This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.
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!
New Coworking Space Coming to Ballston — “Piedmont Office Realty Trust signed a 29K SF lease with WeWork at its Arlington Tower office building at 901 North Glebe Road in Ballston, the REIT said in its Q2 earnings release Wednesday evening. The coworking giant will take the entire fifth floor and plans to open before the end of the year, Piedmont Director Chris Poppell tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]
Disaster Declaration May Be Coming Soon — “A disaster designation based on damage assessments in Arlington County would allow homeowners and businesses in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County to apply for low-interest federal loans beginning as soon as next week to help pay for repairs. Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney expects the designation to be approved within the next two weeks.” [WTOP]
Changes Proposed for Pentagon City Hotel — “The owner of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City is gearing up for a play to capitalize on the 627-room hotel’s proximity to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. Tom Baltimore, CEO of the hotel’s owner, Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK), told analysts on its second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the hotel is one of several the company is evaluating as possible redevelopment opportunities.” [Washington Business Journal]
Video: Dark Star Park Day — A timelapse video captured the moment on Thursday morning when the shadows lined up at Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park, as happens once a year on Aug. 1. [Twitter]
Arlington Boy Lives Dream in Boston — “There was a special visitor to the WBZ Weather Center on Thursday. Noah Coon from Arlington, Virginia is a big weather fan and stopped by the studio thanks to Dream On 3. Noah has cerebral palsy and was in Boston to visit the Red Sox. Because he’s also a fan of meteorology, he came to visit the WBZ weather team.” [WBZ]
Video: Yorktown vs. W-L — Just published online: “Long-lost footage of the famous Nov. 5, 1970, mud bowl football game between the Yorktown High School Patriots and the Washington-Lee Generals. Yorktown was favored with a 9-0 record but W-L won 12-0 and earned the Potomac District championship. [YouTube]
Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park is growing and recently swallowed a nearby slip lane.
The park is notable for the somewhat strange concrete orbs and poles, designed to cast perfectly aligned shadows every August 1. The expansion of the park was planned as part of the Core of Rosslyn study, a project aimed at making Rosslyn’s street network more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
The first stage of the expansion is the closure of a slip lane between Fort Myer Drive and N. Lynn Street. The lane was closed last week and will now be used as park space, furnished with tables, chairs, and artwork.
According to the project website, the county government is hopeful that the community will use the new open space as a daily activity spot.
The next stage of the project will involve the expansion of Dark Star Park’s green space and sidewalks into the unutilized street space, but that expansion is still in the early design stages.
Funding for the second stage of the project is expected to be determined as part of the next Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget update.
Insert your own Grateful Dead reference, hippies.
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) July 25, 2019
Images via Arlington County
This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
What better way to mark the national significance of a sculpture that is both a regional landmark and a cornerstone of Arlington’s internationally acclaimed public art collection than a series of events celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Dark Star Park!
Every August 1 at 9:32 a.m., artist Nancy Holt’s Dark Star Park (1984), in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood, aligns with the sun. Shadows cast by the spheres and poles of this landmark outdoor sculpture align with their permanent forms on the ground, marking the moment of Rosslyn’s founding. Dark Star Park is also extraordinary in that it is among the late artist’s few works in an accessible urban area.
Activities range from film screenings and a panel discussion, to a world premiere of a new site-specific work by new music notables Janel and Anthony. Events are scheduled both at the Hirshhorn, as well as on-site at Dark Star Park. They include:
In Conversation: Time in Public Sculpture
Wednesday, July 31, 6:30 p.m. — Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum (Independence Avenue and 7th Street, Washington, D.C. 20560).
Free, tickets available starting Thursday, July 11, 12 p.m. EST.
Holt/Smithson Foundation’s Executive Director Lisa Le Feuvre will lead a panel discussion exploring the ever-evolving nature of sculpture in the public realm with Arlington Public Art Founding Director Angela Anderson Adams, Hirshhorn Associate Curator Anne Reeve and the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum Director Brett Littman.
Janel and Anthony Performance
Thursday, August 1, assemble 9 a.m. — Dark Star Park (1655 Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22209).
Free and open to the public.
The world premiere of an original site-specific composition by Cuneiform recording artists Janel and Anthony. The live performance (which will begin at approx. 9:20 a.m.) will coordinate with the 9:32 a.m. shadow alignment.
The Alignment at Dark Star Park
Thursday, August 1, 9:32 a.m. — Dark Star Park (1655 Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22209).
Free and open to the public.
The community is invited to watch as the sculpture aligns with the sun and celebrate with light refreshments provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.
Nancy Holt Film Screenings with an introduction by Lisa Le Feuvre
Thursday, August 1, 12:30 p.m., & Saturday, August 3, 2 p.m. — Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn (Independence Ave and 7th Street, Washington, D.C. 20560).
Free, first-come, first-served seating.
Screening of Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels (1978, 26 min.) and Nancy Holt, Art in the Public Eye: The Making of Dark Star Park (1988, 33 min.). The films reveal the making of visionary land artist Nancy Holt’s earthworks, serving both as documentation of her best-known land art sculptures and as artworks in themselves.
Check out the video below for a peek at a past shadow alignment on Dark Star Park Day!
For detailed information about the 35th Anniversary Celebration of Dark Star Park, visit this link.
Wahlburgers Coming to Ballston — Wahlburgers, the burger chain founded by the show biz Wahlbergs (Mark, Donnie, Paul), is coming to Ballston next year. The eatery will be located near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road. [Washington Post]
SER Expanding to Capitol Hill? — The team behind SER restaurant in Ballston — or, at least, part of the team — is opening a new restaurant on Capitol Hill in the former Sona Creamery and Wine Bar space. [Washington Business Journal]
Metro Releases Cause of Derailment — What caused a Metro train to derail near the East Falls Church station on Friday? The transit agency says it was a deteriorated section of track in which the rails became too wide. [Washington Post]
Dark Star Park Day — Yesterday Arlington County held its annual observance of Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn. The public park, built in 1984, is designed to have its shadows line up once a year, on Aug. 1. [Storify]
County Touts Innovation Recognition — Three Arlington County programs have been recognized for innovation from the Virginia Association of Counties. [Arlington County]
Road Rage on a Bike Trail — Road rage isn’t something that only happens with motorists. Occasionally, it happens among cyclists as well, as this story from an incident on the Mt. Vernon Trail demonstrates. [Storify]
Dark Star Park Day Tomorrow — Tomorrow morning Rosslyn will celebrate “Dark Star Park Day.” At precisely 9:32 a.m. on August 1 of each year, the shadows cast by the stone spheres and iron poles in Dark Star Park (1655 N. Ft. Myer Drive) line up with the permanently-installed artistic images of shadows on the ground. Tomorrow’s event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include a photo contest. [Rosslyn BID]
Record Contributions to Affordable Housing Fund — Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) saw a record $10.4 million in loan repayments and developer contributions in Fiscal Year 2012. The AHIF, which is used to help fund affordable housing projects, is set to receive $9.5 million in tax dollars in FY 2013, in addition to any repayments and contributions. [Arlington County]
County Looks for Investment Consultant — Arlington is looking for an investment professional to consult on private investments for its $1.5 billion Arlington County Employees’ Retirement System. The retirement fund is reportedly looking to invest $100 to $200 million in private equity. [Pensions & Investments]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Today, at 9:32 a.m., the shadows cast by the stone spheres and iron poles in Dark Star Park (1655 N. Ft. Myer Drive) will line up with the permanently-installed artistic images of shadows on the ground.
While a grand all-day festival — like the one held in 2009 to mark the park’s 25th anniversary — is not planned this year, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District expects fans of the urban park to stop by this morning to witness the annual event.
Photo via Rosslyn BID