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The New Jones Point Park

The renovated park in the southeastern corner of Old Town is full of new features.

Have you been to Jones Point lately?

Jones Point Park is a beautiful yet often overlooked 65-acre green space in the southeastern corner of Old Town—with vehicle entry at the end of South Royal Street. The park, which features D.C.’s original southern boundary stone and a pre-Civil War lighthouse, consists of the area underneath and directly surrounding the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

My husband and I discovered Jones Point several years ago, shortly after adopting our dog. With her boundless energy, the semi-isolated green space and water access was perfect. We spent many weekend mornings at the point with fellow dog owners, coffee in one hand and Chuckit! in the other. 

Then one day, construction equipment showed up.

In November 2010, the Virginia Department of Transportation in coordination with the National Park Service initiated a major overhaul of the park as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project. Two long years later, the park is now open and full of new features.

There are now two really nice enclosed playgrounds. The larger of the two is located on the north side of the bridge, adjacent to the main parking lot. Featuring numerous swings and multiple maritime-themed play structures, butterfly-attractive flowers and ample park-bench seating, this lot is great for all ages. 

There is a smaller play area on the south side of the bridge that has a rope matrix and suspended rings for climbing, and a pipe-spring ring for bouncing.  The sidewalks leading to the play area feature fun animal tracks. My 3-year-old enjoyed the climbing area, but it is probably best for ages 5 and up.

While there isn’t a lot of shade at the playgrounds (trees are planted, but it will take a few years for them to grow), the bridge provides a nice refuge from the elements.  Under there, you will also find an information kiosk, bathrooms and a water fountain, two basketball courts, park benches, a canoe-kayak launch, a World War I–Era ship rudder display, extensive special-event parking and a criss-cross of bike and walking paths. It’s such a creative use of space!

Although eating fish from this area of the Potomac doesn’t sound the most appealing, I saw several folks with lines in the water. You’re most likely to catch catfish—and hotdogs and dough balls are popular bait. Believe it or not, Shortnose and Atlantic Sturgeon (which can grow to 14 feet!) used to be abundant in this part of the river. However, over-fishing in the late 1800s and early 1900s decimated the population.

Unfortunately, our unofficial dog park was lost in the upgrades. All dogs must be on a leash shorter than 6 feet in length, and are not allowed in the water.

The two athletic fields are still fenced off to help the grass come in, but should be a great spot for a game of soccer, Frisbee or kite flying. The historic lighthouse is totally renovated and the eroding shoreline is reinforced. Invasive plant species have been removed and the park’s wetlands are being restored.   

The new Jones Point Park is shaping up to be a great local green space.  Whether by car, bike, foot or kayak, I recommend you pack a picnic and go check it out.

Have you visited the newly-renovated Jones Point? What did you think? Tell us in the comments.

Bert July 21, 2012 at 01:09 PM
There is no excuse for how high they made the floating dock. A dock intended for kayaks should be floating much closer to the surface of the water than that one is.
JohnFitzgerald July 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Perhaps they can put a more accessible launch at the somewhat hidden dock where the bike path/Huntington towers parking lot/ and pedestrian underpass intersect? The water is shallower and much more calm there although might be too shallow during low tide.. Might be worth considering..
Jay July 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM
The 17 new interpretive markers is the most remarkable aspect. They culminate 15 years worth of research and documenting.
Amber July 23, 2012 at 01:31 PM
It is amazing! As a resident of Old Town Gardens on Washington St., I am thrilled to have quick and easy access to this gorgeous outdoor space. Every Alexandria resident should take the time to explore this park and learn about the history of Jones Point. Once the grass and plants grow, I plan to visit regularly with a blanket, my dog, and a good book (having a bathroom available make this much more enjoyable). It is obvious that the designers of this park really made an effort to anticipate visitor needs. I very much appreciate the dog water foundation! One word of caution for visitors: watch out for speeding cyclists. Although speed limit signs are posted, many cyclists choose to ignore them. Do not step a toe over the yellow line on the trail! Hopefully the ranger's presence will eventually deter speeding. Regardless, I HIGHLY recommend Jones Point and congratulate the construction/city/park service teams who made it possible!
Alex Supporter July 26, 2012 at 06:17 PM
A colleague who lives on Royal Street commented that the same dog owners who exercised their pets before the restoration are still there every day! Also, she said the unfortunately the great children's playgrounds (there are two) are so remote that she would not recommend a parent seek them out without several others nearby. They are not visible from the walking paths or docks. A former resident of Old Town used to track and publish crime reports based on information from the National Park Service; the list was never short - it pays to be alert. Let's hope the area stays free of graffiti and as enjoyable as it is now.

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