This year has been a lot; juggling stay-at-home orders, tackling virtual learning, cancelling vacation plans and holidays, and missing out on much needed friend & family connections. It’s been enough to throw even the most centered person off step. We rounded up some of our favorite ways to refocus and regroup so you and your kiddos can get ready to enjoy a zen-filled holiday season. Read on for where to find some serious ommmmm in Washington, DC.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
This 91-acre island serves as a memorial to President Roosevelt, honoring his contributions to conservation of nature. You’ll have plenty of company when you cross the pedestrian bridge over to this nature preserve, but once on the other side, the crowds melt away. Head to your immediate left and let your little clamor over fallen limbs and scale mini boulders as you scout out the perfect hidden path to head towards the water. There are plenty of opportunities to get to the beach and once you do, you’ll barely see a soul. For more off-the-beaten paths, go here.
George Washington Memorial Pkwy
Northbound lanes between Roosevelt Bridge and Key Bridge
photo: Daderot via Wikipedia
A Quiet Garden
Heyden Memorial Garden
Get away from it all right here in the city! Right next to the Yates Field House you’ll find this hidden gem on the Georgetown University grounds considered a best-kept secret by many locals. Finding the garden is half the fun! It’s located on the east and north sides of the Heyden Observatory. You’ll find small ponds and water features, an arch to run under and views of the Potomac River. The peaceful silence is occasionally interrupted by overhead airplanes; small children will delight in seeing their low-flying path. Find more gardens worth exploring here.
West Rd. NE
Washington, DC 20057
photo: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr
Connect with nature through the gentle practice of forest bathing (not sure what that is, find out more here). With leaf colors peaking right now, it is the perfect time to take the quick 80 minute trip out to Skyline drive. This 105-mile drive runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is the only public road through the park. It takes about three hours to travel the whole thing, and it’s accessible at four points. “Deer, black bear, wild turkey, and a host of other woodland animals call Shenandoah home and regularly cross Skyline Drive in their daily travels,” according to the National Park Service. For more 19 more leaf peeping drives, go here.
17065 Skyline Dr.
Front Royal, VA
A Meditative Walk
Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
Tucked behind The Golf Club at Lansdowne is one of NOVA’s best kept secrets, Elizabeth Mills Regional Park. These flat, easy paths are perfect for young hikers and smooth enough to push a wheelchair through. The trail mostly follows the Potomac River, providing stunning views for most of the walk. There is also a narrow path on the water’s edge. There is a large, open field immediately before the trails; it’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a game of catch. For more hikes perfect for little legs, go here.
43513 Squirrel Ridge Pl.
photo: Dani N. via Yelp
A Peaceful Sunset
Top of the Gate
Head to the top of the Watergate Hotel and let city worries slip away. This restaurant and bar offers one of the best views in the city. Watch the boats glide down the Potomac River and the lights begin to shine in Georgetown as you sip mocktails by the fire pits. Be sure to check out this hot spot in the winter when they feature a kid-friendly roof top ice rink. For 10 more places to watch the sun go down, go here.
2650 Virginia Ave. NW
photo: Stan P. via Yelp
Calvert Cliffs State Park
Watch crashing waves, hunt for driftwood and fossils and just enjoy the sand between your toes. Off-season is the perfect time to enjoy uncrowded beaches. Less than an hour and a half from DC, Calvert Cliffs has 24 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay. The cliffs that dominate the landscape were formed 20 – 30 million years ago, and fossil hunting is another popular activity throughout the park. Prehistoric sea creatures, shark and whale fossils have all been found in the cliffs. For more tourist-free beach destinations, go here.
10540 H. G. Trueman Rd.
photo: Toddlin’ Across America
Harpers Ferry, WV
If you find driving therapeutic, pack up the kids and head west. This quaint town in West Virginia has beautiful paths that wind through the National Park. Your family can stand where Thomas Jefferson stood when he said it was a view worth crossing the Atlantic Ocean for. Be sure to stop by the Visitors Center so your kiddos can pick up the Jr. Ranger packet. They’ll get the most adorable badge from a park ranger. Don’t forget to hop on the shuttle on your way into Lower Town. It is stroller-friendly and the only stop with easy parking. For more road trip inspo, go here.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
171 Shoreline Dr.
Harpers Ferry, WV
What would this story be without a mention of the most obvious way to say Om?! Plug in to this DC yoga studio for Zoom classes this fall that will help you breathe deep and relax. With computer in hand, you can take your yoga practice anywhere, including all of the peaceful spots listed above. Family memberships let you choose the combination of workshops that work best for you, your kids and teens. Or explore the library of pre-recorded videos.
3838 Northhampton St. NW
—Meghan Yudes Meyers, Angelica Kajiwara and Chris McGurn
featured photo: Toddlin’ Across America