July is National Park and Recreation month, a perfect time to check out the wide range of activities offered through NoVA’s parks and recreation departments.
This month and every month, these departments offer free or low-cost programs, such as art and music classes, fitness and sport programs, nature programs, and history lessons.
Below is a sampling of the fun activities around Northern Virginia.
Use Your Passport to the Parks
In honor of Parks and Recreation Month, some park systems are running a special Passport to the Parks program through July 31, where you can check in to participating parks and potentially win prizes. In Prince William, check in to four of seven participating locations, at events like Rec on Wheels popups or a community yard sale. If you attend four sites, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a prize pack, a 30-day pass to a rec center, or a pavilion rental.
In Loudoun County, you can attend programs at four participating parks, including a Bob Ross painting workshop on July 16 and nature sketching July 19–20. If you make it to either all four parks or attend six programs, you could win prizes.
Learn About Native Flora and Fauna
The parks are an excellent resource to learn all about the natural world, such as the animals, plants, and insects that inhabit the parks. Sit in on a nature program like Fairfax County’s Dye It Up program on August 12 to learn about how to make and use natural dyes, or Prince William County’s August 3 Reptile World program, which teaches attendees all about reptiles. The T-shirt dying class is a one-hour program that costs $8. The reptile program is $5.50 for anyone ages 2 or older.
Catch Free Concerts
Many parks and recreation departments host free, outdoor concert series during the warmer months. Stop by events like Prince William’s Fridays at 5; Arlington’s Lubber Run Summer Concert Series; Fairfax County’s Summer Entertainment Series, which encompasses 11 local series across 20 venues; and Loudoun County’s kid-friendly Tune in Tuesdays.
It’s the sport that everybody’s talking about — and you don’t need a membership to a fancy fitness club to try it. Grab a few friends and some paddles and head to a public court in your town. Alexandria has courts at seven sites. Arlington has courts at eight sites. Fairfax County has courts at 24 sites.
Learn Civil War History
Parks aren’t just about nature; some programs explore the history that happened in the area. In Arlington, visitors can learn about the history of places like Fort C.F. Smith Park and the lives of the soldiers who were stationed there during the Civil War. There are programs catered to kids, families, and even an adults-only class that covers the history of prohibition.
Find Balance in Nature
Hit a Bullseye
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at shooting a bow and arrow, look no further than Prince William County’s beginner, intermediate, and family archery classes, where you’ll learn the skill from a USA Archery–certified instructor.
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