Best Playgrounds in DC: Updated For 2023

Playgrounds Washington DC

The 14 best playgrounds in DC are all free and organized by Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast updated for 2023. I put a Google Map of all the locations at the end of this post or go directly there here.

⛲️ Splashpads are at Guy Mason, Chevy Chase, Palisades, Turtle Park, Takoma, and Turkey Thicket and are marked below and the full DC Splash Pads blog post can be found here.

Best Playgrounds in DC

At the playgrounds where there are no restrooms, I link to a couple of car travel pottys that we use and highly recommend from Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no extra cost to you.

Northwest – Best Playgrounds in DC

1)  Guy Mason Community Center – Glover Park

guy mason rec center best playgrounds in dc

Kids and caregivers love this playground! Tons of cool features plus a large free parking lot at the Rec Center!

Unique features: Sandpit for littles and more challenging ropes and climbing features. Also the parking lot borders the Vice President’s residence which is so cool to see as you drive up! (What other playground can say that?!)⁣

🚻 Restrooms are at the rec center but not open yet to the public. We use this car potty for my 8 and 4-year-olds and loved this toddler car potty when they were younger. Also, lots of great restaurants and Trader Joes close by.
😷 We went on a weekday afternoon and wasn’t busy but even if busy, lots of different areas to explore.
🅿️ Free parking lot at 3600 Calvert St NW DC⁣.

⛲️ Splash pad! Check DCPR website for hours and opening dates.

Location: 3600 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20007

DC Parks Website: Guy Mason Community Center

2) Beauvoir Playground (Only Open Non-School Days)

dc playground - beauvoir playground

Unique, nature-inspired, challenging, terraced, and huge! This playground is a part of the National Cathedral Elementary school.

I found a tiny coin size sign that said the equipment is from a German company and it certainly feels European! I loved the challenging areas (and the fastest slide my kids have ever been on!!) and also little kid areas.

Favorite part? So hard to say, maybe all the areas for imaginative play (caves, rocks, etc), skiing stone gargoyle, the zip line or hearing all the different languages being spoken ✨ 

📍- 3500 Woodley Rd NW, Washington, DC 20016

⏰- On weekends or when school is not in session its open dawn to dusk. When school is in session during the week open to the public When school or camp is in session, the playground is open to the public from 6 p.m. to dusk.

🚻 – No restrooms so plan accordingly! 

🅿️ – About 25 parking spots right next to the playground. Also street parking and then a block up a little hill to reach the school. 

😷 – Lots of people on a beautiful weekend but so much room to spread out. 

♿️ – The entrance and all the terraced playgrounds have great ramps. Play structures are not wheelchair accessible. 


3)  Chevy Chase Rec Center

DC best playgrounds

Unique features: The Chevy Chase Rec Center or as my kids now call it, THE TOY PLAYGROUND! There are so many fun bikes, trikes, play kitchens and toys to play with! The splash pad was so much fun and the playground is really large.

🚻 – Clean restrooms with soap!
🅿️ – Street parking but lots of it even on a weekend morning.
😷 – Lots of kids and parents on a weekend morning but everyone was spacing out and lots of masks.
♿️ – Wheelchair and stroller accessible park but not the play structures.
🌳- Half shaded even in the morning!

⛲️ Splash pad! Check DCPR website for hours and opening dates.

Location: 5500 41st NW, Washington, DC 20015

DC Parks Website: Chevy Chase Rec Center

3)  Palisades Rec Center

Palisades Potomac Themed Playgrounds in DC

**September 2023 - Currently under renovation **

Tucked in the neighborhoods of the Palisades, this wonderful Potomac-themed playground is really fun! Huge climbing rock structure for big kids and tons of little kid areas to explore too.

Unique features: Potomac themed with long houses, the Potomac river and a canoe slide!

🚻 Restrooms are at the rec center but not open yet to the public. We use this car potty for my 8 and 4 year olds and loved this toddler car potty when they were younger.
😷 This was one of the busier parks we visited this winter. I would try to visit before school lets out if possible. There is a field next door to play in if too busy.
🅿️ Free parking lot!

⛲️ Splash pad! Check DCPR website for hours and opening dates.

Location: 5200 Sherier Pl NW, Washington, DC 20016

DC Parks Website: Palisades Community Center

4)  Macomb Rec Center – Cathedral Heights

Macomb playgrounds in Washington DC

I recommend this playground to many as its one of my personal favorite playgrounds in DC! It isn’t too busy with a separated big kid and little kid fenced areas, beautiful trees over the picnic area, and a huge baseball field. It has a great neighborhood vibe.

Unique features: Super tall slides for big kids, merry-go-round and swings for little kids. Love that they are separated by fences which I’ve only seen at Takoma and here. Also there is a unique “conveyer belt” feature that my kids loved!!

🚻 Restrooms are at the rec center but not open yet to the public. We use this car potty for my 8 and 4-year-olds and loved this toddler car potty when they were younger.
😷 We went on a weekend once and wasn’t even that busy!
🅿️ Only neighborhood street parking is available. We parked closer to the Cathedral for a 2 for 1 visit!

Location: 3409 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

DC Parks Website: Macomb Rec Center

5) Takoma Playground

Takoma Park Playgrounds DC

Big kids area with a triple slide!

My kids LOVE this playground! Nature woodland themed with a skateboarding area, fenced off big kids and little kids areas and TONS to do!

Unique features: 4 person (or 5!) sea saw, huge playhouse, triple slide great for races PLUS you can watch the metro 🚇 zoom by!

🚻 Restrooms are at DC Parks are not open yet to the public. We use this car potty for my 8 and 4 year olds and loved this toddler car potty when they were younger.
😷 Purely anecdotal but having visited dozens of playgrounds in the DMV this winter, DC has the highest % of ppl masking. 💯 at Takoma Playground when we went! Also different spots + fields to play in if one area gets too busy. ⁣
🅿️ Free street parking was easy to find on a weekday afternoon.

⛲️ Splash pad! Check DCPR website for hours and opening dates.

Location: 301 Van Buren St NW, Washington, DC 20012

DC Parks Website: Takoma Park Playground

6) Kennedy Recreation Center – Shaw, Northwest

Kennedy Recreation Center Playground Northwest DC

Huge, fenced playground area with multiple slides, obstacle courses, separate toddler play area, swings and some shade in the afternoon.⁣⁣

Unique features: Rainbow upside down see-saw!

🚻 Restrooms inside the center⁣⁣ but closed Sundays.
😷 Lots of kids were wearing masks⁣⁣.
🅿️ We walked from @DCAlleyMuseum but small parking lot at the Rec Center off P St. ⁣⁣

Location: 1401 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001⁣⁣

DC Parks Website

7) Turtle Park Playground - NW DC

Turtle Park Playground DC

Turtle Park is a gem of a neighborhood playground and is just a short walk from the Spring Valley shops and restaurants on Massachusetts Avenue, including Millie's, Compass Coffee, and Bluestone Lane.

📍- 45th St NW & Van Ness St NW, Washington, DC 20016⁣⁣

🚻 - Usually clean and conveniently located in the Rec Center building (exterior door is right across from the little kids' playground)

🅿️ - Street parking, but there are usually spots on 45th St NW if Van Ness is full⁣⁣

😷 - The playground is usually busy, but there's plenty of space to spread out

♿️ - Wheelchair and stroller accessible park but not the play structures

⛲️ - Splash pad!

More pictures and info at the DC with Kids Database entry.

DC Turtle Park Playground

8) Stead Park – Downtown

Stead Park Washington DC Playgrounds

**September 2023 - Still under renovation **

Great park to check out with your kids if you are downtown! 6 blocks north of the White House with a medium-sized playground, basketball court and huge soccer field.

Unique features: 2 different climbing walls for little and big kids and a standard playground. A $15 million renovation project started Summer 2021 to modernize the facility and bring it up to ADA standards.

🚻 Restrooms are at DC Parks are not open yet to the public. We use this car potty for my 8 and 4-year-olds and loved this toddler car potty when they were younger.
😷 Went on a weekend and were the only ones there! (it was cold?)
🅿️ Metered street parking only.

Location: 1625 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036

DC Parks Website: Stead Recreation Center

Northeast DC Playgrounds

1) Turkey Thicket Recreation Center – Brookland

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center Playground in DC

When I first published this list, I had multiple people tell me we had to visit Turkey Thicket and I am so glad they told me! This was such a fun neighborhood park with tons of structures, a great theme and some big shady trees for snack time. Bonus: just down the street from the Franciscan Monastery for a fun morning out!

Unique features: Train structure with lots of more challenging climbing features like a hill to get to the slide, in and outside of the train and a cool hill area with artificial grass. Splash ground should open after Memorial day.

🚻 Need to confirm restrooms are open in the recreation center.
😷 Everyone was wearing a mask when we visited in May.
🅿️ Large parking lot in front of center!

Location: 1100 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC 20017

⛲️ Splash pad! Check DCPR website for hours and opening dates.

Turkey Thicket Rec Center website here.

2) RFK Stadium – The Fields

RFK Stadium - The Fields Playgrounds in DC

The Fields Playground at RFK Stadium has been on my bucket list for a while now and it lived up to the hype! Located near soccer fields along the Anacostia River, all 3 of us loved this playground!⁣ The toddler area is off to the side of the bigger kids area which is great for multiple-age kiddos.

Unique features: Orb Merry Go Round was so cool! Hammock thing that we later learned from a very talented preteen, is meant for practicing surfing 🏄‍♀️ ! Tons of climbing structures and hills.

🚻 Restrooms are open!
😷 They are limiting the playground to 30 kids and have a fence around the whole structure so there is just one entrance/exit.
🅿️ Tons of free parking spots in Lots 6 and 7.

Location: 401 Oklahoma Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

RFK Fields Website here.

3) Rosedale Rec Center Playground

Rosedale Rec Center Playground - Mini White House

Mini White House!

One of the most unique playgrounds in DC with a mini version of the National Mall including the Capitol, White House, MLK monument, Hirshhorn, Air and Space and Natural History museum. They also have a cool musical instruments space that actually worked! And a huge picnic pavilion.

Please note: I spotted some unsavory drawings on the mini Lincoln monument…kids didn’t notice just a heads up!)

🚻 Restrooms are at DC Parks are not open yet to the public. We use this car potty for my 8 and 4 year olds and loved this toddler car potty when they were younger.
😷 Not busy at all even on a weekend.
🅿️ Found lots of street parking (free 2 hour) even on a Saturday afternoon.⁣♿️ Playground is accessible with wide lanes and ramps!

Location: 1701 Gales St NE, DC⁣

DC Parks Website: Rosedale Recreation Center

Rosedale Rec Center Playground - Air and Space Slide

Air and Space Slide!

4) Fort Lincoln Park (Non Traditional)

Fort Lincoln DC

Kids loved climbing on this pyramid!

Fort Lincoln Park is fantastic and a bit of a non traditional “playground.” I’m including it here because there is so much to explore, especially from ages 3 and up.

🚻 1 portable restroom in the fort (2 restrooms by the tennis courts but locked)⁣
😷 The Fort was empty on a weekday morning. Saw some people walking their dogs in other parts of the park. ⁣
🅿️ Free lot put plug in Theodore Hagans Cultural Center into maps for the parking lot. Once you park, go up the stairs behind the bathrooms to find the fort! ⁣Cultural Center is at: 3201 Fort Lincoln Dr NE, Washington, DC 20018

Location: 3201 Fort Lincoln Dr NE, Washington, DC 20018

Wikipedia page on Fort Lincoln’s history and DC Parks page on new projects at Fort Lincoln.

Southeast Washington DC Playgrounds

1) Pirate Ship – Anacostia River Park

Pirate Ship Anacostia Playground

The Pirate Ship Playground just across the river is a great, unique spot! It’s located in Anacostia Park SE right off 295, easy to stop by on your way into Maryland or DC. ⁣

Unique features: My kids loved playing on top and inside this super cool pirate ship! I loved the views of the river and an outdoor fitness station with 18 machines for adults to use while their kids play. The only downside is that since its only 1 play structure, we left a little earlier than our normal play time when the pirate ship got busy. ⁣

🚻 Bathrooms right next to playground (although I didn’t try them so cannot vouch for cleanliness!)⁣
😷 Was pretty busy on a weekend but room to spread out.
🅿️ Free parking lot! Type in “Pirate Ship Playground at Anacostia Park” into google maps to find the right parking lot. Don’t just go to Anacostia Park. There is no street address but the parking lot is off Nicholson Street SE. ⁣

Google Maps Link to Playground here.

National Park Service Website for Anacostia Park Pirate Ship Playground

Southwest DC Playgrounds

1) Hains Point – East Potomac Park

If you are looking for a playground with wide-open spaces, easy parking, restrooms and 2 playgrounds… check out Hains Point! It is located on East Potomac Park and is perfect for an outing with playground plus climbing trees, watching planes and going for a walk or bike ride.

Unique features:

🚻 Restrooms are open in the brick building behind the playgrounds. 
😷 Lots of space to distance. 2 playgrounds right next to each other so when one got a little busy (7 or 8 kids) we went to the smaller one)⁣⁣
🅿️ We drove all the way to the southern point of the park and parked in front of the 2 playgrounds near restroom #2. There were dozens of free parking spots available.

♿ Paths are paved and 2 lane one-way roads around the 3ish miles so would be great for strollers or wheelchairs. ⁣⁣

Location: Just type in Hains Point into your maps.

National Parks Website for East Potomac Park: Hains Point

Map of the Best Playgrounds in DC:

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Playground Gear We Love:

Favorite sun hat we’ve used for 6 years! (Originally from REI but found it on Amazon) 2,700, 5 star reviews with UPF 50 and Smart Strap.

Love these 3 layer kids masks from Dr. Talbot’s brand, very breathable but also 3 layers for my peace of mind and come in two different sizes for ages 2-5 year olds and 6-12 year olds.

We loved this travel potty for both my kids. You can use a grocery plastic bag or two instead of buying the expensive liners.

Fun to have a sand bucket and shovel in the car for the playgrounds that have sand pits (and this one has great carrying case)

More Lists of DC, VA, and MD Playgrounds

  1. Best Northern Virginia Playgrounds – 44 and counting in Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax!
  2. Best Maryland Playgrounds – 10 playgrounds and counting in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
  3. And finally, if you are looking for more Parks to explore that are great for kids but without playgrounds, check out my 26 Social Distancing Spots in the DMV!