The arrival of fall in the Washington D.C. area brings cooler weather, colorful foliage, and lots of outdoor fun. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is an additional factor that goes into finding the right activity. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far to soak up the pleasant temperatures.
Many attractions around D.C. have instituted social distancing policies for a safer experience for guests. From limiting crowds to closing indoor facilities, you’ll notice the valiant efforts to ensure guests feel safe while visiting. The only thing left to decide is the activity that best suits you and your loved ones.
If you’re unsure where to begin your search, we’ve taken the time to gather a few places that will help you practice social distancing and still provide a memorable visit. Below, check out our recommendations for the best social distancing activities near D.C. this fall.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121
Driving Time from D.C. = 30 mins
George Washington’s former estate is the ideal place to combine a history lesson and social distancing. The staff has revamped their safety protocols in the wake of COVID-19. You shouldn’t have difficulty keeping your space on the extensive property, but masks are mandatory on the rare occasions social distancing isn’t possible. You’ll have to wear a mask if you plan on visiting the indoor facilities like the mansion and museums.
Washington managed every aspect of shaping the English-style gardens, and there are four distinct areas to view the 18th-century creation. Verdant forests surround the property, and the Forest Trail leads you to the Pioneer Farm. You’ll learn about Washington’s innovative farming techniques, visit a replica slave cabin, and can admire the views of the Potomac River. As you roam the grounds, watch out for animals such as sheep, cattle, horses, chickens, and mules.
Only the 1st floor of the mansion is open, but the grounds give you plenty of room to maintain your personal space. For enhanced visitor protection, there are hand sanitizer stations, extra cleaning efforts in high touch areas, and signage reminders to keep a minimum of 6 feet away from those outside your party. Recent visitors report mansion tours being restricted to small groups and having a pleasant experience.
3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Driving Time from D.C. = 10-15 mins
For animal lovers, you don’t even have to leave Washington D.C. city limits to see your favorite creatures. The Smithsonian National Zoological Park has instituted structured changes to accommodate visitors during the pandemic. To maintain social distancing, the Zoo now limits the number of daily visitors. You must reserve either a timed entry pass or paid parking pass online before your visit. Only 5,000 guests will be admitted each day using a timed entry process.
You’ll find signage reminding visitors to keep their space, some outdoor paths flow one-way, and some indoor facilities are closed. The park staff now practices enhanced cleaning procedures for high-touch areas, offers hand sanitizing stations, and requires anyone 6 years or older to wear a facial covering. Recent reviews have indicated the new protocol is working to limit crowds, and the staff helped guests maintain social distance.
The limited crowds give you more opportunities to check out the majestic animals residing in the Zoo. From the gorillas and orangutans to the beloved panda exhibit and fascinating reptiles, you can watch all the park’s species while keeping your distance from humans.
2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
Driving Time from D.C. = 10-15 mins
How about a relaxing place to drink without giving up social distancing? Located at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Victura Park offers an easygoing atmosphere along the banks of the Potomac River. The riverside pavilion includes picnic tables, shade umbrellas, and keeps clientele a safe distance from each other.
Whether you’re craving a beer, wine, or just a light snack, you can unwind by the peaceful waterway and feel the crisp fall air. With its family-friendly environment, you can bring the kids and surprise them with delicious meals from talented chefs.
The Victura Park staff make customer safety a top priority and require everyone to maintain social distance. Visitors must wear masks when not seated, and the number of people allowed inside the Pavilion and restrooms is limited. They’ve also started a cashless payment system, and a safety manager surveys customers to ensure all guests follow safety protocols.
A quick look at Victura Park’s Facebook page shows that the new venture has made a great first impression with D.C. residents. The pop-up wine and beer garden is quickly becoming a go-to for socially distanced drinks with friends and family.
22201 Zion Rd, Brookeville, MD 20833
Driving Time from D.C. = 1 hr
A trip to the Rachel Carson Conservation Park gives nature enthusiasts 650 acres to find peace and solitude. Dedicated to environmental activist Rachel Carson, the park preserves this slice of natural beauty inside Montgomery County. There are six miles of hiking trails to explore the park’s diverse ecosystem. Wandering the preserved woodlands reveals peaceful streams, rocky outcrops, meadows, stunning foliage, and more.
The paths are easy to navigate, but the terrain can get muddy if there’s rain in the area. Considering the park’s gorgeous scenery, it’s a surprise that it doesn’t receive more visitors. That’s what makes this hidden gem a fantastic place to explore Mother Nature without dealing with crowds. Just make sure to read the Montgomery County Parks COVID-19 guidelines. They list reminders to stay 6 feet apart from others, wash your hands before and after your visit, and to bring wipes or hand sanitizer.
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