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Browse Fairfax County's many outdoor activities, from hiking and biking trails to zip lining and quiet park areas. Plus, camping, boating, fishing and more!
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great outdoors itinerary header - great falls

Great Outdoors Getaway

If you're looking to get away for a quick day trip or overnight stay and get outside to take in the wonders of Mother Nature, then Fairfax County is a wonderful option for you.  With thousands of acres of parkland, fun trails and outdoor activities, and plenty of big city amenities to take advantage of when your adventure is over, you're invited to make us your next stop for outdoor fun.

  • Unique, quirky, off the beaten path - no matter what you call it, these Fairfax County attractions are one-of-a-kind sights that'll leave you with stories to call home about. Getaway to these unconventional local spots for a brand new experience. 

    Boardwalk and Wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park 

    Huntley Meadows

    Huntley Meadows Park is your connection to treasured animal habitats and boundless wetlands bustling with all kinds of wildlife. Some of the best bird-watching in the Washington metropolitan area takes place on this very boardwalk, with various species of waterfowl soaking up the sun and splashing in the marsh. Plus, the sunsets are spectacular. 

    Matildaville at Great Falls Park 

    The stone ruins of Matildaville was once a lively town, boasting a market, gristmill, inn, workers' barracks, homes, and more. In the age of the Revolutionary War, Harry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) named the town for his first wife, Matilda Lee. The town of Matildaville served as the home of the Patowmack Company which formerly worked on the construction of the Patowmack Canal project - an ambitious plan to reroute the Potomac River that unfortunately ended in the company's bankruptcy.  

    Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

    Korean Bell Garden

    Fairfax County is home to the only public, traditional Korean Bell Garden pavilion in the Western Hemisphere at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Explore 95 acres of ornamental and native plant gardens, take in views of the Piedmont Hills, and learn about different local flora and fauna at this beloved garden. 

    Trails of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

    Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is a majestic natural setting for several performances across all genres every summer. Although the performing venues are closed, you can experience the hiking trails autonomously or at the educational guided hikes on the first Sunday of every month.  Select walks will focus on different topics: history, biodiversity, wild flower and woodland shade gardens, birds, and general flora and fauna. 

    Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge

    Mason Neck

    Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge was the first refuge established with the purpose of protecting America's symbol - the bald eagle. Sitting along the banks of the Potomac River, the refuge conserves wildlife which are listed as endangered or threatened. It hosts hundreds of bird and plant species, as well as mammals and amphibians, among Great Marsh. Will you spot a bald eagle? 

  • Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life at a cozy, rustic Fairfax County cabin. Enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, biking, and other activities for the perfect, socially-distant outdoor getaway. 

    Pohick Bay Regional Park

    Poohick bay Camping Cabin

    Snag a cabin at Pohick Bay for an off-the-grid and historic outdoor getaway. This water-oriented park 25 is miles south of the nation's capital. It occupies a spectacular bayside setting on the historic Mason Neck peninsula in Fairfax County. In early times, George Washington visited the area frequently. Today, the park features an 18-hole golf course, camping, kayak rentals, hiking trails, and more.

    Bull Run Regional Park 

    Bull Run cabin

    A cabin stay in Bull Run's scenic, 1500-acre woodland offers miles of hiking and solitude. In springtime, acres of bluebells and other wildflowers bloom beside a picturesque, meandering stream. It also features an entrance to the historic Occoquan Trail, NOVA Park's longest natural surface trail at 19.7 miles long. 

     

  • The camping experience is an age-old outdoor getaway that connects to you to nature in an unforgettable way. From gazing at a sky full of bright start to gathering around a fire for fresh and gooey smores, there's something about a forest escape that makes a vacation special. Here's where to go in Fairfax County for an unforgettable camping trip. 

    Lake Fairfax Park 

    Lake Fairfax Park, by Julie McCool

    Lake Fairfax Park's 476 acres include seasonal fishing, campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, a carousel, an 18-acre lake, and more. It features over 100 campsites, a bathhouse, showers, toilets, public phones, tables, grills, and other amenities. 

    Pohick Bay Regional Park

    Kayaking at Pohick Bay Regional Park

    Pohick Bay is a water oriented park located on the Potomac River 25 miles south of the nation's capital.Located on the Mason Neck Peninsula, this park hosts an abundance of wildlife, including the bald eagle, blue birds, deer, beavers, and other cute and interesting creatures. 

    Bull Run Regional Park

    Bull Run Camping

    Bull Run's scenic woodland and trails offer miles of hiking and solitude. In springtime, acres of bluebells and other wildflowers bloom beside a picturesque, meandering stream. There are two bathhouses in the campground that offer hot showers, sinks, toilets and laundry facilities.

    Burke Lake Parke

    Burke Lake Camping

    A 218-acre lake with fishing, boating, rowboat rental, camping, a carousel, outdoor volleyball courts, an 18-hole par 3 golf course, mini golf course, and more awaits. Burke Lake Park offers camping surrounded by acres of forest and one of Virginia's most popular fishing holes.The park has 100 shaded campsites, bathhouses with sinks, toilets, dump station, picnic tables, fire rings and grills, for sale charcoal, firewood and ice.

  • If you're looking to get an adrenaline rush, unlimited heart-pumping activities await you at these local spots. From elevated adventures up in the trees to peddling down acres of rugged trails, Fairfax County has extreme adventures high and low. 

    Ziplining and Ropes Course

    GoApe

    Zooming zip lines, heart-stopping Tarzan swings, suspended bridges, and dangling obstacles! Experience a treetop journey with 70 exciting obstacles at Go Ape's aerial adventure park in Springfield. At this unique attraction, you'll find ziplines, a ropes course, a "monkey drop" leap to the ground, and more. 

    Rock Climbing

    great falls park blog post imageWith ethereal mountain gorge views, Great Falls spans 800 acres along the banks of the Potomac River. You may be surprised to know that this beloved Virginia Park is one of the few east coast climbing destinations that allows for climbing directly above water. Are you up to the challenge? 

    Mountain Biking 

    Fountainhead Park bike trail by Stefan Hansen

    Steep climbs, fast descents, various loops, and sharp turns are just a few things that makes a mountain biker's perfect getaway. Fountainhead Regional Park's 15-mile trail has no shortage of thrilling challenges - with loops ranging from beginner to extreme. For more places to get your biking fix, visit our dedicated biking page here

    High-Intensity Hiking

    Great Falls: Hike

    Fairfax County has routes for even the most experienced hiker to get the familiar exhilaration of conquering a new path. Spend the day walking along more than 5,000 acres at NOVA Park's longest natural surface trail, the Bull Run Occoquan Trail. Or, navigate 4.6 miles of rock scrambles, side trails, and river views on the River, Ridge, CCT, and Swamp Trail at Great Falls Park. Find all hiking opportunities in Fairfax County here

  • Looking to get outside, but at a slower pace? Try these outdoor activities that take a little less effort and let you enjoy the view. 

    Golf

    Golf Courses

    Fairfax County is home to some of the best, most scenic golfing in the Northern Virginia and DC area. With over a dozen golf courses to book tee time, you're sure to find the perfect spot to visit. If you're not up for a full 9- or 18-hole game, check out our list of mini-golf courses that are fun for the whole family - some of them even glow in the dark! 

    Horseback Riding

    Horseback Riding

    Horseback riding is a beloved vacation activity that often makes the bucket-list for most travelers. On your getaway to Fairfax County, you'll find miles of riding trails and an abundance of local stables. Saddle up for stunning views and a memorable experience alongside these amazingly elegant creatures. Click here to find your horseback adventure. 

    Birding

    Birding & Bird Watching

    Among several trails, wetlands, hardwood forests, and meadows is some of the best birding in the Washington Metropolitan area. Whether you're a photographer, dedicated bird-watcher, or just a casual observer, you're bound to see all types of unique species at our nature hotspots. Here's where you can find 6 Fairfax County Birding Spots Not to Miss

    Hiking and Biking

    W&OD Trail - Biking - Hiking

    No outdoor getaway is complete without a tranquil journey through nature. For a leisurely journey, the paved W&OD Trail runs along the former roadbed of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad and is popular for bikers and hikers alike. Make it into a day by visiting the railroad's old caboose, nestled in the charming Town of Vienna. For other trail suggestions, check out our list of hiking and biking routes. Additionally, the Park Authority Trail Buddy is also a great resource for finding trails. 

    Paddling

    Morning Kayak - Parks

    It's always fun spend a crisp morning or warm afternoon out on the water! Feel the wind on your skin as you paddle through a vast and changing landscape, and take in natural scenery. There are plenty of places to rent kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, and other watercrafts in Fairfax County. Here are places that you can go to get your paddle on

  • There's nothing quite as magical as the dreamy oasis of flower-lined ponds at the gardens in Fairfax County. Postcard worthy views are abundant at these botanical retreats. 

    Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

    Meadowlark Botanical Garden

    Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is one of the hidden treasures of Fairfax County, especially with its Korean Bell Garden. Among a profusion of colorful blooms—azaleas, lilies, daffodils and so much more, you'll find a pier complete with a gazebo and three sparkling lakes surrounded by weeping cherry trees. Over 100 acres of ornamental gardens and native plant collections are featured, and the park’s walking trails offer the best views for visitors. 

    Green Spring Gardens

    Green Spring

    Green Spring Gardens Park is home to a restored 18th century manor house in the heart of a national historic district. Wander into the gazebo, and relax alongside a wooded stream valley and ponds. For the gardening enthusiast, the possibilities for new ideas are endless as there are more than 20 thematic demonstration gardens and a horticultural reference library. 

    River Farm 

    River Farm, home to the American Horticultural Society

    Situated on 25 landscaped acres overlooking the Potomac, River Farm is the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. This beautiful landmark is acclaimed for its spell-binding vistas, as well as its creative children’s garden, beautiful four-acre meadow, and colorful flower displays.

  • Outdoor tours are a great way to spend a slow-paced day seeing new sights and learning new things. An abundance of knowledge, new sights, and fun can be found on these Fairfax County tours! 

    Walking Tours 

    Reston public art - Midtown Community Mural

    Explore larger-than life murals and winding sculptures with Public Art Reston’s collection of over 81 permanent and temporary artworks. Two of their most notable walking tours are through Lake Anne Village Center and Reston Town Center. History buffs will love to step back in time with the self-guided tour at Colvin Run Mill Historic Site, the sole surviving operational 19th century water-powered mill in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. For more tour ideas, here are 25 Tour Ideas Near DC

    Boat Trips

    Mount Vernon

    Embark on a cruise to George Washington's estate complete with a narrated riverfront tour. You'll pass historic and famous landmarks, including the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol on the Mount Vernon Sightseeing Cruise, which departs from Washington D.C. Once you arrive at Mount Vernon, you will have 4 hours to explore the Estate and walk in the footsteps of our first Commander in Chief and his family. 

  • Whether you're looking to unwind with a bottle (or two) or wine, or to sip craft beer, Fairfax County has no shortage of locally made options to satisfy your taste. Stroll through the vineyards of our historic wineries or discover your favorite local brew at one of our taprooms. 

    Wineries

    Fairfax County is dubbed the "Gateway to Virginia Wine Country," as it's home to two historic wineries - Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, VA and The Winery at Bull Run in Centreville, VA. These are the closest vineyards to Washington, D.C. and are home to various award-winning Virginia wines. White or red? We say both! 

    Breweries

    Caboose Commons

    Our craft breweries are bustling with locals and visitors alike who are seeking out delicious, locally brewed beer.  We invite you to pick up your Fairfax County Breweries Field Guide and discover your new favorite beer at our breweries. After all, there's nearly a dozen to choose from! Click here to explore our breweries