years ago — but I had never been to the playground, and I guess I figured we had them nearby, so we didn’t need to venture 30 minutes in the car just to climb and slide.
Well, now that I’ve been to the Cabin John playground with the kids, I can say that not only is it worth the drive, it also ranks among our top playgrounds in the area. First of all, it’s a sublime setting. The primary-colored play structures are scattered throughout a wooded section of the park. Tall trees surround the area, and their long shadows streak across sunlit surfaces. Kids can climb up, slide down, scramble over, swing from, even pretend to drive the apparatuses. And while there are many structures of all kinds of configurations for varying ages, there’s also a lot of open space in which to run around. My kids covered the entire play center and then some — they also hiked up and down a “mountain” of wood chips — and I don’t think their smiles faded for a second. After nearly two hours of play, I was finally able to convince them to break for lunch, which we enjoyed at one of several picnic tables available right in the middle of all the action.
As if that isn’t enough, there is also a Miniature Train that offers rides through the woods ($1.75 for ages 3 and up, free for 2 and under with adult). A replica of an 1863 steam locomotive, the train is adorable and has a very “Thomas” look that will thrill kids. The depot is just a short walk from the playground, and trains depart about every half hour for a 15-minute chug along the rails that wind around the playground and loop back to the station. A fun nearby diversion while you wait for your train are a talking, trash-eating pig and a hippo head water fountain.
Also of note: There are restrooms adjacent to the playground as well as more picnic areas and lots of open green space near the train. And with more than 525 acres, Cabin John Regional Park offers much, much more to enjoy including athletic fields, hiking trails, tennis courts, an indoor ice rink. The park’s website has information about all of these recreational facilities.
Now off to add this gem to the big list.