Top National Parks In & Near Washington, DC

The many US National Parks in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland offer a wealth of activites and adventure — from exploring historical sites and interpretive tours to hiking mountain ranges and scenic trails.

Discover the vast and varied outdoor treasures that make up the wonderful world of US National Parks in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. 

National Parks in Washington, DC

National parks in Washington, DC are some of the most recognizable in the country: the solitary obelisk of the Washington Monument, the neoclassical structures of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and the sombre spaces of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial, all located around the National Mall. In 2020, the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial also joined the gallery.

Nature lovers will enjoy the 1,754-acre Rock Creek Park, with shady biking, walking and running paths that provide a tranquil oasis within the nation’s bustling capital.

National Parks in Maryland

Maryland's national parks run the spectrum from Civil War battlefields to island seashores. Go hiking or camping amid the rolling landscape of Catoctin Mountain Park, or visit the windswept beaches of Assateague Island National Seashore, which spans both Maryland and Virginia and is one of the few places in the country where herds of wild ponies roam free.

A favourite destination for families is Glen Echo Park, located near the border of Maryland and Washington, DC and one of many sites along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. At Glen Echo, puppet shows, theatrical performances and an old-world carousel cater to young children, while dance events in the historic Spanish Ballroom are ideal for active adults.

At Fort McHenry, history lovers can witness the backdrop for the Battle of Baltimore, a pivotal moment during the War of 1812. The successful defence of the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," which later became the country’s national anthem.

National Parks in Virginia

The Capital Region’s preferred destination for hiking is — without a doubt — Shenandoah National Park. Containing approximately 300 square miles (777 sq km) of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah features over 500 miles (805 km) of trails, including a 101-mile (163-km) stretch of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia. Visitors can also take in the park’s spectacular beauty and wildlife by car: The famous Skyline Drive traces the length of the park and provides gorgeous views from myriad overlooks.

Just across the Potomac from Washington, DC, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of some of America's greatest heroes, including more than 300,000 veterans.

Want more? Explore some of the best road trips in the USA with these destinations and attractions. Or, take a deeper dive into the top US National Parks in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia

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