Let’s face it. When you venture into DC with your kids, you need to bring snacks and have a plan of attack for lunch. I think life revolves around lunch/snack time for my toddler.
Since she’s also going through a picky phase, I’ve found french fries and chips are about all my daughter will eat if we go out. Hence the picnic. I know what she’ll eat, and she knows what to expect.
Few mom-guilts are worse than loading your kid up with fried food.
It’s a good thing DC is lovely, and loaded with great picnic spots just outside around the corner from our favorite museums and other outings. Here are a few places I’ve found that are the perfect picnic spots in DC.
Our Favorite Picnic Spots
1. Netherlands Carillon/US Marine Corps Memorial– When I was working (pre-kid), this was one of my regular places to get out of the office and eat lunch. Today, I love taking my daughter and planting it for a few minutes with the great view of the monuments and Capitol.
- Address: 1400 N. Meade Street, Arlington, VA
- Getting There: Take the Blue or Orange Line train to Rosslyn, and take Lee Street or Fort Myer Drive toward Arlington National Cemetery. Limited street parking is available
- Didn’t pack a picnic? Try Piola, Chop’t or Chipotle in nearby Rosslyn.
2. Hains Point (East Potomac Park)– Often I forget about this place until the Cherry Blossom Festival rolls around, but it’s a great park all year round. Hains point is at the southern end of East Potomac Park.There is a playground, picnic tables, shade and walking paths along the Potomac. We often sit and watch the rowing crews in the afternoon when there.
- Address: Ohio Drive, SW, DC
- Getting There: The nearest metro is Smithsonian. Limited street parking is available. During the summer months, cars are not allowed to enter the park loop in the afternoon. So walking can be necessary!
- Didn’t pack a picnic and just want to pick one up? Plan your visit to coincide with Truckeroo at Half & M Street, SE. While not super close (nothing’s really close to Hains Point, unfortunately), it’s worth it for the food! Food is also available at the Golf Course in East Potomac Park.
3. Book Hill Park– Appropriately named, this park sits behind the Georgetown Public Library. It’s up on a hill, and has a great view of the city as well as of Arlington. We’ve stopped after hitting up story time and before heading down the hill to get a cupcake.
- Address: 3260 R Street, NW, DC
- Getting there: Dupont Circle and Rosslyn Metro Stations are closest– and both more than a mile from the library. Parking is available behind the library.
- Didn’t pack a picnic? Try stopping at one of the markets like Dean & DeLuca to get the fixings for a sandwich and salad. A farmer’s market is also held at 26th & O Streets on Wednesday afternoons.
4. Fort Ward Park– Perhaps my favorite park in Alexandria, this little haven offers a paved walking path, benches, picnic area and a playground. You can also explore the earthworks of the fort and the little museum.
- Address: 4301 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA
- Getting there: I wouldn’t recommend taking metro without taking the AT5 DASH bus. Free parking is available.
- Didn’t pack a picnic? Stop in Shirlington and grab something to go.
5. Fort Washington Park– Just across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, this fort is awesome! There are so many things to explore and room to roam. While there is a $3 entrance fee for cars/pedestrians, I think it’s worth it.
- Address: Fort Washington, MD
- Getting there: From I-95/495 take exit 3, Indian Head Higway South/MD 210. Travel about 4 miles to Fort Washington Road, turn right. The park is located at the end of the road.
- Didn’t pack a picnic? Pick up some hot dogs and buns on the way in. Small groups can use tables and grills throughout the park on a first-come first-served basis. Reservations are available for larger parties.
DC Fun Beyond Picnic Spots
- Check out the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum by Dulles
- Catch a baseball game- Major & Minor leagues in DC Area
- Take a Capitol Tour at the Capitol Visitor Center
- Head over to Theodore Roosevelt Island for a nature walk in the shade