Leesylvania State Park

When one thinks of Woodbridge, it’s usually to go outlet shopping!  However, now that I’m letting a secret out about this area’s claim to fame, Woodbridge is worth a look.  Leesylvania State Park was known locally as Freestone Point, where early settlers gathered sandstone.  The park has several facilities that include a visitor center, natural sand beach, fishing pier, boat ramp, boat rental, five hiking trails, fitness stations, picnic area and shelters, playground and a group only campground.

Plan a Visit to Leesylvania State Park

Begin your day at the spacious visitor center.  I was happy to know that my leashed dogs were allowed inside.  Children can try their hand at colonial games, card wool, weave yarn on a loom, try on period clothing and see a model ship and spinning wheel.  A newspaper article from the summer of 1957 dubbed Freestone Point as the Washington area’s first luxury beach resort.  One mode of transportation was aboard the S.S. Freestone.

On display are one of the 100 slot machines aboard the ship.  Revolutionary war hero Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee’s father lived on the property with his family.  See a military uniform, civil war artifacts and a model shotgun representing duck hunting.   Throughout the property you can find remnants of what inhabited the property including a pulley, cannon, etc.

The other part of the visitor center is everything nature.  On display are a series of taxidermy such as beaver and deer.  You can feel the fur of these and other animals at the touch table, along with snake skins, bird nests, rocks including volcanic rock and crystals.

There is a display of feathers, which are not for hands to touch.  An interesting fact is that bald eagles are property of the federal government.  Did you know you can be fined up to a quarter of a million dollars if you find and keep a bald eagle feather?  Browse through books, make a craft and observe Bee Balm and Purple Coneflower which were sprouting from egg cartons during our visit.

Recreation at the Park

Live animals include a bullfrog, red-eared slider turtle and catfish.  My daughter saw a fish tank and said, “look, it’s Spongebob’s house.”  In fact, a school of fish “live in a pineapple under the sea.”  A park ranger is on hand to answer questions about the park.  The gift shop has souvenirs like butterfly pens, children’s nature books and penny candy.  There’s even a Keurig for your coffee and cocoa needs along with bottled water, canned soda ($1 each) and chips (.50).  Water fountains are located here and just outside the building are clean restrooms.

There is a small beach with shallow entry along the Potomac River.  During a weekday visit in the height of the August heat, the sand was particularly hot.  I recommend water shoes over flip flops not only for the sand, but also as the water is a bit rocky.  There are signs warning about drop-offs and currents so while the river waves are tame, exercise caution particularly with small children in tow.  Lifeguards are not present and there are no bath houses.  My child found a few seashells and several shells belong to crabs and snails.  I recommend bringing a cooler and picnic.  There is a shaded picnic area near the beach along with a well-maintained playground.

Several people were fishing on the pier.  Just remember you need a license to do this.  It’s kind of neat that when you walk across the middle of the pier you are in Maryland.  Rent kayaks, paddle boats and sailboats and even take sailing lessons on site from Woodbridge Sailing School.  While we didn’t see any, the area sees turtles, osprey and egrets.

Admissions and more info

Admission is reasonable at $4 on weekdays, $5 on the weekends, and $7 during the summer and holiday weekends.  If you’re out of state, add $2 extra.  Peak season is on the weekends from May to September.  While there is a lot of parking available, I advise getting here early.  Picnic and beach areas fill quickly.  Leesylvania State Park is not a one time occasion.  Throughout the year the park host Music at the Marina, ranger led hikes, kids fishing tournaments, scavenger hunts and more.  Cycling is also a great way to experience all that the park has to offer.

Photos by Kathleen Molloy and Google Images.

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