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Six area parks that should be on your summer bucket list!

The naturalist and biologist E.O. Wilson once said, “Just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us.” People fortunate enough to live in Virginia know this to be true, because every corner of our Commonwealth is bursting with natural beauty.

Here in McLean in Northern Virginia, Vinson Hall Retirement Community residents love being able to enjoy a day hike or time outdoors. Not only does a walk in the woods rejuvenate and inspire, it also offers a sense of well-being that keeps us all feeling active and vibrant. From the boost of Vitamin D for bone health to the cardiac benefits of lowered blood pressure, getting out and enjoying nature is vital for health and longevity.

In honor of National Park and Recreation Month, we want to celebrate all the natural beauty that is very nearby VHRC. Here are six of our favorite parks and natural preserves. If you’ve not visited them, be sure to add them to your list this summer!

  1. Great Falls Park, McLean: Part of the National Park System, Great Falls Park offers stunning scenery. Admire the falls, stroll along the river, or challenge yourself to a loop hike.
  2. George Washington Memorial Parkway: Running along the Potomac River from Mount Vernon to McLean, the Parkway offers a scenic drive with plenty of places to pull over for an idyllic picnic.
  3. Manassas National Battlefield: Walk through the historic locations of two Civil War battles – the First Battle of Bull Run and the Second Battle of Bull Run. After capturing the flavor of Virginia history, take the boardwalk near the Stone Bridge or enjoy a drive to Henry Hill and the visitor’s center.
  4. Prince William Forest Park: Located near Quantico (home of the famous Marine Corps base as well as the National Museum of the Marine Corps), this park is an amazing preserve of trails and streams. Come find “Virginia’s best kept secret” and explore the park via a splendid hike or scenic drive.
  5. Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park: Tucked away in Leesburg, this park offers a picturesque introduction to Virginia flora and fauna, as well as a stunning view of the Potomac River. You can also view several historic buildings in this “hidden gem.”
  6. Rock Creek Park: You might not think of nature in the heart of the nation’s capital, but this idyllic retreat along the Maryland state line (less than 10 miles from VHRC) is a must-visit for people in the region, with a variety of hikes and excellent bird-watching.

If you’re inspired and want to do more, the U.S. National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites in the United States. They span across more than 84 million acres, with parks in each state and extending into the territories, including parks in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.

Older adults are eligible for a lifetime Senior Pass to access any National Park—currently the National Park Senior Pass is only $80. No matter if you’re exploring near or far, always be open to new discoveries — in nature, life, and in yourself. Here’s to the great outdoors!

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