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Summer in Arlington, VA

It's no secret that I love photographing my kids on our summer adventures.  It's also no secret that the cost of living here is nuts, and finding free stuff to do is a priority for many of us!  My kids would gladly do two or three outings a day, so those $10/person activities add up fast!

This summer, I have a few goals.  I didn't pursue a 365 project (photo a day) this year, but I am working on one called 75 Summer Days - there are 75 days of summer vacation for elementary students in our district.  I also am working to get my kids out and about to soak up this summer, despite me working out of home a couple days each week.

And finding fun free places that are also fun to photograph?  WINNING.  My kids LOVE water play, so let's start there.

 Virginia Highlands is our favorite  Arlington Spray Park .  The parking isn't free but it's cheap.

Virginia Highlands is our favorite Arlington Spray Park.  The parking isn't free but it's cheap.

Did you know people with disabilities get a free lifetime National Parks Pass?  This activity isn't technically free unless you have a kid with a disability, but Great Falls isn't expensive and is worth it!  (Or hey, bring my kid!) While not really water play, it's great to be out by the water!

  Great Falls,  VA side.  There's a Maryland side, too!

Great Falls, VA side.  There's a Maryland side, too!

Two other places we love to splash around are Yards Park in DC and Our Special Harbor in Alexandria.  For Our Special Harbor, I recommend afternoons - mornings often have a long line! Our Special Harbor is fully accessible, but not a lot of shade.  Yards Park isn't super shady either, but the play area is one where kids are IN the water, not just a spray park, so it's cool on hot days!

 My kids splashing around at Yards Park.

My kids splashing around at Yards Park.

My final favorite water area is Potomac Yard Park.  There's almost NO SHADE, so go early!  The playgrounds are fully fenced in, although the fountain is not.  The fountain isn't as extensive as the others I've listed, but the playground is amazing.

For non-water activities, my kids LOVE the nature centers in Arlington.  At Long Branch, they got to feed turtles and at Gulf Branch, there's a big play area with American Indian displays and lots of learning opportunities.

 Caroline feeds a turtle at Long Branch.

Caroline feeds a turtle at Long Branch.

Don't forget the summer standbys of bikes and scooters and playgrounds.

 One of our favorite morning activities: Park at  Barcroft .  Bike or scooter to the big playground by the picnic shelter.  You might even see a turtle over by Four Mile Run!

One of our favorite morning activities: Park at Barcroft.  Bike or scooter to the big playground by the picnic shelter.  You might even see a turtle over by Four Mile Run!

Downtown, my kids love the Botanical Gardens and the American Indian Museum.  The latter has a great play area.  

Enjoy, and feel free to add your favorites in the comments!  Below, find some more of our 75 Summer Days!