Monday, August 29, 2016

5 outdoor places to visit in the DC area before summer ends

It’s hard to believe it, but Labor Day is right around the corner, signaling the end of summer. Why does summer seem to fly by so fast? Are you looking for a few last end of the summer outings before summer officially ends? Or maybe a road trip? 

Here are some ideas: 

1. Visit Burnside Farms

The “Summer of Sunflowers” takes place every year, but when it takes place varies depending on spring and summer weather conditions. This year the festival is running a little later than usual and is currently going on right now, but not for long.  The peak sunflower blooms have passed, but it sounds as if there are a few more days left before the flowers all go to see. I’ll probably head out there in the next day or two.

2. Catch a Nats game

The Washington Nationals are currently on the road through Sunday, Sept. 4, but they’ll be back in town on Labor Day for a home game against the Atlanta Braves. Game time 4:05 p.m. What better way to close out the summer season than going to root for the currently first-place home team?

3. Take a ride on Skyline Drive

This year I discovered the absolute beauty to be found this time of the year on Skyline Drive. Loved it so much, we went back twice. While there were a lot more wildflowers at the end of July, there was still plenty to see in August, especially the numerous butterflies. Additionally, there were reports of many black bear spottings last week (Edit August 2017: We visited third week in August and spotted two black bears and we know of at least two other sightings in the Big Meadows area).

Even if you don't spot a bear, you are likely to see a barred owl, deer or other critter. And the views are outstanding and there are many different hiking trails to explore. Temperatures are also very agreeable. Just remember the bug spray!

4. Explore Theodore Roosevelt Island

This is one I’m aiming to do if not by summer’s end, but this fall. Located on the Potomac River, this island is a memorial to President Theodore Roosevelt who was a huge advocate for conservation and loved the outdoors. Run by the National Park Service, the island has 88 acres to explore. Learn the history of the island, go bird watching, or take a walk through the 1.5 mile Swamp Trail. The island is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

5. Take a trip to Kent Island

We made a stopover in mid-August on Kent Island on our way to New Jersey’s Long Beach Island. We weren’t sure what we were going to do, but Kent Island is a place I always have wanted to see. We found ourselves at the Terrapin Nature Park in Stevensville. If you love the outdoors, you’ll like this secluded area. You get off the highway and drive through an industrial area before you come to this park. It’s like a hidden treasure. 

There are three primary trails to explore, including one that leads to the beach on the Chesapeake Bay with fab views of the bridge. Along the trails you can spot wildlife too, I was thrilled to see a blue heron. The park is dog-friendly too. There is more to see on Kent Island, but we didn’t get the chance to explore much beyond Terrapin due to time constraints we had that day. Definitely on my list of places to return to and spend more time.  

Even if you don’t make any of these before summer ends, with the exception of Burnside Farms and Nationals’ Park (depending on how the rest of the season goes – go Nats!!), these are all great places to explore on a weekend trip in the fall.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Photos on Friday: Cloud formations and beautiful views on Skyline Drive

Earlier this week I posted about the incredible wildlife spottings we had during our Skyline Drive outing. 

Being today is Photos on Friday I wanted to share a few more pictures taken in Shenandoah National Park. Such a beautiful place.

Visitors to the park enjoy the gorgeous views
The wildflowers on the mountain were plenty. Lots of butterflies too, I didn't realize one had "photo bombed" this shot (yellow spot)

Lovely clouds on that Friday afternoon
Views from one of the overlooks