If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that is fun, active AND educational, look no further than Potomac Overlook Park. There is no part of the park where they haven’t tucked something visually interesting, educational, or physically challenging. The hiking trail is appropriate for steady, mobile children. For toddlers and babies you will need a pack, as there are several stream crossings and steep areas that are not suitable for any kind of stroller.
Pack a picnic lunch and plan to stay a while. You and your kids can explore and learn about gardening, solar power, local history, and more. The “potomac overlook” is officially listed as closed because tree growth on federal lands blocks the view that used to go all the way to Georgetown, but the trail is safe and passable for those who would like an easier hike than some of the park’s other trails. If you hike down to the water, you’ll see the remnants of historic swimming holes. A helpful and chatty fan I met on the trail told me that the original swimming hole, which is the farthest downstream, was quite the destination for picnickers until it was destroyed by a tree that fell in the late 19th century. The newer hole, which was further upstream and built of concrete, also suffered storm damage and was never rebuilt. (Probably because we have public pools now, so stream swimming isn’t as popular.) Keep hiking and you’ll find some steps that head down toward the river, or turn off to head back to the nature center. There are signs along the trail that will tell you how the spot you were standing on has changed through the area’s history.
If you and your kids are feeling only a little less adventurous, there is a very nice playground right near the ample parking area. The playground is enclosed and shady with a mulch surface. There are restrooms at the adjacent picnic area or in the nature center.
Potomac Overlook Park 2845 N Marcey Rd, Arlington, VA 22207 (Parking is free!)