There are nine fully staffed nature centers, historic sites and a horticultural center within the Park Authority's 20,000 acres of managed open space. They are spread throughout the County and each one has its own identity with its own programs. Check them out!
Colvin Run Mill Historic Site
Colvin Run Mill, a historic restored 19th century mill on six bucolic acres between major population hubs, is the only operational water-powered gristmill in Fairfax County. It offers recreational and educational programs for all ages.
The beautiful mill is an engineering marvel, and its role in the history of the area is fascinating. A circa-1900 general store sells the corn meal and whole wheat flour ground at the mill. The old Millerís House, barn and blacksmith shop provide views into the life of the Millard family who ran the mill 100 years ago.
Frying Pan Park and Kidwell Farm
Kidwell Farm at Frying Pan Park preserves Fairfax County's rural heritage. With draft horses and tractors pulling plows through the same fields cultivated in the 1930s, this working farm demonstrates a major era in the transition to modern agriculture.
A vegetable garden at the farm provides produce for the table and dairy cows are still milked. Chickens, turkeys, pigs and sheep all contribute to the farm economy, just as in the 1930s. Nearby the farmhouse is a restored blacksmith shop, a milking house, a chicken coop, and a smokehouse.
Kidwell Farm offers school tours, educational programs and numerous special events. Farm animals and farm life are part of the many programs offered at Frying Pan. Watch for announcements of baby animals' births!
Also at Frying Pan is an indoor Indoor Arena, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, and an equestrian trail. Although Frying Pan Park does not rent horses or provide lessons, the arenas are available for local equestrians and riding instructors to use.
Green Spring Gardens Park
Green Spring Gardens Park serves Fairfax County residents and visitors by advancing the awareness and practice of gardening. The beautiful 26-acre site contains 22 demonstration gardens to inspire home gardeners on practical landscaping techniques that are appropriate for the Washington metropolitan area.
The site includes a horticulture center, a greenhouse, a two-acre native plant garden and a woodland path to several ponds. Spring flowering plants and autumn color punctuate remarkable year-round variety.
Green Spring is also a historic site with a circa-1760s historic house, a late 18th century spring house, remains of a historic landscape designed by Beatrix Farrand and an undiscovered early 19th century cemetery. Visitors to the Manor House will hear about the architectural and social history of the house. The Manor House also has a wide variety of wonderful programs in its lovely setting.
Hidden Oaks Nature Center
The nature center is located in the 52-acre Annandale Community Park, which has woodland trails plus butterfly and native wildflower gardens. Exhibits and programs at the center include live animal displays, natural and cultural history exhibits, a resource library and hands-on exhibits for children.
Among the stars at Hidden Oaks is a fine display of pink ladies-slippers, a spring woodland wildflower of increasing rarity. There is a wide selection of programs for all ages, as well as the many exhibits and hands-on explorations. Programs for groups--preschool and other school groups, scouts or others--can be arranged by reservations.
Hidden Pond Nature Center
Extensive woodlands, Pohick Creek, trails, beautiful scenery, quiet places and abundant wildlife are all features of this park. Facilities include the nature center with aquatic animal exhibits, nature trails, pond, tot lot and picnic shelter.
The variety of habitats at Hidden Pond makes this a wonderful place for finding wildlife, insects and "creepy crawlies." Many birds, large and small, can be found in the park and viewed from the balcony of the center itself. Wildflowers abound all year round.
Huntley Meadows Park and Visitor Center
Huntley Meadows is Fairfax County Park Authorityís largest park (1,428 acres). It includes wetlands, forests, meadows, streams and ponds. It has resident deer, beaver, heron and other animals. The park is a favorite with families, with so many natural aspects on view. A regional birding hotspot, visitors can see a large number of species at almost any time of the year. See our NatureFinder feature to discover when and where to find birds and wildflowers there.
A star attraction is the wetlands boardwalk and observation tower. Along this winding interpretative trail are turtles, lizards, ducks, snakes, beavers, woodpeckers, raptors, aquatic plants and much more to discover. Facilities also include a visitor center, an auditorium and exhibits, as well as woodland trails. Programs for groups can be made by reservation.
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park and
Walney Visitor Center
This 600-plus acre park has a variety of natural, cultural, and recreational features. The Visitor Center interprets local natural and cultural history through exhibits, publications and frequent programs. An orienteering trail and other self-directed options are also available. The center also has a small sales area, some live display animals and a touch table for children.
In addition to landscaped grounds, the site also has several miles of trails, demonstration gardens, a pond, streams, a forest, and meadows. Please contact staff for more information about our facilities or program calendar.
Enjoy rambling over two miles of trails right along the Potomac River and across the 409 acres of forest and meadows. Discover spectacular wildflowers, wonderful migratory birds and raptors, and the timeless river full of life and history. Use our NatureFinder to see what birds and flowers are around when you visit.
New this year are kayak trips that take off from the boat launch. At the Visitor Center, learn about the local river geology or participate in one of the many guided hikes, both day and evening. There is a picnic area as well as tables for visitors.
Sully Historic Site
Sully, built in 1794, is the home of Richard Bland Lee, Northern Virginia's first representative to congress. The house itself is augmented by a restored kitchen/laundry, smokehouse, stone dairy, formal and kitchen gardens and a representative slave quarter.
Tours of the handsome Federal period house and its furnishings are held regularly, and many programs explore various aspects of the house and the period. Civil War-period living history programs are held, along with outside walking tours of The Forgotten Road, major events like the annual Quilt Show and Sale and programs for scouts and school children.