Hidden gems no more, these toe-dipping, water shoe stomping spots are perfect on hot days when everyone needs to cool off. No need to pack that pool bag, but you will need some extra dry clothes because these watery wonders are too good not to explore. Scroll on for the best splashing spots in town.

Catoctin Creek Park & Nature Center

Take a leisurely hike down to Pebble Beach, and get ready to do some old fashioned creek stomping. Stop by a shade-drenched picnic table for a quick snack on your way down to the water. When your kiddos are all splashed out, head over to the musical instrument garden and play a few tunes.

2929 Sumantown Rd.
Middletown, MD 21769
Online: recreater.com

Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park

Just try and keep your little ones from climbing the rocks sprawled across this riverfront locale. Or don't, because this wading area is fun for all ages. Don't be put off by the stroll through the golf course. It is worth the walk to enjoy some time in the chilly river water.

44105 Heron Way
Lansdowne, VA 20176
Online: loudoun.gov

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

Step back in time as you step into a flowing stream. Take the Farmstead Loop, the center's signature hiking trail. Just over a mile long, the path is perfect for the whole family. Once a road through a 19th-century farming community, this scenic trail passes by multiple historic structures, Wortman Pond (great for splashing), and Piney Run.

11661 Harpers Ferry Rd.
Purcellville, VA 20132
Online: blueridgecenter.org

C&O Canal Towpath

What is the towpath, exactly? The towpath is the dirt and stone path that runs 184.5 miles along the C&O Canal, where families can walk, run, or bike the distance between Georgetown and Cumberland, MD, but we prefer the stop in Point of Rocks, MD. The Potomac River's view is beautiful, so beautiful that you won't be able to resist a little toe-dipping.

Point of Rocks, MD
Online: nps.gov

photo: Amazon

Terrapin Nature Area

You won't want to miss these spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and some prime splashing on the sandy beaches. This award-winning 276-acre nature park features a 3.25-mile oyster chaff walking trail that meanders through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds and woodlands. Keep an eye out for lots of creatures and critters too.

191 Log Canoe Circle
Stevensville, MD 21666
Online: qac.org

Potomac Heritage Trail

About a mile in, you'll discover an awesome pool and little waterfall perfect for some afternoon water fun. Enjoy a few creek crossings along the way too. This is a great option when you don't want to travel too far out of the city.

The Mouth of Pimmit Run & Pimmit Run
and Chain Bridge Historical Makers
McLean, VA
Online: nps.gov

Worth the Drive: Cool Spring Preserve

Consider crossing state lines for this one because it is worth the extra miles. The crystal clear creek isn't the main attraction here. Your little ones will be all about the natural playspace before the splashing begins. Head to the stream to cool off after some tree stump and spider web rope climbing.

1469 Lloyd Rd
Charles Town, WV 25414
Online: potomacaudubon.org

Angelica Kajiwara


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