I Know a Spot: Three DMV Parks for Adventurous Dates
May 11, 2023 @ 2:31pm
Here are three great spots near D.C. to go on a hike or an adventure with your date.
As the weather warms and the promise of summer draws near, many of us are itching to get outside. The new season also marks the return of some of our favorite outdoor date activities. Whether you’re looking to spend quiet quality time in a picturesque setting or seeking the next adventure to embark on, the DMV offers ample opportunities for you and your significant other to create lasting memories while enjoying the outdoors. We’ve gathered three great destinations that offer something special for every couple to enjoy.
Great Falls Park
If you and your significant other are looking for a mini escape from city life, Great Falls Park is located just 15 miles from D.C. The 800-acre site lies along the banks of the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, making for a destination that is equal parts daring and scenic. Hikers have more than 15 miles of trails to choose from, like the historic Patowmack Canal Trail or the more challenging River Trail. The park’s cliffs and jagged landscape make for some solid climbing areas as well. Couples hoping to spend some time on the water can rent single or double kayaks and paddle along the Potomac Gorge.
For something a bit more relaxed, consider visiting the park for a romantic picnic. Tables and grills span across a wide area from the visitor center to one of the falls overlook zones. Three main overlook areas give visitors a chance to take in the park’s views from different vantage points. Just be sure to stay well behind any protective fencing or barriers so you can enjoy them as safely as possible.
Sightseeing also gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some of the park’s diverse wildlife, so be sure to bring your cameras and binoculars. You’ll likely catch a glimpse of some of the 150-plus species of birds present in the area. These include ducks, herons, songbirds, kingfishers and bald eagles.
9200 Old Dominion Dr. McLean, VA; nps.gov/grfa
Rock Creek Park
For those who prefer to stay in the city, Rock Creek Park offers some of the same amenities as Great Falls, like picnic areas and hiking and biking trails. For couples looking to bond with animals, the Rock Creek Park Horse Center offers riding lessons and guided trail rides. Thirteen miles of dirt and gravel bridle paths crisscross the park for riders to use.
The “Oasis in the City” is also a great option for sports lovers. There are several open-play tennis courts along Montrose Park and Francis Field. Those looking to master their golf swings can enjoy three courses, all of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places due to their significant role in the city’s Civil Rights movement and racial integration efforts.
Mary Huggins, a regular hiker at Rock Creek, says she enjoys the park’s urban setting because it adds variety to the surrounding area and activities.
“You can get on the metro and get off near the zoo area, so that’s a nice choice,” she says. “It’s more accessible so you don’t need to drive.”
She adds that accessibility might also help make it a safer venue for couples going on first dates or who are still getting to know each other.
“It’s more open and visible, there are more people and there is more transportation that goes through, so it’s a little bit less out of the way,” she says.
5200 Glover Rd. NW, DC; nps.gov/rocr
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
Known as “Maryland’s Biggest Climbing and Ziplining Adventure,” The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is a great spot for thrill-seeking couples looking to up the ante on their next date. The park’s “aerial forest” includes about 15 separate climbing courses of varying levels of difficulty. Though each course includes zip lines, they primarily consist of bridges between tree platforms made of rope, cable and wood configurations.
Matt Hines, the park’s director of business development, says the park’s evening activities are popular choices for visitors on one-on-one and group dates. These include a night climbing experience where courses are illuminated by string lights, and an outdoor axe throwing venue, which provides a more intimate option for park visitors.
“It lends itself to closer social engagement, whereas on the ropes course, people spread out onto the course to whatever level speaks to their comfort in terms of height and difficulty,” Hines says.
Overcoming the challenge of an obstacle course can help bring couples closer together and develop important teamwork skills. Hines says this type of experience can work for any relationship dynamic, even those in the early dating stages.
“At dinner or a movie, you might not be talking. You don’t really get a good idea of how someone handles adversity, challenges or communicates,” he says. “When you’re 10 feet in the air, 75 feet in the air or anywhere in between, it just cuts through some of the noise, and you get to know someone a little bit better.”
16701 Norwood Rd. Sandy Spring, MD; sandyspringadventurepark.org // @adventureparklife
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