Party Earth Review Just west of the city of Arlington, and less than two miles south of the heart of Washington, DC, the glorified lawn that makes up Gravelly Point Park might not seem like a worthwhile destination – until the vigorous roar... ... read full review
George Washington Parkway
Arlington, VA 22202
Blue, Yellow Lines: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Arlington, Virginia –
Just west of the city of Arlington, and less than two miles south of the heart of Washington, DC, the glorified lawn that makes up Gravelly Point Park might not seem like a worthwhile destination – until the vigorous roar of a 747 explodes overhead.
Built within spitting distance of Reagan National Airport, the park is often touted as the best place in the country to watch planes, which can include more than thirty takeoffs and landings an hour during peak traffic.
Couples, groups of friends, and families gather daily along the park’s southern knoll, their audible gasps silenced by the behemoth flying machines that seem to barely clear the runway fence a few hundred yards away.
On pleasant days, a stretch of the eighteen-mile Mt. Vernon trail that runs through the park gets crowded with pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists, while footballers and rugby teams frequent a large lawn in the center, and lovebirds settle in on blankets to admire the iconic monuments and landmarks visible just across the river.
Open skies and free entry make the park a hot spot to watch Fourth of July fireworks, though a relaxing atmosphere and casual setting entices outdoorsy types all year long, whether they show up to fish or just toss a ball around.
No matter who’s in the park, their senses will fly high when the planes roar overhead, making Gravelly Point Park a unique experience for those seeking a laid-back day outside – interrupted by a few dozen 900,000-pound hunks of gravity-defying metal.
Mix of outdoorsy locals and tourists, couples on dates, groups playing sports and Frisbee, runners, bikers, and a boom box contingent in the parking lot, all ages.
Front row seats for the takeoffs and landings (depending on wind direction) of 747s, every one to nine minutes.
No food. No alcohol permitted in park.
Casual: shorts, t-shirts, jeans, flip-flops, hats, running gear.
Since northern winds cause planes to land on the far side of the airport, the experience is best when the winds are coming in from the south and planes fly directly overhead. Saturday and Sunday afternoons, which normally coincide with the most airplane traffic, are most crowded.
The Pentagon (1400 Defense Pentagon), headquarters of the Department of Defense, offers free daily tours (advance reservations required).