Off The Beaten Path

Seven National Park sites you’ve never heard of

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to 54 National Park Service sites. These include parks, monuments, memorials, paths, parkways and historic sites. While some, like Shenandoah National Park in Virginia or the National Mall in Washington, D.C., are quite popular, there are many lesser-known sites throughout the region that are worth a visit. Learn more about seven of these hidden gems.

Greenbelt Park (Greenbelt, Maryland)

Greenbelt Park, nicknamed “The Urban Oasis,” is located just outside Washington, D.C. As it’s so close to the city, Greenbelt Park is metro accessible. Visitors can drive or walk the three miles from the College Park metro station to the park.

The park features a campground with 174 sites, a large picnic area, playgrounds and four hiking trails. The trails range from under a mile to just over five miles. Kids can visit the Ranger Station to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet. Once the booklet is completed, they earn the Greenbelt Park Junior Ranger badge.

Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm (Oxon Hill, Maryland)

The history of Oxon Hill Farm goes back to the early 1800s, when the property was the Mount Welby Plantation. The land was later purchased by the U.S. government and converted into a therapeutic farm for a nearby hospital. Today, the National Park Service manages the land as a way to preserve the agricultural history of the region. Visitors can explore this history by viewing the antique farming equipment in the Visitor Barn and touring the historic Mount Welby house.

This site offers hands-on opportunities to experience life on a farm. Visitors can feed the animals, learn how to milk a cow or enjoy a wagon ride around the fields. The park has two short trails and is also a great spot for picnics. Kids can visit the Kid’s Activity Corner in the Visitor Barn or complete the Oxon Cove Park Junior Ranger booklet.

Thomas Stone National Historic Site (Port Tobacco, Maryland)

This historic site preserves the home and land of Thomas Stone, one of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. The Thomas Stone National Historic Site  includes Stone’s historic home, called Haberdeventure, as well as farm buildings and a small family cemetery. Visitors can explore the land themselves or go on guided tours of the home.

Special programs occur at the site throughout the year. For those interested in a historical Independence Day celebration, the National Park Service hosts events on July 4th to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In December, visitors can visit the site to experience a colonial Christmas.

Continue reading this Chesapeake Bay Program article and learn about Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (Washington, D.C.), Steamtown National Historic Site (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Turkey Run Park (McLean, Virginia) and Jones Point Park (Alexandria, Virginia).

Trees in Autumn at Greenbelt National Park

Greenbelt National Park

Just twelve miles from Washington, D.C., Greenbelt Park is located in suburban Greenbelt, Maryland. The park features a 174 site campground, nine miles of trails, and three picnic areas.

Greenbelt, MD

Guests Gather and Listen to Presenter in front of Oxon Hill Farm House

Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm

Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Cove Farm provide an excellent resource for environmental studies, wildlife observing, fishing, and other recreational activities made possible by easy access to the Potomac River.

Oxon Hill, MD

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Thomas Stone National Historic Site

Visit the restored house and stroll the 322 acres of Haberdeventure, a "dwelling place in the winds". Purchased in 1770, this restored plantation home has been open to the public as a National Historic Site since 1997.

Port Tobacco, MD

Sewall-Belmont House & Museum

Sewall-Belmont House & Museum

One of the premier women's history sites in the country, the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum maintains an extensive collection of suffrage banners, archives and artifacts documenting the effort to win voting rights and equality for women.

Washington, DC

Train engineers and conductors stand in front of engine Nickel Plate 514

Steamtown National Historic Site

Steamtown NHS occupies about 40 acres of the Scranton railroad yard of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Scranton, PA

Turkey Run Park

Turkey Run Park

Turkey Run Park preserves a vertical slice of the Potomac Gorge ecosystem. A unique combination of flora and fauna makes a home in the park's riverbanks, flood terraces, upland forest, streams, and underground seeps.

McLean, VA

Jones Point Lighthouse

Jones Point Park

Jones Point Park is located on the Potomac River, just south of Old Town Alexandria. It was a critical piece of the city of Alexandria's history as one of the largest centers for shipping, manufacturing, and transportation in the nation.

Alexandria, VA

Rebecca Chillrud

Rebecca is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Bay Program. She has a Master's in Climate Science and Policy from Bard College and a Bachelor's in Geological Sciences from SUNY Geneseo. Originally from upstate New York, she currently resides in Washington, D.C.

May 17, 2018

Main image: Photo courtesy Chesapeake Bay Program, Will Parson
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