The Very Best Parks for Exercise in Washington, DC


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The Very Best Parks in Washington DC For Exercise

Your mood rises as the heat of summer ease. Soon, green leaves will turn to fiery fall colors as crisp, cool air invades our fair city. For lovers of autumn, this is the best time of year to get outside. 

Exercising outdoors has many benefits besides an appreciation for the surrounding beauty. Many of our city parks are easy to access, saving you time and money traversing to and from expensive and crowded gyms. 

Many parks feature running trails, hiking and biking paths, benches, water recreation, and even dedicated strength training areas. Some are even venues for bootcamps and yoga

Studies show exercising outdoors improves your mood and reduces depression, perhaps because of Vitamin D production from the sun. Research shows that as little as five minutes walking near greenery and/or water improve self-esteem.

Luckily for you, we have some of the very best parks in Washington DC for exercise mapped out for you.


United States Abortorium  

3501 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 

With 446 acres and over nine miles of roads, the National Arboretum is largely underappreciated and ignored by tourists and locals alike. It’s a giant oasis bursting with trees, flowers, and bushes with no crowds. 

There are many walking trails that meander through bonsai gardens, ponds, and butterfly gardens. Stretch your legs as you observe boxwoods, conifers, azaleas, and every state tree. 

A recent review on TripAdvisor states: “Amazing such a treasure is so close. It was great seeing the nature and beauty of the Arboretum. The bonsais were beautiful. The fern trail is a cool respite from the heat and the herb garden full of ideas for the house. Definitely worth the time to visit.”

Admission and parking are free.  Open every day of the week from 8 am to 5 pm, except Christmas. 

Battery Kimble Park   

Chain Bridge Road, Washington, DC

Nestled in the Palisades, this park has one of the highest elevations in the city. Once home to a strategic encampment of Union soldiers, the facilities are now run by the National Park Service. Today, it hosts rugged running and hiking trails with views of majestic giant pines and grassy, rolling meadows and a creek. 

Most people bring their dogs along for exercise and playtime. Perfect for the whole family!

One reviewer writes: “This is my favorite park to run in.  I love seeing other runners here too.  I went sledding here as a kid.  It’s the absolute best.  So many great memories.  Now, the only way I go over the hill is up!  I start on MacArthur, stay low, run up the hill and run around the side, trying to stick to the top path and hit the road for a little where it’s overgrown… or a little in the middle path if it ends up that way.”

Open year-round from dawn to dusk. 


Rock Creek Park

5200 Glover Rd, Washington, DC

At over 1700 acres, this is one of Washington DC’s most popular parks for hiking, running, walking or just enjoying nature.  The trails are mostly flat and asphalted, so rollerblading and biking is also popular. 

Sports minded folks can enjoy both tennis and golf. For the more adventurous, Rock Creek Park has equestrian trails that wind through pines, oaks and dogwood trees. 

But best of all, the park boasts an exercise course with benches, boxes, bars and more. The exercise course starts on the path right below the Calvert Street exit. The 1.5-mile course has descriptions at each station for suggested exercises. Great for beginners and advanced exercisers alike.

Open every day sunrise to sunset. 

Arlington Calisthenics Park

3402 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA

Arlington calisthenics park is conveniently located in Arlington Heights. You will find an outdoor gym for bodyweight exercises next to the running trail. The outdoor calisthenics gym has pull up bars, high bars of different heights, some incline benches and a few low bars. 

There are always kids around, so this is a great place to bring the family for a calisthenics workout, parkour strength training, street workout, bootcamp workout, outdoor fitness or bodyweight exercises.

Open dawn to dusk. 


Ranger Road Park

9701 Ranger Road, Fairfax, Virginia

Another great family park is Ranger Road Park in northern Fairfax. This relaxing little 18-acre park boasts a playground, basketball courts, and a fitness trail. 

The fitness trail winds through beautiful woods next to a creek. There are several fitness stations making an outdoor workout a snap. There is plenty of shade for warmer days. 

After working out, take the kids over to the playground or basketball courts for some family fun. 

There are plenty of grills and picnic tables, so make an evening out of it with dinner too!

A recent Google user says: “Quiet little park in Northfax. Playground, fitness trail, Accotink Creek flows through it. Nice cool spot for a summer picnic.”

Open dawn to dusk. 


This is the best time of year to head outdoors with friends, family or canine companion to stretch your legs after a long work week. There are a ton of activities this time of year… just get out and do it!  


 If you’re looking for a new home and want to be sure you’ll rent in a great area for runners, check out our blog on the best neighborhoods for runners.    


Lori Mang

Lori Mang


Lori is the staff writer for Eng Garcia & Grant Properties. She enjoys sports, reading, and writing. 

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