From fall festivals to educational programming, here’s what’s going on in Northern Virginia parks to start the fall season.
The many parks in Northern Virginia are home to some of the most unique events in the region, ranging from seasonal festivals to weekly yoga sessions looking out on the Potomac River. No matter what you’re interested in, there is an outdoor activity for everyone to participate in this September. Here, we share them all.
Junior Ranger Weekend
Sept. 6-8, all day
Are your little ones interested in all-things nature? If so, you’re in luck, as Junior Ranger Weekend is approaching. As they learn essential outdoor skills, including how to build a fire and the seven tenets of the National Park Service’s Leave No Trace policy, your youngsters will have a great time outdoors eating hot dogs and s’mores by a fire. Registration is required for this event. // Bull Run Regional Park: 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville; free
W&OD 45th Anniversary 5K Run/Walk and Family Fun Festival
Sept. 7, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
In celebration of 45 years on 45 miles of trails at the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park, the Ashburn community is hosting a full day of events for kids and adults alike. While the morning begins with a 5K along the trails, the festivities will continue with an all-day DJ, a moon bounce, a live petting zoo with pony rides, food vendors and so much more. // Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park: 21293 Smiths Switch Road, Ashburn; $30-$40 for 5K, free entry for festival
Sept. 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
For one day only, you can bring your furry friend to any of NoVA’s water parks for a swim. From the morning to early afternoon, you and Fido can play fetch and swim alongside one another for just $5 at your favorite water park. // locations vary; $5
Yoga in the Park
Sept. 8, 8 a.m.
Start your Sunday morning with a little relaxation at this once-a-month event held alongside the Potomac River at Algonkian National Park. Registered yogi Poppy will guide individuals of all skill levels through an 90-minute practice, leaving you refreshed and ready for the day ahead. // Algonkian Regional Park: 47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling; $25
11th Annual Prince William Cruisers’ Benefit Car Show
Sept. 8, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
From trucks to motorcycles, this event will feature hundreds of vehicles for residents to check out. As you walk around to take in the old, new and everything in between, you’ll enjoy music from the sounds of DJ Aaron Raffle, T-shirts, light bites and refreshments and more. Plus, all proceeds from the day’s festivities will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project of Virginia. // Occoquan Regional Park: 9751 Ox Road, Lorton; $20 registration fee, $3 entry, free for children 12 and under
2019 Algonkian Club Championship
Sept. 8, 10 a.m.-noon
Prepare yourself for two hours of golf, eats and, of course, fun. Whether you are a member of the Algonkian course or not, you can come out for this 18-hole tournament that includes a golf cart, food and awards for the best players on the green. // Algonkian Golf Course: 47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling; $40 for members, $60 for non-members
Sept. 11, Sept. 18 & Sept. 25, 10:15-11 a.m.
Let your youngster have a first look at nature life at this weekly event happening throughout the month. Each Wednesday, park staff will explore a new topic surrounding the outdoors and the life within it. This activity is meant for parents and children ages 2 to 5. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; $12 drop in, $40 for series
The Local History NOVA Parks Preserve
Sept. 12, 7-9 p.m.
Head over to Marymount University in Arlington for a lecture surrounding the past 60 years of NOVA Parks. The host will discuss the history of each park, as well as how far the grounds have come since inception. // Marymount University Main Campus, Library Auditorium: 2807 N. Glebe Road, Arlington; free
Fall Clean Up Day
Sept. 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
As outdoor life in our parks becomes more beautiful in the fall, it also becomes more fragile. This month, help protect the nature that lives around us through the fall clean up day, where participants will help with trail clean-up projects, invasive plant removal and other tasks as needed. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; free
Second Saturday Concert – Western Avenue String Band
Sept. 14, 6-8 p.m.
Spend an evening under the stars at the Potomac Overlook for the final night of this summer’s second Saturday concert series. This week’s star will be the Western Avenue String Band, so be prepared to dance to original bluegrass and fiddle tunes while snacking on the picnic you bring for you and your family to enjoy. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; free
Spirited History Whiskey Dinner
Sept. 14, 6:30-10 p.m.
For the ninth year in a row, the staff at Aldie Mill Historic Park will host an intimate evening at the historic Aldie Mill. The meal consists of four courses, each paired with different flavors of whiskey prepared by Parallel Wine and Whiskey Bad. Following the dinner, guests will explore the grounds and be met with a grinding demonstration by award-winning miller Mike Devine. // Aldie Mill Historic Park: 39401 John Mosby Highway, Aldie; $115
Walk in the Woods: Occoquan Regional Park
Sept. 15, 10 a.m.-noon
This weekend event is both a lecture series and a workout at the same time. Listen as local expert Mike Nardolilli discusses the interplay of water demand, politics and zoning here in NoVA as you walk along the 3-mile terrain. Be sure to bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated. // Occoquan Regional Park: 9751 Ox Road, Lorton; free
Homeschool at the Park
Sept. 19, 1-2:30 p.m.
This September, home-schooled students will have the chance to learn from naturalists at the Potomac Overlook. During the event, the leaders will take students out to explore the park, learn about wildlife and participate in hands-on activities. This event is limited to home-schooled students ages 6 to 12. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington
Doggie Dash 5K
Sept. 21, 9-11 a.m.
Spend the morning getting fit with your pooch for the annual Doggie Dash 5K. For about two hours, you and Fido will have the chance to match—you in a shirt, he or she in a bandana—as you run through the beautiful Bull Run Regional Park. // Bull Run Regional Park: 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville; $35
Crafts at Carlyle House
Sept. 21 & Sept. 22, noon-3 p.m.
In honor of the King Street Art Festival happening this same weekend, the folks at the Carlyle House will be hosting a free, DIY event for children. The youngsters will be able to paint their own version of a floorcloth, a popular 18th-century floor covering, and take it home when they are done. // Carlyle House Historic Park: 121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria; free
Sept. 21, 4-5:30 p.m.
For those ages 12 and up, this is a great opportunity to try your hand at being a naturalist at the park. Throughout the afternoon, participants will learn about the animals at the center, how to care for them and also what their life would be like in the surrounding wilderness. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; $10
Eyewitness to War: Fourth Sundays at Mt. Zion
Sept. 22, 1-5 p.m.
Take the day to explore the historic site of Mt. Zion. Guests will have the chance to see the 1851 Old School Baptist Church, the site of an 1864 battle and the adjacent cemetery, all while learning from historians about the lifestyle that once existed on those grounds. // Mt. Zion Historic Park: 40309 John Mosby Highway, Aldie; free
Trivia Night at the Nature Center
Sept. 22, 6-7 p.m.
For the first time, the Potomac Overlook will host a trivia night, with all questions relating to the environment, nature and the living things within it. So if science was (or still is) your thing, it’s time to take advantage of that knowledge with a team of two to six individuals this month. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; $15
Pohick Bay Club Championship
Sept. 28, 8 a.m.
Take a day for yourself at the golf course at the end of this month with the Pohick Bay Club Championship. Throughout the day, athletes of varying ages and genders will compete against one another in separate flights for the chance to win a trophy and other awards that will be announced the day of. // Pohick Bay Golf Course: 10301 Gunston Road, Lorton; $55 per player
Temple Hall Fall Festival & Corn Maize
Opens Sept. 28, continuing for six weeks
You know autumn has arrived when the six-week, annual Temple Hall Fall Festival & Corn Maize opens for the public. This season’s festival consists of giant jumping pillows, pumpkin blasters and corn cannons, live music, pig races and, of course, the famous 20-acre corn maze. Plus, this year marks the debut of the A-maize-ing Race 1.5-Mile Fun Run that will kick off the festivities at 10 a.m. on opening day. // Temple Hall Farm: 15855 Limestone School Road, Leesburg; $12-$15
Animal Feeding – Raptors
Sept. 28, 1-2 p.m.
Bring the kids out for this one-of-a-kind event, where they can learn all about the hunting techniques of NoVA’s native birds. As you listen to the naturalist share his knowledge, you’ll also be able to witness live birds eating their prey. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; $5
An Evening of 18th Century Games
Sept. 28, 6-8 p.m.
You are cordially invited to participate in an evening of 18th-century games and refreshments hosted on the Magnolia Terrace of the Carlyle House. Following a tour of the first floor, you’ll indulge in light hors d’oeuvres and two complimentary cocktails before playing classic games like Shut the Box and Whist. // Carlyle House Historic Park: 121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria; $40
Agents of Discovery
Sept. 29, 2-4 p.m.
Agents of Discovery is a free, educational and entertaining mobile app that will take you across the park as you try to complete as many challenges as possible for a special prize. All participants will meet at the nature center before heading out in teams on a unique adventure. // Potomac Overlook Regional Park: 2845 Marcey Road, Arlington; free
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