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As the days get shorter and the air gets crisper, it’s not surprising that people want to savor the remaining good weather as much as possible. And one of the best ways to easily have some outdoor fun in Arlington is to have a picnic in one of Arlington’s many parks!
For today’s Neighborhood Spotlight, we want to specifically highlight 3 of our favorite places for picnicking. All of these spots are great options for soaking up the final vestiges of the summer sun — and even once winter is fully here, these Arlington picnic spaces are great ways to enjoy Northern Virginia (while remaining socially distant, to boot)!
Do you have a hidden (or not-so-hidden) gem of a park, restaurant or entertainment spot that you want us to highlight? Just let us know down in the comments!
Let’s get started!
Gravelly Point Park
If you are looking for a truly unique picnic setting, look no further than Gravelly Point Park. Located just north of Reagan Airport along the George Washington Parkway, this bankside green space is perfect for picnickers.
The main runway at Reagan (known as Runway 1/19, in case you’re interested) points directly towards the park. This means that planes using these runways soar directly over the heads of onlookers, often as low as just a couple hundred feet in the air. Because Gravelly Point is less than 1,000 feet from the end of the runway, it is one of the most stunning spots for airplane spotters in the entire country.
Getting to Gravelly Point
Unlike many other green spaces in Northern Virginia, it can be a bit tricky to take your car to Gravelly Point Park. Although the picnic space is located along the George Washington Parkway, parking is somewhat limited.
One alternative to parking and walking is to bike to Gravelly Point using the Mount Vernon Trail!
With its views of Washington, D.C. and gorgeous, cultivated green areas, Gateway Park is another of our favorite places for a picnic in Arlington. This park is located in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington and features 3 acres of beauty, both natural and manmade.
Gateway might not sit directly on the Potomac, but visitors can still enjoy a breathtaking vantage of the river and Georgetown, the popular D.C. neighborhood, from Gateway Park’s Skywalk.
In addition to being a great place to lay out a prepared meal, Gateway Park hosts a lot of events to enjoy. The amphitheater at Gateway Park is home to the Rosslyn Jazz Fest. Currently, the park is hosting its O2 (Office Outside) program. This allows locals to get a taste of the outdoors while still taking care of business with open-air desks and complimentary WiFi!
Getting to Gateway Park
The Arlington picnic space is located at 1300 Lee Highway, right at the base of Key Bridge. Please note that parking in the area can be somewhat limited, so you might have to park farther away and walk.
As an alternative, you can easily access Gateway via the Rosslyn Metro Station. The park is just a short walk from the Metro stop.
Dark Star Park
In terms of basking in planned, artistic beauty, there aren’t many things to do in Arlington that rival Dark Star Park. This green space/art installation was originally built in 1984, designed and overseen by the famous sculptor Nancy Holt.
Once per year, on August 1, the natural shadows cast by the Dark Stars line up with these pre-set markings at exactly 9:32 a.m. Holt chose August 1 to commemorate the anniversary of William Ross’s 1860 purchase of the land that became Rosslyn.
But the question remains — how is Dark Star Park as a picnic spot?
In a word: lovely. Dark Star Park offers a welcome respite from the urban environment of Rosslyn, with shrubbery and grass that are a vibrant contrast to the sea of glass and concrete that marks much of the Arlington neighborhood. Large trees ring the park, providing a pleasant shade to enjoy your spread of food and drink.
Getting to Dark Star Park
Dark Star Park stands at 1655 North Fort Myer Drive in Arlington, sandwiched between Fort Myer Drive and N. Lynn Street. There are 2 separate parking garages immediately adjacent to the park, so getting to Dark Star by car is convenient. Otherwise, the Rosslyn Metro stop is only a few blocks away, for those who prefer taking the train.
There are a ton of great places to enjoy a picnic when living in Arlington — in fact, far too many to cover in a single article. The ones listed above are just a few of our favorites… but we want to get your input, too! What is your favorite spot to have a picnic in Arlington? Let us know down in the comments below!
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