Rock Creek Park
Located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington DC, Rock Creek Park is administered by the National Park Service. In addition to the pretty scenery along the eponymous Rock Creek, the park also borders the Smithsonian National Zoo and comprises equestrian facilities, the Carter Barron Amphitheatre (site of regular outdoor performances), tennis and golf centers, and other historical and educational options.
Rock Creek Park can be visited on a private tour of DC; given its size and proximity to several major DC landmarks, you can also plan a visit as part of a sightseeing day out in the capital.
Things to know before you go
- All of Rock Creek Park is free to enter, including its planetarium, the Peirce Mill, and even the Smithsonian National Zoo.
- Rock Creek Park offers two boating facilities, where you can rent rowboats, paddleboards, and other equipment.
- Pets are welcome in the park, but must be kept on leashes at all times.
- Many of the landmarks within Rock Creek Park are accessible, and the Edge of the Woods Trail is suitable for wheelchair users.
How to get there
Given its size and the fact that it stretches through multiple neighborhoods, there are numerous ways to access Rock Creek Park. It can be reached via multiple Metrorail stations, including Friendship Heights, Fort Totten, Van Ness, and Foggy Bottom. It can also be reached by bus (including the E-4), as well as on foot, by taxi, or by Capital Bikeshare. Ample parking is available at the nature center.
When to get there
Rock Creek Park is open all year round, from dawn to dusk, and is beautiful whether dappled with sunlight or covered in a fresh dusting of snow. The hours of its various facilities and historical landmarks can vary, however, so it’s advised to research specifics in advance.
Sightseeing Highlights in the Park
Beyond its pretty trails, Rock Creek Park offers a number of family-friendly sightseeing destinations. Head to the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium to encounter local species and see celestial shows; explore Fort Stevens, which was used during the Civil War; and visit Peirce Mill, built in 1829. The park also borders the Smithsonian National Zoo, one of the city’s most popular destinations.
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