Pools won’t be opening, and the Zoo and Arboretum are still closed. But there are plenty of places to get outdoors with toddlers and little kids, still keep your distance, and pick up summer vibes. My 2-year-old has had a blast “going on adventures” at sites all over Washington that we might never have sought out otherwise, from Woodend Sanctuary in Silver Spring (balance-beam heaven, with all its felled trees) to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian (with its otters, turtles, beavers, and birds galore). Here are 5 more places we’re adding to our list:
If, like me, the National Arboretum has always been your only go-to during azalea season, schedule an outing to see these five acres of flowers in Montgomery County. Blooms will be gone soon, but the waterside setting and dam might still be a draw for you. Facilities are closed. No bathrooms! No picnicking! No playgrounds! 7 AM – sunset; 2 Brighton Dam Road, Brookeville.
This Montgomery County park has been open for the duration, but like most parks, all facilities are closed (so no bathrooms, no playgrounds). Entrance is limited; there are two parking lots open, with 160 spots total. I’m told peak times are from 11 AM to 2 PM and again in the evenings after dinner. **The park’s popular annual butterfly exhibit is TBD at this point; we will update when we know more.** Meantime, cool spots for little ones are “Turtle Log” in the upper aquatic garden area (look for the bridge), and Gude Garden, where you can spot more turtles (and tadpoles and fish) from the Japanese tea house. There’s more critter viewing next door, at the Brookside Nature Center, which has a pond and a boardwalk that’s stroller-accessible. Sunrise to sunset; 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton.
This beloved Fairfax County Park is back open, and yes, you can see the animals. While the barns are closed to the public (along with facilities and bathrooms), the grazing areas are free for the roaming. Chickens, pigs, lots of goats, and cows are all in residence, along with a pair of horses. Dawn to dusk; 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon.
We love love love this quiet National Park site in Accokeek. The farm feels a world away from DC, perched alongside the Potomac. There’s a beautiful shaded path to walk to the animal grazing areas, if you don’t want to walk the sunny river trail. Pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens, and cows all hang out outside (barns are closed). Get there early and you may be able to watch fishermen down on the dock. Either way, do head down to the water for a straight-shot view of Mount Vernon across the river. 3400 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek* [Address has been corrected].
Boat rentals are now back open at Little Seneca Lake, and operating at 36 percent capacity to cut down on crowds. Call for the exact availability but typically you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and rowboats. There are special rules to follow: Masks are required when interacting with staff, only people from the same household can go out together, and you need to bring your own lifejackets. Note: Weekends only, from 11 AM to 4PM until mid-June. Consult this page for the most up-to-date info. 20920 Lake Ridge Drive, Boyds.