I’ve been meaning to explore my own backyard. I don’t plan on staying in DC forever and would like to take the chance to enjoy the fun things I have at my fingertips while I can. So Saturday afternoon I met my dad half way between our places with no plans other than to go for a drive. We tossed around a few ideas as we hit the road, but when I mentioned I had received a few recs for spots in Arlington, it was a no brainer – we hopped on 495 and drove south towards the George Washington Parkway to make the beautiful drive along the Potomac river.
My favorite part about this drive is the numerous scenic overlooks built along the road. Whoever made those knew what they were doing. Without the traffic that normally clogs all of DC’s roads during the week, we whizzed along in the sunshine.
When you’re heading to Teddy Roosevelt Island from Maryland, the entrance is on the other side (northbound) of the parkway. We didn’t mind at all because we also wanted to make a pit stop at Gravelly Point, so we kept on going and looped around at Reagan airport before pulling into the Gravelly Point Park parking lot. Gravelly Point offers an open space on the water to picnic, play and bike, while the Reagan flights come in for landing just above your head.
My dad always volunteers to pick me up from the airport when I fly into DCA because he comes a little early and watch the planes land. It’s a fun little gem that escapes the typical crowds associated with this area.
After watching a few flights land, dreaming of where they may have come from, we jumped back in the car heading off for our little island.
When we pulled into the parking lot we snagged the last spot. Many people bike and lock up at one of the many bike racks. We walked over to the pedestrian bridge and within moments the Arlington skyline disappeared behind us as we were enveloped into a forest of greenery. I consider myself lucky, living near Rock Creek Park, with loads of nature trails for the picking, but in Arlington this little natural escape can’t be beat. The perfect oasis to make you forget you’re right on the edge of a bustling urban center. And considering the stressful nature of most jobs around here, it’s exactly what we need.
From the island we watched people float by on their kayaks and paddle boards rented from the Key Bridge Boathouse. Paddle boarding the Potomac is definitely going on my list of adventures for next time!
By car, you can only access Teddy Roosevelt Island driving northbound on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. If you are driving southbound, like we were, loop around at Reagan airport but make a quick stop at Gravelly Point before continuing north to the Teddy Roosevelt Island parking lot.
If you aren’t driving, you can reach the island on foot or by bike. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro station across the Key Bridge. The Mount Vernon Trail and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail pass the island.