The George Washington Memorial Parkway, locally known as the GW Parkway, runs along the Potomac River providing a gateway to the nation’s capital. The scenic road connects Washington DC attractions and historic sites stretching from Great Falls Park to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. Developed as a memorial to America’s first president, the George Washington Memorial Parkway encompasses a variety of park sites offering a wide range of recreational activities.
Here is a guide to help you get to know these interesting sites. (Arranged geographically from north to south)
Washington DC Attractions Along the GW Parkway
Great Falls Park - The 800-acre park, located along the Potomac River, is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Visitors marvel over the beauty of the 20-foot waterfalls while hiking, picnicking, kayaking, rock climbing, bicycling, and horseback riding.
Turkey Run Park - The 700-acre park, located just off of the George Washington Memorial Parkway south of I-495, has hiking trails and picnic areas.
Clara Barton National Historic Site - The historic home served as the headquarters and warehouse for the American Red Cross where Clara Barton coordinated relief efforts for victims of natural disasters and war from 1897-1904.
Glen Echo Park - The National Park offers year-round activities in dance, theater, and the arts for the adults and children.
The parkland and historic buildings provide a unique venue for concerts, demonstrations, workshops, and festivals.
Claude Moore Colonial Farm - The 18th-century living history farm features 357 acres of trails, wetlands, meadows, and forests. Visitors enjoy self-guided tours, picnicking, hiking, fishing, biking, softball, baseball, and football.
Fort Marcy - This Civil War site is located approximately 1/2 mile south of the Potomac River on the south side of Chain Bridge Road.
Theodore Roosevelt Island - The 91-acre wilderness preserve serves as a memorial honoring Roosevelt's contributions to the conservation of public lands for forests, national parks, wildlife and bird refuges. The island has 2 1/2 miles of foot trails where you can observe a variety of flora and fauna and a 17-foot bronze statue of Roosevelt in the center of the island.
Potomac Heritage Trail - The hiking trail parallels the George Washington Memorial Parkway extending from Theodore Roosevelt Island north to the American Legion Bridge.
U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial - Also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. The 32-foot-high sculpture honors the Marines who have died defending the United States since 1775.
Netherlands Carillon - The bell tower that was given to America as an expression of gratitude from the Dutch people for aid provided during and after World War II. The carillon plays recorded music that is programmed to play automatically by computer. Free concerts are held during the summer months.
Arlington National Cemetery - More than 250,000 American servicemen as well as many famous Americans are buried at the 612-acre national cemetery.
Among the notable Americans buried here are Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Robert Kennedy.
Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial - The former home of Robert E. Lee and his family is located atop a hill on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, providing one of the best views of Washington, DC. It is preserved as a memorial to Robert E. Lee, who helped heal the nation following the Civil War.
Women in Military Service For America Memorial - The Gateway to Arlington National Cemetery is a memorial to women who have served in the U. S. military. The Arlington National Cemetery Visitors Center is located here.
Lady Bird Johnson Park and Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove - A memorial to Lyndon Johnson is set in a grove of trees and 15 acres of gardens along the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
The memorial is a part of the Lady Bird Johnson Park, a tribute to the former first lady's role in beautifying the country's and Washington, DC's landscape.
Columbia Island Marina - The marina is located in the Pentagon lagoon, just one and a half miles north of National Airport.
Gravelly Point - The park is located north of National Airport, along the George Washington Parkway on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. This is the starting point for DC Duck tours.
Roaches Run Wildlife Sanctuary - This spot is popular for observing osprey, green heron, red-winged blackbird, mallard and other waterfowl.
Daingerfield Island - The island is home to Washington Sailing Marina, the city’s premier sailing facility offering sailing lessons, boat and bike rentals.
Belle Haven Park - The Picnic area sits along the Mount Vernon Trail, a popular walking and bike trail.
Belle Haven Marina - The marina is home to Mariner Sailing School which offers sailing lessons and boat rentals.
Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve - The 485-acre preserve is one of the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetlands in the region. Visitors can hike the trails and see a diverse array of plants and animals.
Collingwood Park - Located about 1.5 miles north from the River Farm Road Turnout, the park has a small beach that is used to launch kayaks and canoes.
Fort Hunt Park - Located along the Potomac River in Fairfax County, VA, the busy picnic area requires reservations April through October. Free summer concerts are held here on Sunday evenings.
Riverside Park - The park, nestled between the GW Parkway and the Potomac River, offers vistas overlooking the river and views of osprey and other waterfowl.
Mount Vernon Estate - The estate is located along the shores of the Potomac River and is the most scenic tourist attraction in the Washington, DC area. Visit the mansion, the outbuildings, the gardens and the new museum and learn about the life of America's first president and his family.
Mount Vernon Trail - The trail parallels the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Potomac River from Mount Vernon to Theodore Roosevelt Island. You can ride a bike, jog, or walk the 18.5-mile trail and stop and visit many attractions along the way.