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Staycation: Glen Echo Park

March 2, 2012

Why visit a one-time amusement park, modern-day artists’ colony during the winter?

Because it’s somehow beautiful to see somewhere that is normally so packed with people, so strangely deserted.

Besides, Glen Echo Park isn’t just a summertime destination (although spring and summer are the only times you can ride the famous Dentzel Carousel; dating from 1921, it’s one of the oldest operating carousels in America).

You can still peek inside. But definitely come back in May for a $1.25 spin on a hand-painted, hand-carved animal.

If you can’t ride the carousel at Glen Echo, what can you do?

How about explore a range of local artistry, from potters and painters to glassblowers and jewelry-makers? Stop by one night for an old-fashioned community dance (swing-dancing, anyone?). Take your kids to a puppet show.

Or just wander aimlessly around and take in the vintage magic of this historic park. It makes you want to throw on your Pink Ladies jacket (T-Birds?) and go to a sock hop.

Or… just pretend you’re a child again. (We spent many a summer afternoon at Glen Echo when I was a kid. You know you’re a Washingtonian when…?)

The artists work out of various buildings on the property, including a scattering of small, strange-looking yurts huddled in one corner. Certainly a cozy place for an art class!

Also on the premises is the Clara Barton National Historic Site, where the American Red Cross founder lived during the last years of her life. Since my dad used to work for the Red Cross, I wrote more school papers than I can count about Clara Barton so I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for her. A house tour is free and the cluttered interior lets you believe that the home’s owner has just stepped away for a few minutes.

Glen Echo Park is just barely over the DC line into Maryland, but it feels worlds away. (Fun fact: Glen Echo is the smallest town in Maryland, which is funny since it borders DC.) Definitely stop by.

What are your weekend plans?

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 4, 2012 7:59 pm

    That is really amazing that the smallest town in Maryland borders DC. It’s amazing how fast you can go from city to… not! Looks like a beautiful place to visit. I love going places during the offseason!

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