The last mile of a long hike goes by so much faster when there's a great meal to look forward to at the end. Vice versa, a burger or a slice of pizza tastes that much better after putting in the miles on a trail.
Here are seven beautiful parks to explore close to Washington, D.C. and the nearby restaurants where hikers can grab a bite afterwards to replace any expended calories. Keep reading for tips on how to get out into nature — but not so far out that a fish taco isn’t within reach.
The hike: Billy Goat Trail
One of the most popular trails right near D.C., the Billy Goat Trail winds along the Potomac bypassing a pretty beach (swimming is not advised) and a rock scramble that gets a bit challenging. The trail spans eight miles, but attempting individual sections is always an alternative. Try to make it here early to beat the crowds.
Lunch: Old Angler's Inn
This Potomac restaurant is a total classic (it's been in operation since 1860), and the patio is a beautiful place for a beer and a burger. Luckily, one won't feel out of place in athletic clothes here, post-hike.
The hike: Potomac Heritage Trail
Perfect for a long run or leisurely walk, pick up the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail near Glen Echo Park or scenic Great Falls, Maryland.
Lunch: Fish Taco
This local taqueria isn’t far from the trail (it’s near Lockhouse 11). Try to end any run or walk nearby and consider that license to order beer-battered fish tacos or a rice bowl along with an order of chips and queso.
The hike: National Arboretum
The United States National Arboretum encompasses 446 acres of flora and fauna right within D.C. limits, which is perfect for car-less city dwellers. Get dropped off in an Uber and then explore trails meandering through the arboretum’s Fern Valley, Asian Collections, Azalea Collections, and National Capitol Columns.
Dinner: La Puerta Verde
New D.C. restaurant and bar hub Ivy City is just around the corner from the National Arboretum. Stop in to the newish La Puerta Verde for guacamole with lime and serrano peppers, and al pastor tacos, chased down with white sangria.
The hike: Rock Creek Park
Escape the city without leaving D.C. at all: there’s plenty of hiking trails to explore right in Rock Creek Park. The newest is Klingle Trail, 27 years in the making, located just east of the intersection of Klingle and Woodley roads NW.
Lunch: Bread Furst
Eat all the croissants, honey-glazed doughnuts, and ham and cheese baguettes at Bread Furst, the stylish bakery from James Beard award-winner Mark Furstenberg.
The hike: Sky Meadows
The vistas of Virginia’s rolling hills and farmland are incredibly lovely, and there are many trail options to choose from at Sky Meadows. Say hi to Appalachian Trail thru-hikers and friendly chickens at the historic farm.
Lunch: Barrel Oak Winery
This family-friendly Barrel Oak Winery is also extremely dog friendly, making it a perfect stop for furry hiking companions. Most weekends, food trucks are on hand to serve up eats like wood-fired brick oven pizza. Or check out Red Truck Rural Bakery in Marshall, Virginia, which once hosted President Obama.
The hike: Sugarloaf Mountain
Drive out near Frederick, Maryland for a fairly relaxing hike to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. The trails can get crowded, which is understandable considering how gorgeous the views are from the peak.
Lunch: Rockwell Brewery
The hike: Old Rag Mountain
Dinner: Burgers ‘N Things
Cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes await at this quaint roadside stand in Sperryville, Virginia right near Old Rag. Feeling pizza instead? Hit the Brick Oven at Black Bear Bistro in nearby Warrenton.