March-April 2022

Outdoor spots to check out this spring

A colorful, inclusive park, and museum gardens ablaze with color

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Photo by Liz Lynch

Playtime for all

The kids on the swings at Clemyjontri Park are giddy with excitement as they arch toward the sky and then glide backward toward the ground beneath them. At this playground, all kids can feel that elation, including children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces. The McLean, Virginia, park was designed so children with physical, developmental or sensory disabilities can play alongside their peers.

The 2-acre playground is divided into four areas. The “Rainbow Room” has an archway made of colored metal bars, integrates braille and sign language, and features a variety of swings, including tire swings and others with high backs and armrests for kids who need extra support. There’s also a

Liberty Swing, which has a swinging compartment that allows wheelchair users to experience swinging without leaving their chairs. A “Schoolhouse” area includes a maze made of colorful panels. A transportation section features climbing structures shaped like cars, trucks, airplanes and other vehicles. Jungle gyms, slides and obstacles reminiscent of an American Ninja Warrior challenge course make up the last section. Paths and equipment openings are wide throughout the park, ramps lead to elevated platforms, and the ground is covered with a nonslip rubber surface, rather than mulch or grass.

A carousel runs from April through November ($3 weekdays, $4 weekends and holidays; tickets can be purchased online). There’s also a trackless miniature train ($3). Admission to Clemyjontri is free, and the park offers on-site parking, restrooms and plenty of shade.

Clemyjontri Park, 6317 Georgetown Pike, McLean, Virginia, 703-388-2807, fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/clemyjontri


Photo courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/photo by Erik Kvalsvik

Spring awakening

In spring, bright azaleas in shades of violet, coral and magenta set the gardens at Hillwood Estate ablaze with color. Located in Washington, D.C.’s Forest Hills neighborhood, the estate is the former residence of philanthropist and art collector Marjorie Merriweather Post, heir to the Post cereal empire and owner of General Foods Corp. She lived there from 1955 until her death in 1973.

In 1977, the property opened to the public as a museum. While Hillwood is known for its stunning collections of art, 18th-century French decor and Russian imperial artifacts, the property’s 13 acres of formal gardens are equally impressive. The grounds are divided into “garden rooms” with their own themes and connected by paths and walkways. The French parterre is like a scene from an 18th-century royal palace with its ivy-covered walls, fountains and curving boxwood hedges. Sculptures and whimsical statues—such as a pair of terra-cotta sphinxes with the heads of Marie Antoinette and one of her confidantes—await to delight visitors. A Japanese-style garden contains a cascading brook among Japanese maples, pagodas and footbridges. The grassy Lunar Lawn, with its 1960s-era patio furniture, was the setting for many midcentury lawn parties.

March is orchid month at Hillwood. The exotic flower was Post’s favorite. Inside the greenhouse, thousands of fragrant orchids bloom in deep purples, pale pinks and greens. Stroll outside and see hyacinths, daffodils and tulips, as well as a few cherry trees budding in the gardens. Visitors are welcome to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages for picnics or to purchase food from the on-site Merriweather Café.

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. $18; $5 ages 6-18; free for children younger than 6. 4155 Linnean Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202-686-5807, hillwoodmuseum.org