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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!
Do you know anyone who is interested in buying or selling a home now in Arlington or anywhere else in the DMV? Just click here or email [email protected] today for a free real estate consultation!
Planning is underway for a temporary dog park in Rosslyn that could eventually become permanent.
The dog park will be built in an underutilized grassy area on the west end of Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway). The current plans call for it to be divided into a 8,000 square foot section for large dogs and a 2,900 square foot section for small dogs.
A design process for the dog park is now underway and expected to wrap up by the end of the year. A construction timeline has not yet been revealed.
“The facility is proposed to include separate areas to accommodate both large and small dogs, fencing with screening in some areas, upgraded lighting, a water source for dogs, grass surfacing, double entry gates, maintenance gates, repurposed and ADA accessible benches, dog waste receptacles, a message board, and standard County signage,” the project website says.” Gateway Park is currently lighted, and the upgraded lights associated with this project will allow visitors to use the dog park until the lights turn off at 9 p.m.”
The county is seeking feedback on the draft design for the park.
If approved, the temporary park’s approximately $43,700 cost is to be paid by R-DOGS, the private group of Rosslyn area dog owners that has been pushing for a new dog park since 2018. The county parks department will maintain the dog park with help from R-DOGS, which is asking its members to provide feedback on the design.
“Every R-DOGS member is needed to comment… And ask all you friends and neighbors to add their comments,” the group said in a letter to supporters. “This is probably the only opportunity our dogs will have for an off-leash park within Rosslyn and walking distance for their human companions.”
The park could become permanent after the master plan for Gateway Park is reviewed in 2022.
“If approved, this park will be available for community use until a park master plan is developed for Gateway Park and there is funding to construct the improvements,” the county said. “The temporary dog park will also be reviewed annually to ensure it is operating safely and in accordance with the County’s policies regarding temporary park uses and facilities.”
A recent presentation noted that the dog park is to be built in an area not typically used by annual public events that use Gateway Park, like the Rosslyn Jazz Festival.
“If the temporary dog park is built on a portion of the west end of Gateway Park, the east side will still be usable for annual events,” the county said.
A separate proposal for a new dog park in Pentagon City is also making some progress. In June it was reported that Amazon was pledging $50,000 for the temporary amenities in the northern end of Virginia Highlands Park, near Pentagon Row and Pentagon City mall.
An outdoor co-working space is set to open in mid-October at a Rosslyn park.
Outdoor Office, or O2, is coming to Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) courtesy of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. The idea is to safely provide “a retreat for professionals looking for an inspiring change of scenery” during the pandemic.
“O2 is free to all, and will be accessible with an online reservation system,” a spokeswoman explained. “There will be two distinct working stations with multiple physically-distanced seating options and free wifi.”
Given the time of year, would-be outdoor office-goers should pack a sweater along with their laptop.
More on the concept from a press release:
Today, the Rosslyn BID announced a new, outdoor workspace coming to Gateway Park in mid-October called O2, which stands for Outdoor Office. Prioritizing safety and productivity, O2 leverages existing infrastructure and natural elements at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park to create a dynamic business-meets-fresh-air environment. With a vision that centers around wellness — mental, physical, and social — O2 is a retreat for professionals looking for an inspiring change of scenery.
Centrally-located in Rosslyn’s urban core, O2 will provide distinctly separate and easy-to-use spaces to foster a comfortable and connected work atmosphere for employees looking to come back to the neighborhood or residents needing a change from their home office. This free and safe environment is designed to make working outside a breeze, including an easy-to-use reservation system, and trained Rosslyn BID Ambassadors onsite to sanitize workspaces and maintain streamlined operations.
O2’s combination of natural elements and central setting within the neighborhood’s iconic park is sure to inspire productivity and true blue-sky thinking. More details, including cleaning precautions and reservation information, will be available closer to mid-October when O2 will be open to the public for reservations. Renderings of the forthcoming installation can be found here.
“We know that safe outdoor public spaces are key to maintaining mental and physical health and helping people feel connected to where they spend their time,” said Mary-Claire Burick, President of the Rosslyn BID. “O2 is an extension of the wonderful office community we have in Rosslyn and we’re excited to bring it to Arlington.”
This year, the Rosslyn BID has creatively evolved its placemaking efforts to adapt to safe social distancing guidelines by adding new sanitizing wipe stations around the neighborhood, placing all furniture 6-8 feet apart, and transforming underutilized spaces by adding seating and continuing to safely distance people as they enjoy the outdoors. These same procedures will be used throughout O2. The Rosslyn BID Ambassadors, who keep Rosslyn’s streets clean, provide hospitality and neighborhood information, have increased their cleaning protocols for high-touch zones in public areas and surfaces throughout Rosslyn.
The Rosslyn Jazz Festival is coming back with some Grammy-nominated artists headlining the event.
The free festival is planned for Saturday, Sept. 7 from 1-7 p.m. at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway).
This year, the annual festival will feature:
- Cha Wa, a Grammy-nominated New Orleans brass band
- The Suffers, an eight-piece band featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert
- Leyla McCalla, a singer/cellist
- JoGo Project, a D.C.-based go-go/jazz ensemble
The festival will also include food trucks, a pop-up beer and wine garden, and a visit from the Arlington Art Truck, according to its organizer, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.
The focus of this year’s musical selections is art and music from the Gulf Coast, the BID said in a press release.
Attendees are encouraged to take the Metro to the Rosslyn station — a five-minute walk from the park — as parking at the festival will be limited.
Photo via Rosslyn BID
Arlington County is planning to test residents on how they might survive and take care of their families after a natural disaster — using bicycles.
Arlington’s second “Disaster Relief Trials” will simulate traversing the county by bike after a disaster wipes out crucial infrastructure. Participants on bicycles will compete for points by ferrying messages and medicine between checkpoints, filtering water, applying a tourniquet, and evacuating (fake) pets.
This year’s competition will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 and will start and end at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) in Rosslyn.
“2018 was the costliest year on record for the US in terms of disasters,” the event page notes. “When roads became gridlocked or damaged during disasters, people turned to their bicycles to flee from danger, assist in the response, or to return to normal.”
Along the way, cyclists will have to cross high barriers that simulate downed trees over paths, dismount for rough terrain, and brave areas flooded up to 6 inches.
Despite the event helping the county’s emergency preparedness, participation requires paying a fee. Participants can register online for $90 for families until Aug. 11, after which the group price will jump to $125. Individuals can register for $40 until Aug. 11, and $55 after. Discounts are available for those receiving certain types of government assistance.
Participants are required to bring their own bikes, helmets, water bottles, and any racks, panniers, or backpacks they’d like to use. Cargo bikes with electric assists are allowed in the competition.
Disaster Relief Trials have been held for years in Portland and San Francisco.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) It was clear skies for commuters this morning (Friday) celebrating Bike to Work Day.
The annual tradition encourages commuters to ditch their cars and ride their bikes to and from work. In Arlington, 10 pit stops and themed celebrations were sprinkled across the county.
The Bike to Work event at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park filled the park with spandex-clad cyclists mingling and expressing exuberance at the perfect weather. In the tight-knit community of cyclists, there were frequent reunions between riders throughout the park.
“It was a great ride today,” said Henry Dunbar, director of active transportation for Bike Arlington and a coordinator of the event. “This is about as ideal as it gets.”
Dunbar said the event caters to the one-third of riders who are first-time bicycle commuters. Dunbar said the goal is to teach them about bicycle safety and encourage them to make bicycle commuting a daily habit.
For new riders, Dunbar said the best thing to do is find a more experienced rider and tag along with them.
“Ride with experienced cyclists,” Dunbar said. “All the brochures in the world aren’t as good as someone guiding you through that one tricky intersection on your way into work.”
Dunbar nodded over to the N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway intersection — a crossing regularly packed with cyclists, pedestrians and cars. The crowding is exacerbated by construction around the intersection that’s part of the Custis Trail improvements — construction Dunbar said is likely to continue for another full year.
Several bicycling-focused organizations had stands set up in Rosslyn to help encourage a car-free lifestyle. Robert Santana attended on behalf of the Arlington Car-Free Diet campaign and distributed information about the impending Metro closures.
“I was worried we’d be talking mostly to people who were already car-free,” Santana said, “but people have seemed really interested.”
Tents were set up around the park, with businesses like Nando’s Peri-Peri offering free meals or other local organizations offering bicycle-specific services.
“Today has been fantastic,” said Bruce Deming, a “bike lawyer” who specializes in representing injured cyclists. “There’s a huge crowd, just tremendous turnout. I’m proud to be a part of this event.”
(Updated on 05/22/19) Rosslyn’s annual outdoor movie festival is returning to Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) starting next month.
“Every Friday this summer in Gateway Park, bring a blanket or low chairs and a group of friends and enjoy a night under the stars with your favorite movies,” the event’s website says. “Movies start at dusk, but the fun starts at 5 p.m. with games and our Pub in the Park. This event is kid and dog friendly.”
During the events attendees can “enjoy some popcorn from Popped Republic and food from local food trucks.” A spokeswoman told ARLnow that attendees can also get 10 percent off their bill at the nearby Continental Pool Lounge or Beer Garden if they mention they’re at the outdoor festival, and will also be able to order a “special, movie-themed cocktail.”
The film schedule is as follows.
- June 7 — Spider Man: into the Spider-Verse
- June 14 — Paddington
- June 21 — Casablanca
- June 28 — Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
- July 5 — Crazy Rich Asians
- July 12 — Incredibles 2
The June 14 and July 12 movies — Paddington and Incredibles 2 — are “special family nights,” according to the website. If there’s a chance of rain, organizers will announce cancellations by 3 p.m. on the event website.
Photo via Rosslyn BID
Arlingtonians won’t have to go far to sample wines from all across the state this weekend.
The Virginia Wine Festival will hold its 43rd annual gathering in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway), offering up hundreds of wines and ciders from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The event will also feature entertainment and food from a variety of vendors, including an “oyster tent” that showcases offerings from the state’s newly burgeoning oyster industry.
Tickets remain on sale for the event, and will be sold at the entry gate as well, with a glass and unlimited tastings included in the price of admission. The festival will be “largely cashless,” according to its website, and attendees will need to buy tickets to purchase, food and beer.
Organizers say that outside food and drinks won’t be permitted at the event, though they say “blankets, chairs, bags/coolers [and] reasonably sized shade canopies” are all welcome. Pets are also not permitted at the festival, outside of service animals.
County police are also planning on closing a variety of streets in the area each day. They’re warning drivers of the following changes:
- The eastbound lanes of Lee Highway, between Fort Myer Drive and Lynn Street, will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. All eastbound traffic will be diverted onto Fort Myer Drive and detour signs will be posted.
- Southbound Fort Myer Drive (inbound traffic from Georgetown and the George Washington Parkway) will be closed at Lee Highway from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.. All traffic must turn west onto Lee Highway and can access Rosslyn and Clarendon via N. Scott Street or N. Veitch Street.
- N. Nash Street, between eastbound and westbound Lee Highway, will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
- Exit 73 from eastbound I-66 to Rosslyn will be closed from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Police are warning drivers to avoid the area, and note that “no parking” signs will be posted along many local streets.
The event won’t be the only entertainment offering in Rosslyn this weekend. A Halloween-themed “Bats in the Belfry” concert is planned for the Netherlands Carillon (1400 N. Meade Street) on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m.
Photo via the Virginia Wine Festival
Arlington wine lovers can sample wineries from across the state without traveling far from home this fall.
From Oct. 13-14, Gateway Park in Rosslyn will host the 43rd annual Virginia Wine Festival. The event promises to offer over 200 wines plus “dozens” of ciders.
Those in attendance can also enjoy food vendors, live music and an oyster pavilion serving oysters from the Chesapeake region, according to the festival’s website.
Two-day general admission passes are available for $55. General admission grants attendees a tasting glass, unlimited wine tasting and access to concessions and music.
The 2017 festival took place in Alexandria’s Oronoco Bay Park, and was met with criticism from Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism booster, for being “inadequately planned,” leading to “crowding and unacceptably long lines.”
Gateway Park does not lack experience in hosting large events — the sizable Rosslyn Jazz Festival, which drew more than 10,000 attendees last September, has called the venue home for the past 28 years.
Photo via Twitter
Hockey fans will have a chance to catch the Washington Capitals’ first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in two decades outside in Rosslyn.
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District and Arlington County are teaming up to host an outdoor watch party for the Caps’ first game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, fans can gather at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) for the 8 p.m. game. The event will also feature appearances from the “Red Rockers” dance team and the team’s mascot, Slapshot.
The game will be aired on a 40-foot projection screen.
The event is weather permitting. Follow the Capitals Twitter account for weather updates.
Rosslyn’s annual outdoor film festival is returning to Gateway Park this June.
All of the screenings will begin at dusk, but moviegoers can attend events at 5 p.m. each screening evening and buy beer, wine, or sangria at a mobile pub. Local food trucks and popcorn will also be available for purchase.
The events at the park, at 1300 Lee Highway, are both kid and pet friendly. There will be kids activities before the movie begins on June 29, July 13, and August 17.
The festival, sponsored by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, will be screening the following dozen movies over the summer, every Friday from June 8-August 24.
- June 8 – Legally Blonde
- June 15 – Wonder
- June 22 – The Fifth Element
- June 29 – Ratatouille
- July 6 – Bridesmaids
- July 13 – Coco
- July 20 – Amelie
- July 27 – La La Land
- August 3 – Argo
- August 10 – Lethal Weapon
- August 17 – The Lion King
- August 24 – Four Weddings and a Funeral
Events will be cancelled if there is a chance of rain, with a Rosslyn website update by 3 p.m that day.
Photo courtesy of the Rosslyn BID