Summer Activity Guide at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Summer Activity Guide

Exploring Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Washington, DC. Whether it’s searching for birds, biking to and from the Gardens along the Anacostia River Trail, or simply taking a stroll through the lotus and lily ponds, there are so many ways to enjoy what this national park has to offer, especially in the summer. Below are just a few recommendations Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens offers for an amazing adventure through Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this summer.

photo of two people in red adirondack chairs facing the lotus ponds at kenilworth aquatic gardens

For Families with Young Kids (Or the Kid in All of Us!)

Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has developed a number of free downloadable guides to help you explore the park. Whether you and your family like to search for birds, plants, or animals, we’ve got a guide for you! 

A photo of two girls holding up junior ranger badges at kenilworth aquatic gardensOr if you’re more interested in searching for plants and critters high and low as you explore the park, check out our free downloadable Summer Scavenger Hunt here! You can also pick this up at the park at the Friends table or ask a ranger! 

If you have young kids who’d like to become a ranger one day, why not explore becoming a Junior Ranger on your next visit to the park? Pick up a Junior Ranger book from a ranger when you arrive at the park. Simply complete four of the activities at the park, find a ranger, and get sworn in as an official Junior Ranger of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens!

Explore with Exercise

Some of the best ways to explore Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is by getting a slightly different perspective, whether that’s on a bike or a kayak, or another fun way!

Biking along the Anacostia River Trail and into Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a great way to see the city, enjoy the river, and then enjoy a calming pit stop at the park to enjoy a quick lunch or breather before heading back out to the trail. There are some great resources for exploring the trail here. 

Great photo of Beaver Dam Creek near Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens by Matt Carl!

Kayaking is another unique way of exploring the park. Renting your own kayak to then explore the marshes around Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a fantastic way of seeing the park from a new perspective. Bonus: if you enjoy birding, this is a great way to get up close and personal to some of the many birds that call Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens home. Just be sure to time your trip right! The river is tidal and the marshes dry up in low tide. Make sure you don’t get stuck! You can check out this handy tide chart before you paddle out!

Explore the Animals of Kenilworth 

We love checking the #DogsofKenilworth hashtag over on Instagram if you get a fun shot of your pup! Great photo from Tim Ervin.

The native wildlife at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is some of the most unique and interesting in the city and it can be tough to spot some of these creatures anywhere else in DC. The landscape of the park offers an opportunity to get up close to native birds, reptiles, and small mammals in their natural habitat. 

Explore these fascinating creatures by coming out early in the morning with your binoculars and camera and explore the boardwalk. Grab a group of friends or head on over by yourself for a chance to see beavers, groundhogs, snakes, turtles, osprey, herons, and so much more! 

If you’re unsure of what to look for, download one of our free bird, animal, or plant guides to help you identify some of the common flora and fauna found at the park. 

If you have a furry friend of your own, consider an afternoon jog with your dog around the park. Your pup is sure to enjoy smelling the unique flora and exploring all the critters that call this park home as much as you will! Remember to always keep your dog on a leash and pack up any waste on the trail. 

Get Creative! 

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens offers some of the most stunning natural views in the District, and many photographers and artists take advantage of this. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, or simply wish to explore the Gardens in a new way, painting and drawing, or taking videos and photos can be a fun way to capture the beauty of this place and make some special memories. 

So the next time you visit the Gardens, find a place to observe closely as you sketch the flowers, wildlife, and ponds. Or grab your camera and find a quiet spot to capture the perfect moment that represents your day at the park. You may be surprised what you’re able to create!

End Notes

Whatever you decide to do at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, it’s sure to be filled with beauty and fun. We hope you bring a friend or family member on your next trip and enjoy a new way of experiencing this oasis! Remember to always recreate responsibly, and we’ll see you soon!

From the 2018 Lotus & Water Lily Festival, by Rachel Hendrix.


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