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Long Bridge Park: An urban green oasis

By Luke Fichter

Nestled just north of Crystal City and a stone's throw from the bustling I-395, Long Bridge Park is more than just a green space—it's a vibrant, 36-acre haven of recreation, environmental stewardship, and community gathering. Once an overlooked area, the park today stands as a testament to innovative urban redevelopment, seamlessly blending high-quality sports facilities with expansive public green spaces.

Upon entering Long Bridge Park, visitors are greeted by the state-of-the-art Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, a symbol of the park’s commitment to accessibility and healthy living for all. Adjacent to this modern facility are three full-size, lighted synthetic fields, known collectively as Boeing Field #1, which serve as the proud home for Marymount University’s soccer and lacrosse teams. These fields buzz with energy and competition, showcasing the park's dynamic sporting spirit.

A walk along the nearly ¾-mile Esplanade offers more than just exercise; it provides panoramic views of the Potomac River, the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, and national monuments. It's a place where locals can be seen jogging, families picnicking, and birdwatchers peering through binoculars in hopes of catching a glimpse of local wildlife.

For younger visitors, the park features two distinct playgrounds. The southern playground includes an innovative interactive fog area, a unique feature that ignites children's imaginations and cools them down on hot National Landing days.

One of the park’s most striking features is its dedication to environmental sustainability, embodied by the three-quarter acre rain garden. This garden captures runoff from the park’s fields and parking lots, filtering it through a lush landscape of native plants. This not only mitigates stormwater impacts, but also serves as a living classroom for ecological education.

Adding a layer of cultural richness, Long Bridge Park displays three works by nationally recognized artist Doug Hollis. Among them, Wave Arbor stands out with its kinetic wing-like structures that dance with the wind, casting ever-changing shadows by day and glowing rhythmically at night.

In recognition of its excellence, Long Bridge Park was honored with the Best New Facility Award by the Virginia Recreation and Park Society in 2012, a fitting accolade for a place that offers so much to so many.

Whether you're a sports enthusiast, a family looking for a day out, or simply someone in search of a peaceful spot to reflect and unwind, Long Bridge Park invites you to explore its many paths. As the seasons change, the park evolves, always offering a new experience to enjoy, right in the heart of our bustling region.