Courtesy of Visit Alexandria

Fort Ward Park

Civil War history inside the Beltway

Manassas National Battlefield may be the crown jewel of NoVA Civil War parks, but history buffs will be happy to know that there are plenty of Civil War sites and relics inside the Beltway. Located just a 15-minute drive from D.C. and a couple miles from the historic Old Town and Del Ray neighborhoods, Fort Ward prides itself on being the best-preserved Union fort in the D.C. area. In fact, 90 percent of the fort’s earthworks are intact, and visitors can see original cannons and artillery throughout the half-mile-long interpretive trail. Interestingly, the fort became an important African-American educational enclave after the Civil War and was the site of the first African-American one-room schoolhouse. At 45 acres, the park is just the right size for a family outing or quick visit. There are plenty of picnic tables and grills, as well as a playground and an adjacent historic cemetery. The on-site museum is small enough to keep kids’ interests, and the staff is friendly and informative. Special events include soldier-led tours, Civil War camp days and lectures.

Hours: Park 9 a.m.-sunset; museum Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
Fee: None
Size: 45 acres
Great for: Civil War relics, museum, interpretive trail, barbecue grills, playground, Civil War reenactments and lectures
Other activities/amenities: Restrooms, water fountains
Know before you go: Museum is closed on Mondays
Where: 4301 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria; 703-746-4848


Fort Marcy

Where: G.W. Parkway between Spout Run Parkway and Route 123
Know before you go: Only accessible on northbound G.W. lanes; no restrooms or fountains
Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

C.F. Smith Fort

Where: 2411 24th St. N., Arlington
Hours: Sunrise to sunset


Courtesy of NPR

Fort Hunt

Where: 8999 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria
Other activities/amenities: Restrooms, fountains, softball fields, a multiuse park with athletic fields and restroom facilities.
Hours: Sunrise to sunset   Civil War buffs may also want to visit quiet and secluded Fort Marcy or C.F. Smith Fort, both located in upscale north Arlington neighborhoods. All three—Fort Marcy, C.F. Smith Fort and Fort Hunt—boast intact batteries and other Civil War artifacts.

Northern Virginia’s Best Urban Parks

(July 2015)