Stay Active With These Winter Walks Around DC

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Plus, how to stay warm while you workout

Winter Walks Around DC

Slip on boots and head out for a peaceful winter walk. Here are four good destinations.

Seneca Creek State Park

11950 Clopper Rd., Gaithersburg

More than 50 miles of trails provide a walk for any age at the Gaithersburg park. The 1.2-mile Great Seneca Trail traverses woodlands, while the Lake Shore Trail encircles Clopper Lake for 3.7 miles. A playground features an obstacle course, swings, and a dragon—all made of tires.

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

1550 Anacostia Ave., NE

Photograph by M. Marquez/NPS.

Calling all birders: About 240 species have been spotted in DC’s Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, according to the Maryland Ornithological Society. Wandering along the River Trail or the boardwalk could lead to sightings of great blue herons, soaring raptors, and quacking ducks.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna

Photograph by Dennis Govoni.

Stroll through 95 acres filled with gardens, gazebos, and lakes. Spring offers cherry blossoms and fall has colorful foliage, but the park highlights winter’s often-overlooked beauty with a collection of tall conifers, bell-like Lenten roses, and red-twig dogwood.

National Zoo

3001 Connecticut Ave., NW

Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Walk on the wild side at the zoo, where some animals opt to hang outside when there’s a chill in the air. (You can also pop into heated indoor exhibits.) Winter may even be the best time to visit the pandas: The bears tend to be more active this season because they hail from a colder climate.

How to Stay Warm Outside While You Workout

Photograph by Garrett Hoppin.

Just because there’s a chill in the air doesn’t mean you have to be confined to a gym or fitness studio. DC personal trainer Katie Collard shares advice.

Wear the Right Clothes

Like any winter outfit, you’ll want an insulated layer and an outer shell to protect from the wind. When you’re adding sweat to the equation, select a base layer that wicks moisture and keeps you dry. Collard also says a common faux pas is forgetting gloves. Your extremities are the first to get cold, so she recommends thick socks plus hand warmers.

Do a Longer Warmup

The goal of warming up is quite literally to raise the temperature of muscles so they’re flexible and primed for strenuous activity—and less prone to injury. Because cold can tighten joints and muscles, add a few extra minutes to your stretching and warmup, says Collard.

Implement Hot-Weather Practices

We get it: When it’s overcast and cold, slathering sunscreen is the last thing on your mind. But you can still burn in winter, so don’t forget to apply some SPF. Collard notes it will also help protect your skin from the drying cold air. Another summer precaution not to skip? Drink plenty of fluids.

Team Up With a Workout Buddy

Warm bed + brisk weather = the perfect excuse to skip a workout. A partner can help with accountability, encouraging you to head out for some frigid fitness. Whether you’re running side by side or going to an outdoor class together, socializing adds motivation.

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Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers, $28

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Photograph of Rechargeable Hand Warmers by Garrett Hoppin.

Photograph courtesy of retailers.

This article appears in the December 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Daniella Byck

Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.

Jessica Ruf

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