Veterans Day gives us all a chance to honor and thank the many men and women who have served our country in the U. S. Armed Forces. Local and national parks are taking this opportunity to add their thanks with free admission to sites throughout the area.
US National Parks
National Parks across the country are honoring veterans with free admission for all visitors; the last fee-free day in 2017. There are several national parks in Northern Virginia, all of which normally have admission fees that will be waived on November 11th.
Great Falls is a popular park for tourists who want to explore nature and history close to Washington DC, and it’s also a favorite for locals. The park offers excellent hiking, and provides good, wheelchair accessible views of the falls from several overlooks. The Visitor Center features displays and movies about the park’s interesting history, including George Washington’s role in the creation of the Potowmack Canal.
Veterans Day and Community Appreciation Day are both celebrated on November 11th this year, so both Adams County residents and military veterans will enjoy free admission to the Cyclorama, Film and Museum Experience at Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center and at the David Wills House. Active duty military receive free admission year-round. Plan your visit to historic Gettysburg.
Manassas Battlefield preserves the site of two important Civil War battles, looking much as it did during the time of the conflict. Accessible activities include visiting the excellent displays at the Visitor Center and visiting battle sites on the 20 mile self-guided driving tour. We enjoyed hiking the 5-mile First Manassas loop trail, and a similar 6-mile trail follows the Battle of Second Manassas.
Most of the Fall foliage will be past peak, but the views along Skyline Drive are as spectacular as ever. If time allows, stop at the accessible Byrd Visitor Center to learn more about the history of the park. The Byrd Visitor Center closes to weekday visitors at the end of the month, so November is a great time for a final Autumn visit.
37 miles of beautiful hiking and a 12 mile scenic drive immerse you in nature at Prince William Forest. Biking is another popular way to explore this Northern Virginia hidden gem. Take time to learn about the interesting history of the park, from it’s use as a CCC-built camp for under-privileged city children to a training camp for spies.
In honor of Veterans Day, George Washington’s Mount Vernon honors those who served our country with a day of special programming. All active duty, former or retired military personnel are admitted to the estate for free and are welcome to place a flower at Washington’s Tomb, where a wreath laying ceremony will be held by Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. Mount Vernon will also host patriotic performances by the Harmony Heritage Singers and the United States Air Force String Orchestra. 9:00 – 4:00.
Sky Meadows, in western Loudoun County, also offers nice hiking trails and beautiful views across the Piedmont Valley. On November 12th, the park will host a fundraising 5K to support the Wounded Warrior project. Advance/regular registration for the 5K is $25/30.
The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA ) is also honoring veterans with free admission to military personnel and their immediate families at all nine Rec Centers. Pools, spas, gyms, and racquetball courts are all available at no charge for the day (amenities vary by center).
Why not honor your favorite veteran with a park visit?