April 14, 2016
We are more than halfway through our time in Arlington. We have taken advantage of the numerous programmatic, educational, and recreational resources offered by the county. Previously on the blog, I have written about the county's nature centers, bicycling and car-lite living in Arlington, and Roosevelt Island. Here are two other things I like about Arlington: neighborhood signs and "Potomac overlook" parks.
We have visited two of the nature centers located in the county -- Long Branch, managed by Arlington County Parks & Recreation, and Potomac Overlook Regional Park, managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. The other county-run nature center is Gulf Branch which we have yet to visit. Read about our Potomac Overlook walkabout.
We are an outdoor family so park adventuring is always high on our to-do list. The eastern edge of Arlington County sits on the Potomac River across from Washington, D.C. The Potomac Heritage Trail runs along the river. This amenity is on our to-do list. Upland of the river are several overlook parks including Fort Bennett Park (see above photo), Fort CF Smith Park, Windy Run Park, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, and Donaldson Run Park. A bounty of verdancy!
Full disclosure: we own a car. However, we mostly walk. And when it is really nice (fall and soon, spring), I bike. Arlington's program to promote transportation alternatives is known as Car-Free Diet. The materials are displayed in many places. I have seen publications in public spaces -- at branch libraries and other county buildings -- and in private spaces, too, such as in shops and restaurants, Also, new residents receive these materials by postal mail. My younger child rides on my bicycle and my older on his own or on a scooter, both of which he has outgrown this year. I wouldn't mind a family bicycle but the models that seem like a good fit are out of our budget! Read my bike story.
As we approached our neighborhood for the first time last August, one of the first things I noted was its sign. I've since learned that this is not unique to our neighborhood. "Neighborhood signs give a community an identity and instill a sense of pride among residents," from the Neighborhood Signs Program website. Forty four neighborhoods have signs. You can see all 44 signs on this online gallery. Each sign highlights a historic or natural element or the urban form of the neighborhood. For example, the Penrose neighborhood sign features a streetcar. Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, trolley cars ran through the neighborhood along South Fillmore and Second Streets.
One reason I like the island is that the only land access is via Arlington County. (The island has a DC address.) There are many features of the island we like. The boardwalk is a great place for a sprint(er). You can get down to the Potomac. You can see Georgetown and DC. You can watch people kayaking, canoeing, and partaking in other water sport on the river. It is great to feel small among woodlands. We like to observe the ducks in the freshwater tidal marsh. Finally, it was the first place we took note of bald cypress knees. Read about our winter visit to the island. Another National Park Service site in the Potomac is Lady Bird Johnson Park.
We don't have a formal list in case you are wondering. During each week we talk about what we'd like to see during the weekend. We are open to suggestions!