Anacostia Park

Anacostia Park

Whether you exercise along the river trail or relax by the water, Anacostia Park is a breath of fresh air and a space to unwind amid a bustling city. A unit of the National Park System, the park consists of 1,200 acres along 5 miles of the Anacostia River shoreline from the Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge north to the DC/MD line.

This urban park, once the home of Nacotchtank Indians and later prosperous farmers, is now a multi-use recreational park with extensive shoreline access. Relaxing comes easy here. Stretching along the Anacostia River are miles of recreational opportunities including basketball and tennis courts, open fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, a skating pavilion, a fitness center, and much more!

The Anacostia River is recognized as a significant, but somewhat ignored, Bay tributary in the Nation's capital. The park represents a large portion of that resource, providing extraordinary shoreline frontage.

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Image Credit: Anacostia Park


Anacostia Park is open daily during daylight hours. The park is closed on January 1, Thanksgiving, and December 25.

Free skate rentals are available at the skating pavilion on weekends and holidays beginning Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27). During the summer when school is not in session skate rental is seven days a week. Starting August 20th, free skate rentals are available every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day.
Weekdays: 10:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Weekends: 11:00 a.m. - 6:45 p.m.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


Anacostia park is free to visit.

Permits and reservations are required for some activities in the park, including certain types of organized activities and large gatherings.

Picnics are on a first-come first-served basis. All picnic tables and the park node picnic gazebo area (Enter on Nicholson st. NE) are on a first-come first-served basis as well.


  • Covered Skating Pavillion: Roller skates are free to check out with a valid I.D. from Memorial Day though Labor Day between 11:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m weekdays, and 11:00 a.m to 6:45 p.m weekends. Skates are available at the pavilion, but call the park ahead of time at (202) 472-3884 to ensure availability.
  • boating
  • fishing
  • picnicking
  • sports and other activities
  • wildlife watching
  • swimming pool


The name "Anacostia" is a latinization of the Algonquian name "Nacotchtank." When Englishman John Smith explored the area in 1608, the Nacotchtank Indians were the primary residents of the Anacostia River's eastern shore.

Established by the federal government in 1799, the Washington Navy Yard was a major shipbuilding and shipfitting facility on the Anacostia River. On August 24, 1814, British troops marched into Washington, D.C., and set fire to the city's public buildings. Fearing that the British would capture ships, ammunition, and important supplies stored at the Navy Yard, U.S. Commodore Thomas Tingey ordered American forces to burn it down. The Navy Yard was rebuilt after the war. Visible from Anacostia Park, it continues to operate today as a U.S. Navy facility.

The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is the only National Park Service site devoted to the propagation and display of aquatic plants. The Gardens were begun as the hobby of Civil War veteran and operated for 56 years as a commercial water garden. In 1938, the Gardens were purchased by the Federal Government. It was at that time that the facility ceased operating as a commercial enterprise and became part of the National Park system.

Reeling from the effects of the Great Depression, a large group of World War I veterans marched to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1932 to demand the immediate payment of a wartime bonus. Nearly 11,000 marchers established a camp at the Anacostia Flats (present-day Anacostia Park), where they created shanties from cardboard boxes and scraps of wood.


Last updated: May 18, 2022
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