On the recommendations of a couple of friends, our family visited Bladensburg Waterfront Park this past weekend. We didn’t know much about the park, except that it was located — as its name indicates — in Bladensburg, Md, on the Anacostia River. So, we packed some lunch and planned to picnic and do some hiking.
I probably should have done a little more research before heading over because we realized upon our arrival that it’s not much of a hiking kind of place. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just not what we expected. Bladensburg Waterfront Park is actually about a quarter-mile stretch of paved area along the river with a few grassy sections, a small playground, a couple of gazebos, a picnic pavilion, some opportunities to learn about the history of the area, and a dock for a pontoon and rowboats and paddling vessels.
You can rent boats there to explore the river, and apparently you can paddle to the National Arboretum. There was a rowing event going on while we were there, and it was somewhat busy around the boating area, so we kept our visit on land. Bikes are also available for rent, and the Anacostia River Trail runs right through the park for a pretty and easy cycling route alongside the water.
They also offer pontoon boat tours to visitors both during the week and on weekends, though times are limited. Tuesdays through Fridays from April 16 – October 31, rides are 12-12:45pm. On Saturdays and Sundays from May 4 – October 27, you can catch one from 5-5:45pm. (2016 Update: The boat tour days have changed, and they are now only offered Thursdays & Fridays during the week for $2/PG County residents, $3/non-residents.)
After taking a short walk across the steel bridge spanning the river, we picnicked in a gazebo, and the kids enjoyed the playground for awhile. Then we checked out the rest of the park, reading about the Battle of Bladensburg and the former dueling grounds, a 19th century army encampment, and the region’s prehistoric past within Dinosaur Alley.
We also took a walk out on the small dock before heading over to an old train caboose that is open to climb aboard and explore. There’s also a Visitor Center with exhibits about the Battle of Bladensburg, but that was closed during our visit. Something to do next time along with some fun on the river.
Bladensburg Waterfront Park is located at 4601 Annapolis Road in Bladensburg, Md. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and the Visitor Center is open 10am – 4pm. Admission is free.
Boat and bike rentals are by the day, boats starting at $16 and bikes at $5. Visit the website for a complete list of rates.