Though parks, gardens and outdoor recreation areas are welcoming visitors again, this isn't a sign that things are back to normal — wear masks in public, stay six feet from others and wash or sanitize your hands as much as possible. Also, remember that many public restrooms remain closed, especially in larger parks.
It’s going to be a while before we see elements of Life As We Knew It — outdoor concerts, street festivals, Smithsonian museums — but being able to get out on a kayak or to play a round of miniature golf is a welcome relief.
Hiking: Many major hiking destinations are open, including Great Falls, Harpers Ferry and Sky Meadows State Park. Shenandoah National Park is widely accessible, including Skyline Drive and all the overlooks. Some of the most popular trails, such as Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon, just reopened this week, so expect crowds. (The National Park Service suggests visitors “use this opportunity to explore less popular areas that you’ve never been to.”)
Biking: The most popular trails, such as the W&OD Trail and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, remain open. The National Park Service has expanded areas for running and cycling by closing portions of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park; Anacostia Drive in Anacostia Park; and Fort Dupont Drive in Fort Dupont Park. In Montgomery County, portions of Sligo Creek Parkway, Beach Drive and Little Falls Parkway are closed from 9 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Boating, kayaking and paddleboarding: Access to the water is mixed. Boating in D.C. has opened rentals of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Thompson’s Boat Center in Georgetown, the Key Bridge Boathouse and at the Wharf, but other locations, including those at National Harbor and the Washington Sailing Marina in Alexandria, remain closed. Annapolis Canoe and Kayak resumed renting kayaks on June 1. While Bladensburg Waterfront Park’s trails are open, the canoe and kayak rentals remain closed. D.C. Sail, which operates out of Diamond Teague Park near Nationals Park, hopes to be able to resume rentals and programs later this month.
Golf: Courses and driving ranges throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia are open, though clubhouse facilities, club shops and other indoor facilities remain closed. Mini-golf courses are closed in Fairfax and Prince George’s, though Upton Regional Park’s course, which boasts one of the longest holes in the country, has reopened.
Pick-your-own farms: The chaotic joy of fruit picking is going to look different this year. Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, for instance, has embraced “Social Distancing Strawberry Picking,” requiring guests to make reservations for specific 90-minute time slots Tuesday through Saturday. Other options for strawberries include Woodbine’s Larriland Farms and Waldorf’s Shlagel Farms. All have different rules about reservations and distancing; see their Facebook pages for updates. And if you’d rather brighten your house than fill your stomach, Purcellville’s Fields of Flowers offers pick-your-own blooms on its farm daily.
Museums and attractions: D.C.'s most popular museums and galleries remain closed — even those that are predominantly outdoors, such as the National Zoo and the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden. But Glenstone, the Potomac museum of contemporary art opened in 2018 by Mitchell and Emily Wei Rales, welcomes art and nature lovers to its sprawling 230 acres of grounds, which include Jeff Koons’s flowering “Split-Rocker” sculpture and site-specific pieces by Andy Goldsworthy and Ellsworth Kelly. Reservations are required, and no indoor facilities, including bathrooms, will be open. In Washington, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood Estate reopened its gardens to members only on June 2, and will allow “front line workers,” including doctors, grocery store employees and delivery drivers, to make reservations this week. Everyone must show ID to take advantage of the deal. (If you’re not a member and want access to the grounds, annual membership starts at $60 per person or $85 per family.)
Parks: The vast majority of outdoor areas managed by the National Park Service are open, from the parking lot at Gravelly Point to the memorials on the Mall. The biggest exception is Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, which remains shuttered. The U.S. National Arboretum has reopened on a limited basis: The grounds are accessible on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 5 p.m., and some attractions, such as the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, Fern Valley and the National Herb Garden will remain closed because “social distancing is not possible” on narrow pathways. Beaches at Maryland and Virginia state parks, including Sandy Point State Park and Lake Anna State Park, are also available again, though subject to the usual capacity limits. Just remember, though, that while some parks are open, the amenities within, such as piers, playgrounds or volleyball courts, might not be.
Farm breweries and wineries: Although some indoor bars and taprooms are beginning to reopen, the best way to enjoy a beer or glass of wine is to head out to a winery or farm brewery. Instead of being crammed into a busy urban beer garden, you’re surrounded by acres of land, fresh beer or wine and, hopefully, a view. Experiences vary wildly, so check social media before making plans. Bluemont Vineyard requires reservations through Tock, and Waredaca Brewing requires advance booking through Open Table; Wheatland Spring recommends, but doesn’t require, online reservations on weekends, especially if you want a choice table surrounded by fields of barley; and Old Westminster Winery and Brookeville Beer Farm are first-come, first-served. Other popular destinations, such as Tarara Winery, remain voluntarily closed at the moment.