So it’s pretty much the best time of year for an outdoor workout. A free, no-waiting-for-the-machine, breathe-that-incredible-crisp-autumn-air workout.
There are eleven Cava Grill locations in the DC area these days. So here are eleven regional outdoor workouts to match. Let’s get out there!
1. Ashburn // Running along the Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
Located in Lansdowne in Loudoun County, this sprawling 100-acre trail leads you through parkland and along the Potomac for a scenic run. Hidden by a golf course, you have to follow the signs to the trail, but the club allows you to use their restrooms and eat at their snack bar located at the entrance of the trail.
#ProTip – Also check out the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, which lies inside the park, as well as the historic Elizabeth Mills canal lock system.
2. Bethesda // Jogging in Rock Creek Park
A natural oasis in a concrete-dominated city, this trail follows the river all the way from northern VA to northern MD and through DC – so expect everything from scenic landscapes to monument views as you explore.
#ProTip – Check out the Rock Creek Park Horse Center in the middle of the park, which offers a program called Rock Creek Riders, boarding for private horses, and trail rides as well as classes open to the public.
3. Chinatown // Waking up for the The November Project
This grassroots fitness movement (which originated out of Boston) has a simple ask – get out of bed and meet at a designated spot. The challenge is that you’re meeting for a 5:30am or 6:30am workout. In a big city like DC, NP is a great way to build community at the same time as you’re building your body.
#ProTip – Leave your negativity at home; this workout is all about uplifting yourself and fellow participants – there will be high-fives and hugging.
4. Columbia Heights // Hitting the stairs at Meridian Hill Park
Just past U Street, you can find this 12-acre urban park with unique statues, stunning architecture, and even a US presidential memorial of James Buchanan. It’s the perfect place to work your legs on all of those stairs – and then enjoy a picnic in front of the largest cascading fountain in North America.
#ProTip – Take the Meridian Hill Park/16th street cell phone tour after you finish your workout.
5. DCA // Biking to Gravelly Point Park
Follow the paved Mount Vernon trail on the GWU Parkway to Gravelly Point Park, where you can watch planes from Reagan National Airport fly directly overhead. The trail runs 18.5 miles from the nation’s capital to Theodore Roosevelt Island, and is a great scenic trail to bike through every season.
#ProTip: Bring a picnic for the tables on the grassy green field where there’s also open space for sports activities – and plane spotting. There’s free parking, too.
6. Fairfax // Biking through the Eakin Community Park
Just east of Fairfax, you’ll find the quiet woods surrounding Accotink Creek. This is the Eakin Community Park. Biking through this park is the perfect way to find a bit of serenity. Parking is available and there are also sports fields, tennis courts, and beach sand volleyball courts.
#ProTip – Make sure to check out the community garden managed by Green Springs Garden Park.
7. Kentlands // Kayaking along Clopper Lake
Kayaking on this 90-acre lake surrounded by the Seneca Creek State Park is a scenic way to get in your exercise for the day and enjoy the water at the same time. The park closes daily at sunset, so make sure you plan a day trip.
#ProTip – Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the park in the picnic area – you’ll want to refuel after using up all of that energy on the water.
8. Montgomery Mall // Hiking on the Cabin John Stream Valley Trail
Take a hike on this 8.8-mile natural-surface trail, which passes through Cabin John Regional Park and has a hikers-only portion south of River Road. The two entrances of the trail also have picnic areas, playgrounds, sports fields, and an ice rink open to the public.
#ProTip – Be careful when crossing roads, as this trail runs along major interstate highway 270.
9. Mosaic District // Biking the Washington & Old Dominion Trail
Take a break from too-small city bike lanes and get out on this 9-foot-wide paved path. The 45-mile-long trail runs all the way from Arlington County to rural Purcellville, VA, and passes through picturesque towns like Falls Church and Leesburg.
#ProTip – If you want to do the entire trip, consider breaking it up into two days and spending the night in one of the many B&B’s along the route.
10. Tenleytown // Interval training around the National Zoo
Take the trail along Rock Creek Park to get to the 163-acre zoological park. With plenty of room to roam, the park is organized by animal family and is easy to navigate. And what better motivation to jumpstart your fitness than an animal show while you’re getting down to it?
#ProTip – The Zoo is open 364 days a year and is free to the public – so you pretty much have no excuses to skip this workout location.
11. Tysons Corner // Hiking in the C&O Canal Historical Park
Located along the west bank of the Potomac, this 184.5-mile trail runs from DC all the up toward the Pennsylvania border in Cumberland, MD. Since the path is not paved, hiking is ideal – and wildlife is abundant! There is no main entrance, so you can enter the trail at any point along the path.
#ProTip – Take a public boat ride along the canal in your choice of a 1870’s packet boat or 1920′s electric launch boat replica.