While searching for a local place to go kayaking I came across the website for the Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Prince George’s County. The park was developed in 2000 and gives access to recreation along the shores of the Anacostia River.
Our family ventured down to the park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The murky Anacostia changed our minds about renting boats but the park itself was a pleasant surprise.
Located along a half mile stretch of the Anacostia’s headwaters, the Bladensburg Waterfront Park includes a playground, covered picnic pavilion, pedestrian bridge over the river and hiker/biker trails on both banks of the Anacostia. On the day of our visit the park was not crowded but several families were enjoying fishing off of the pier, playing on the playground and picnicking in the pavilion.
The highlight of a visit to this park is the free guided pontoon tour of the river (May through October). Boats leave Tuesday through Friday at noon and Saturdays and Sundays at 5pm for a 40 minute trip on the water. The Anacostia’s water is polluted and you will see some litter in the water but the wildlife that lives in and around the river helps to make this a serene experience in nature.
On our way up and back on the river we saw many turtles, ospreys, egrets, kingfishers, herons, and a bald eagle. The wooded banks provide a glimpse into what this area looked like before development and on a beautiful afternoon gave a peaceful backdrop to this trip along the water. The boat travels from Bladensburg to the National Arboretum in DC where it turns around to head back upriver.
Another high point for train lovers is an old B & O caboose car parked across the parking lot from the pier. This little red caboose is open for playing inside which my two girls loved! Not to be missed for adults are the interpretive plaques scattered throughout the park with interesting historical facts and anecdotes about the Bladensburg area dating back to Revolutionary War times.
Two sets of restrooms can be found in the park. One behind the Visitor’s Center (open daily 9am to 3pm) and another near the boat house. Baby changing stations are found only in the Visitor’s Center facilities. The park does not have much shade aside from the pavilion with picnic tables so may be best for a visit in spring or fall or on a cloudy summer day.
The Bladensburg Waterfront Park is host to many special events throughout the year including:
- Family Discovery Walk on October 8th and November 5th
- Anacostia River Clean up on October 22nd
- Summer Movies and Concerts
- Boat rentals are available weekends only from May through October 30th. Rates start at $5 an hour for county residents up through $12 per day. Canoe, kayak and fishing lessons are also available on site.
Branch out and visit someplace new with a trip down the Anacostia River and a picnic in Bladensburg, MD.
Photo by Kim Engstrom.