DC’s beautiful monuments, iconic buildings and National Parks make the perfect backdrop for family photos. But if you want to capture your kids in their natural environment, the playground is your best bet. The DC area boasts some of the most Insta-worthy playgrounds in the country, some even winning awards and world-wide attention. From an oversized pirate ship aground by the Potomac River to Wizard of Oz-themed play structures (complete with the Wizard’s castle) here are some of the most extraordinary, seriously fun and downright inventive playgrounds around town that are worth featuring on your Instagram feed.
This playground has it all: a toddler play area for the littles, a massive climb-on structure that is possibly the largest piece of playground equipment in DC (!), cabin-like structures, a water spray pad and more. There are mature trees surrounding this play area and the toddler area is completely shaded (perfect for these dog days of summer!). If your little wants to cool off without getting sprayed, there is also a water table.
5900 33rd St. NW, Upper Chevy Chase
Beauvoir Outdoor Playground
Sometimes kids just need to run around and play and zipline…in the middle of a metropolitan city! When that happens, take them to this private school playground. Open to the public when the Beauvoir School is closed (typically after 6 pm weekdays and on weekends), this playground was designed with the idea that outdoor play is as imperative to children’s development as anything else. You’ll find formations and spaces for kids of all ages, including swings, climbing structures, wooden bridges and even a super fun zipline.
Where: 3500 Woodley Rd., NW
Watkins Regional Park
Approximately a 30 min. trip from downtown DC, this park is worth the drive. Once you arrive (note: there is ample parking), follow the yellow brick road (follow, follow, follow, follow) to a magical, Wizard of Oz-themed playground. Slide down Dorothy's ruby slippers and climb up Emerald City's castle. Due to the Insta-worthy play structures, this no-admission park can get crowded. If the park feels too peopley, head to Watkins Playground #2, a less coveted play space that has ample room to run around. You will also find an antique carousel and a miniature train within this park.
Editor's Note: The miniature train is closed for restoration during the 2022 season.
301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro, MD
photo: Arlington Parks and Recreation
Your eagle-eyed kids will spot this newly renovated playground blocks away. What they’re spying is the top of Fairlington Park’s cool (and tall) climbing structure. Not for the faint of heart the ropes course-style equipment comes with a floating bridge and an enclosed, curvy slide. The rest of the playground comes with a sandbox for littles, hard seat swings, artificial turf throughout. Bonus: Water fountains are on site and restrooms are in the adjacent community center.
3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, VA
photo: Cabin John Regional Park
Cabin John Regional Park
Want to see what Montgomery County’s best and biggest park looks like? Then head over to Cabin John Regional Park. Geared for all ages this park offers loads of the usual slides and climbing structures but the “reel” (put intended) photo opp here is the ride-on miniature train. Hiking trails and the Locust Grove Nature Center make for an amazing sensory-filled afternoon. Nearby fields and tennis courts entice the adults and the whole family can whiz around on skates at the indoor ice rink.
7400 Tuckerman Ln., Bethesda, MD
photo: Anacostia Park
Anacostia Park Playground
Just on the heels of celebrating their centennial, Anacostia Park is the place to be and you’ll definitely want to check out their playground! Along the peaceful banks of the Anacostia River, little pirates can meander and find a massive pirate ship! This themed-playground is probably the greatest enticement at this park with three separate play areas. Kids can climb aboard the sails and mast—and then slide on out! Anacostia Park also has tennis and basketball courts, as well as a roller skate park with free skate rentals.
1900 Anacostia Dr. SE, Anacostia
Harry Thomas Sr. Playspace
The organic structures in this park celebrates the Fibonacci Sequence (a series of numbers starting with zero where each number is the sum of the two that precedes it. The ratio of numbers in this series best represent the Golden Ratio. This playground is so hip Mental Floss named it one of the top 16 coolest play structures in the world!
1743 Lincoln Rd. NE, Eckington
—Meghan Yudes Meyers, Guiomar Ochoa and