On this side of the Potomac are many notable sights: the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, and the CIA Headquarters. Yet the region’s best-kept secret is passed by every day? The local aquatic wildlife. Whether you are a visitor compiling a travel itinerary, returning to the area to see family and friends, or a local looking for something to do close to home, all will delight in the beauty of the capital region’s parks and streams. Read on for some of our favorite aquatic life experiences around Arlington and Alexandria.
Glen Echo Park Aquarium
Just outside the capital borders in neighboring Glen Echo is Glen Echo Park Aquarium, a center of learning and exploration for the aquatic wildlife of the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay, and the Capital Region. Here, visitors of all ages and interests can engage their curiosities in a series of interactive exhibits, and meet locals such as the Chesapeake blue crab, the horseshoe crab, mummichog, channel catfish, yellow-bellied slider, American eel, and oyster toadfish. Aside from this, there are also opportunities to interact with the animals in touch pools and learn about the variety of activities from fishing to microscopic life with hands-on exhibits.
Great Falls Park
Just up the Potomac is one of the most beautiful sights in the region, the Great Falls, a series of turbulent rapids and waterfalls as one of the most dynamic and exhilarating habitats to a number of local species. Opportunities to observe the wildlife of the capital region in their natural state are endless, with whitetail deer, eastern chipmunks, red foxes, beavers, opossums, eastern box turtles, and skinks in abundance. In addition to this, birdwatchers will also delight in the hundreds of species that frequent the park, as part of their migrations or as a breeding ground. There are also plenty of more intense activities for visitors who want to immerse themselves in the park, such as rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing. There is also a number of hiking trails and camping spots, accommodating a number of plans.
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
A great chance to see the wildlife of the capital region in its natural state is at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, a lush, verdant corner just outside of the city boundaries. Here, numerous species of turtles, skinks, aquatic insects, and reptiles live among vast fields of lily pads and lotuses. Given the variety of fauna, the park is worth a visit any time of the year, with the drastically changing scenery and different events that occur. Birdwatchers will also delight in the more than 236 bird species that live and regularly migrate through the Kenilworth area, an established pastime, and tradition for residents of this neighborhood. With its diversity, beauty, and serenity, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens provide an escape into the capital region of an older time and allows visitors to explore nature and step away if for a moment.
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