Cabin John Regional Park: Nature Center, Trails, Playground & Much More

While you can visit all year long, Spring and Fall are particularly beautiful times to visit Cabin John Regional Park. Well, if you’re purely there for nature that is. The mature trees stand tall over the park allowing cool shade.

Cabin John Regional Park is such a popular family park and for good reason! There is so much to do there that once you’ve been, you’ll definitely go again.

Here I’ll share everything there is to do so you can plan a super fun day!

Covered Here:

What to See & Do
Nature Center
Hiking Trails
Picnic Area
Miniature Train
Other Amenities
Hours & When to Go
Getting There
Things to Do Nearby

What to See & Do

Cabin John Regional Park offers everything you want in an outing rolled into one.

From playgrounds and a train, ice skating and ball fields, to a nature center and hiking trails, the over 525 acres are designed to please event the pickiest family member.

Depending on where you want to spend your time, there are two entrances; one on Tuckerman Lane where the playground is and one on Westlake Drive for the train station.

Cabin John Regional Park welcome sign
Source: Montgomery Parks

Nature Center

Start your visit at the Locust Grove Nature Center located on Democracy Boulevard. To enter the Center you have to cross a bridge that is wonderful for young walkers and lends a sense of enchantment to your visit.

I was a little disappointed to see that the only live animals here were two snakes. Youngsters will enjoy the book nook, tree blocks, drawing with crayons and nature fact cards.

RELATED: 124 Things to Do With Kids in Maryland

There are also fossil prints and skeletons of animals to touch, stuffed animals and a neat indoor oak tree exhibit.

A door leads out back to an observation deck filled with tables for sitting, steps which leads to the Betsy Dotson Memorial Garden and a frog pond surrounded by bird houses.

Source: Montgomery Parks

You get the feeling you are in a tree house. There are clean restrooms which have changing stations in both facilities along with a water fountain.

The real beauty of Locust Grove is outside. Here lies a wonderful nature playground.

Hands-on activities include a babbling brook, sand area, tree stumps for jumping, wood carved animals to climb on and short trails with picnic tables. A permit is required for use of the fire pit.

The area can be reached via wooden steps and mulch surfaces. The nature center is not accessible. I would not recommend the outside area for toddlers.

Hiking Trails

There are five hiking trails ranging from .2 miles to 1.9 miles, some of which run along Cabin John Creek. However, none of the trails are stroller or accessible. Nearby is The Pauline Betz Addie Indoor Tennis Center.

Picnic Areas

There are numerous picnic areas for rental. All are covered shelters with grills. In the center is a water fountain and small swing set.

Restrooms are clean, but have no changing facilities.

Source: Montgomery Parks

Miniature Train

Always a big hit with family members is the miniature train at Cabin John Regional Park.

A replica of an 1863 C.P. Huntington, the train takes visitors on a 10 minute, two mile ride through the park.

Cabin John Regional Park train
Source: Montgomery Parks

The train runs every half hour from 10am to 6:00pm weather permitting from April to October on Saturdays and Sundays.

The cost is $3.50 for ages 2 and up, free for 2 and under.

The depot also has a separate party room available for rental.

A big kick for kids is the Hippo head water fountain and Porky, the talking pig, who eats your trash. The station is also a short walk from the playground.

Train tickets cost $3.50 and kids under 2 ride for free with a paying adult. Keep an eye out in the Spring for the Eye Spy Train event. Tickets for the ride are $5.


Action Playland is a huge playground with a mulch surface. It’s most suited for kids ages 2 to 8 year.

It’s a nice playground with:

  • Lots of climbing structures
  • 10 slides
  • Mazes
  • Swings
  • Play houses
By Kathleen Molloy

The playground can get pretty crowded, especially on the weekends (and as the playground is not fenced), it can make it somewhat difficult to keep check on little ones.

Toddlers will enjoy the Play Express train equipment complete with musical drums and blocks for climbing on.

The primary color trio slide scared my preschooler because it is so fast. However, there was plenty of other equipment for her to enjoy.

While there is a dog park, I saw dogs on a leash on the playground but of course different people on a different day and the experience can be different.

Source: Montgomery Parks

Within the playground, there is a gazebo and small covered picnic area.

There are single stall bathrooms available at the playground as well, however, there are no no changing facilities.

Other Amenities

Cabin John Regional Park also features an indoor ice rink, and lighted athletic fields, handball and volleyball courts and campgrounds.

It’s a good place to escape the city for a day of old-fashioned fun.

Source: Montgomery Parks

You can also get your zen on in the Tai Chi Court. A simple flagstone circle reflecting the yin/yang symbol.

While it’s located close to the picnic areas, it’s very quiet and serene.

They also feature a Dog Park for our furry friends

Source: Montgomery Parks

Hours & When to Go

Cabin John Regional Park is open from sunrise to sunset all year long.

There are some lighted courts and those are open until 11pm.

Getting There

Cabin John Regional Park is located in Bethesda, MD at 7400 Tuckerman Ln.

Things to Do Nearby

  1. Take a side trip to Locust Grove Nature Center and let the kids enjoy their programs and activities related to nature and wildlife.
  2. Hike to a waterfall at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve
  3. Hike the Billy Goat Trail A, Section B or Section C at Great Falls.
  4. For some summer fun, you may also visit Seven Locks Swim and Tennis Club.
  5. Stroll around Montgomery Mall which is just around the corner.

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OK Editorial Team

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