When I was a toddler, my parents used to take my brother and I to Oxon Hill Farm on a regular basis. Since that was decades ago, I thought it would be nice to head down memory lane and share the tradition with my own child. It was virtually empty when we arrived on a hazy, summer morning. Comfy shoes are a must as the walk from the parking lot to the dirt path to the visitor barn can be long.
Make the visitor barn your starting point. Here you can pick up a brochure to embark on a self-guided tour. In addition to some barns that have sheep’s wool to touch and antique agricultural equipment on display, the visitor center has a kids’ nook with books, puzzles, coloring pages and wildlife exhibits. The gift shop here also has books and a few toys along with a beverage machine. My daughter purchased a junior ranger passport and got her first stamp at Oxon Hill Farm. Clean restrooms with a changing table and a water fountain are located next to the Visitor Barn.
Rangers Allen and Stephen will gladly answer questions. They are passionate about the property. I found the history of the farm fascinating. The Debutts family left Ireland for England before emigrating to the U.S. The prominent family bought the plantation, which was at the epicenter of the War of 1812. Historical panels are found throughout the property explaining the history. The manor house is the oldest building on the farm dating before the Civil War. It is also the highest point of the farm. Follow the trail and you can see all of Alexandria and the Potomac River.
Goats and sheep were hidden with the exception of a baby goat who was in the chicken coop. We saw a pair of Belgian draft horses, cows, a pig, few chickens and baby goat. Up until 15 years ago, the horses brought the Christmas tree to the White House and the greenhouse grew plants for the White House.
The farm is easy to maneuver and not big enough that you will get lost. The daily schedule of activities is as follows:
- Meet the Dairy Cow at 10 a.m. Visitors can help milk the cow. This was a great experience that both my child and I got to do together.
- Chicken & Egg at 11:30 a.m. Grab some feed from the bucket and toss it on the ground to help feed the chickens. If the chickens produce any eggs, visitors can give the eggs to the pigs. Due to the fact that the farm is owned by the government, they are prohibited from selling or giving away the eggs so they recycle them by feeding the pigs.
Call ahead to check that confirm that the programs are occurring before you visit. Advance reservations for are required for groups of 5 more. Only open on the weekends from 2 to 3:30 p.m., the Mount Welby house tour was underwhelming. Two rooms on the first floor are open with the second floor exclusively for the park offices. There just really isn’t much to see.
There is a shaded area with picnic tables next to the parking lot. The farm is in close proximity to National Harbor if you choose to make a day of your visit to Maryland. Our favorite go-to in the area is for soft serve ice cream at Hovermale’s Taste Best on Livingston Road.
Signage is an issue when locating the park. If you’re driving to the farm from the VA side, you won’t see a sign directing you to the farm. The farm is really at the intersection of Oxon Hill Rd. and Bald Eagle Rd. Because we didn’t see the sign, we missed the turnoff, which was a bend in the road.
Oxon Hill Farm is open daily from 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m and closed on, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Admission and activities to the park and farm are free. While I would have liked there to have been more animals, it was still a great experience. Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm is a nice, low key place for families to experience life on a working farm.
Photos by Kathleen Molloy.