Exploring: THE NEW Jones Point Park
At the end of our street, just five blocks or so, is the Woodrow Wilson bridge. It’s quite an impressive structure, made of countless enormous concrete supports, and provides a southern link between Virginia and Maryland.
In the year we’ve lived in Old Town, we’ve passed under the massive bridge many times as it covers a section of the Mount Vernon Trail, something we use often for walking and running. All this time, the underside of the bridge has been a mess. Completely overgrown and covered with piles of concrete, dirt, and rock. A construction sign said something about “Jones Point Park”, but we weren’t sure what that meant…it was not park-like in the least.
Two weeks ago we noticed something different.
Turns out, Jones Point Park IS a park! A National Park! And after years of renovation, is ready for visitors.
Green grass, basketball courts, playground, climbing structures, fishing piers, parking lots, bike paths, and educational signage span across what was once a wasteland. Gravel paths connect the Old Town neighborhood and it’s community gardens to the beautiful park grounds. Oh, and did I mention the historical landmarks? Like the Jones Point Light house dating back to 1855 that served as a warning light for naval ships approaching the Washington Navy Yard?
The historical significance of this area is amazing.
According to www.wilsonbridge.com, “Human use of Jones Point goes back to 7,900 B.C. and newly found archaeological evidence of Native Americans living in the area has dated occupancy much earlier than expected before theses studies”.We were also fascinated to learn about how, during WWI, Jones Point Park was transformed into a Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard to support the country’s desperate need for ships. The facility was sold in 1928 (after the war ended) and torn down soon after. An old wooden rudder is displayed as evidence of the shipyard.
The history is fascinating and all, but Ethan’s favorite part is the super-sweet playground equipment and other kid-friendly aspects of the park.
The park features a main playground surrounded by a fence and beautiful landscaping. It’s perfect for kids Ethan’s age and up, and is set on that rubbery-squishy flooring that it so fun to walk on (and doesn’t get stuck in your shoes like mulch!) Another climbing structure is just across the park, again fenced and safe. It’s for older kids, but Ethan still thought it was pretty darn cool. We also love the animal tracks set in the sidewalks.
Ethan and I visited Jones Point every day last week—we just can’t get enough of it! Walking along the Potomac in the morning, watching the planes fly in and out of Reagan National (Ethan yelling “A-eh” and pointing at each one) is so relaxing. We were sure to go early to avoid the heat…it’s been crazy hot and humid. The Peanut loves climbing the “Pirate Ship” to go down the tube slides all on his own. He rides the wobbly-shark-thingys (yelling “Shark!”), the dolphin teeter-totter, and the swings. Leashed dogs are allowed, which means Dewey gets to tag along too.
My tips for visiting Jones Point Park:
- Go early. The playground equipment is not covered or shaded, so it gets pretty uncomfortable after 10am on a hot day.
- Take some bug spray if you are prone to bug bites like me. With all the foliage and landscaping, mosquitos are bound to hang around.
- Don’t worry about potty breaks…there are shiny new restrooms!
- Parking is plentiful, pull right on in from Royal Street.
- Bring your stroller so you can walk the paths.
- Bring your dog but make sure you have a leash.
- This is a great launching point for bike rides. Park, unload, and take off on the Mount Vernon Trail.
Consider Jones Point for your next outing! It’s historical, educational, fun, family-friendly, and FREE!
My favorite part? No sandbox.