Family ziplining in a Northern Virginia park

Best Parks in Northern Virginia


An Oasis for Outdoor Adventure

While much of Northern Virginia is composed of bustling cities and businesses, there are miles of green spaces right outside city limits that provide up-close experiences with the great outdoors.

Right outside of metropolitan D.C., unexpected outdoor experiences await. With five expansive state parks in Northern Virginia and miles of hiking trails, nature enthusiasts can get their fill. Thrill-seekers will be awed by the Class VI rapids and advanced rock climbing at Great Falls Park. Amateur outdoorsmen and families will find plenty of fun, relaxing activities like biking, swimming, boating or horseback riding. You don’t have to look far to find the best parks in Northern Virginia.

In a region known for inclusivity, recreation is accessible to all. Loudoun County’s Adaptive Recreation Program, for one, offers individuals of all abilities and skill levels a variety of recreation and leisure activities – from healthy cooking and bowling to bocce and tack.

Get Outside

Great Falls Park in Fairfax County offers plenty of outdoor activities for both adrenaline junkies and people seeking laid-back family fun. From cliff-top overlooks, you can gaze down at kayakers paddling through Class VI rapids.

Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park is a former railroad track that has now become a 45-mile long pathway for cyclists and joggers, while an adjacent gravel trail attracts horseback riders. The unique pathway cuts through several charming areas, including downtown Vienna, where hikers, joggers, and cyclists can stop at the town’s many restaurants, coffee shops, and taverns.

Morven Park is a 1,000-acre estate that includes the 1781 manor house, antique carriages, a Civil War site, the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, and an equestrian center for horseback riding enthusiasts.

The 15,000-acre Prince William Forest Park has 37 miles of hiking and biking trails. Algonkian Regional Park near the Fairfax-Loudoun county line offers expansive green spaces overlooking the Potomac River. Lake Anna State Park is home to 15 miles of trails with hiking, biking, and horseback riding options.

State Parks in Northern Virginia Offer Open Water Adventures

At Lake Anna State Park, visitors can take advantage of fishing, boating, and even swimming at the lake’s beach.

Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County is nestled along the historic Potomac River. Leesylvania offers a universally accessible fishing pier, boat launch, and canoe and kayak rentals. Northern Virginia Sailing School offers lessons here.

Harpers Ferry Adventure Center has plenty of adventurous outdoor activities, from tubing and river rafting to ziplining and ropes courses. At Mason Neck State Park, guests can fish, canoe, kayak, and more. The park’s wetlands, forest, open water, ponds, and open fields make it ideal for environmental study and wildlife observation.

Scenic views are on display at the 1,860-acre Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier County, where visitors can also fish and go horseback riding.

Camping Near Washington D.C.

For traditional campgrounds offering lots to set up tents, visit Leesylvania State Park, Sky Meadows State Park, Burke Lake Park, or Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. Watermelon Park Campground offers both traditional lots for tent camping and larger sites to set up RV campers.

Looking for campgrounds that are a little more comfortable? Try a local park that offers cabin camping, like Pohick Bay Regional Park, Prince William Forest Park, or Bull Run Regional Park.