Glen Echo Park is an arts and cultural center in Glen Echo Maryland, a Washington DC suburb. Opened in 1891 the park is on approximately 9.3 acres of land and has two children's theaters, 13 resident and arts organizations, an aquarium, art studios, galleries, and many classes in performing arts, photography, painting, music dance ceramics, and others. Concerts, carnivals, workshops, festivals, and others, are hosted at Glen Echo Park. There also are recreational activities for everyone including families with children. Yearly Glen Echo Park attracts 400,000 to 500,000 visitors.

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What to do at Glen Echo Park?

There are plenty of fun activities and recreational spaces available for visitors of all age groups.

Picnic and Playground

Glen Echo Park has a picnic grove with tables and benches that cater to a maximum of 3o people. Sections of the picnic and playground area have trees that provide a much-needed shade when it's sunny. Families can picnic at the grove while watching their children play there or have parties for them there too. The picnic and playground tables and benches are available to visitors on a first-come-first-served basis. Among the regulations set by the management include that kids at the picnic grove have adult supervision at all times.

Take Classes

For visitors keen to learn a craft or a skill there are different classes to take a Glen Echo Park. This brings out a learner's creativity in a fun-filled environment. The classes offered at Glen Echo Park are:

  • Arts and Media
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Dance and Creative Movement
  • Fused Glass Artistry
  • Sculpture and Stone Carving
  • Silversmithing
  • Glass Blowing
  • Puppetry
  • Music
  • Pottery

Constructed in 1921 the colorful and artistic Dentzel Carousel allows visitors of all ages to enjoy a ride on this iconic and timeless structure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The carousel has a canopy and horses that rock up and down when visitors are riding on them while it rotates slowly round. Operational hours vary and visitors have to visit the website to know the times each month. Visitors can buy Dentzel Carousel merchandise like T-Shirts, posters, cutouts, and tote bags as a way to support it.

Costs:

  • $2 per ride
  • $5 for an all-day ride

Glen Echo Park Aquarium

Visitors eager to learn why the Chesapeake Bay, United States' largest estuary, and its watershed are important can visit the Glen Echo Aquarium. The aquarium provides awareness to visitors as to why conserving Chesapeake bay matters. The Glen Echo Park Aquarium has marine wildlife in a touch tank for feeling them, tiny fish ponds, a large sandpit, a pirate ship in a tree, and a submarine that helps visitors get educated about the Chesapeake Bay. Visitors also learn about the bay's rainy weather patterns and how they affect the marine wildlife there. Glen Echo Aquarium's interactiveness also helps children enjoy learning about the Chesapeake Bay marine ecosystem. In-person and virtual outreach lessons are offered to daycare facilities and schools plus birthday parties too. Glen Echo Aquarium's opening schedule is as follows:

Spring (March to May)

  •    Open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM but closed on Easter Sunday

Summer (June to August)

  •   Open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM

Fall (September to November)

  •  Open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM

Winter (December to February)

  • Open Monday to Thursday for field trips, appointments, and GEPA Video Classroom.
  • Friday to Sunday open from 11 AM to 4 PM and storytime on Fridays at 11:30 AM.

Entrance Cost:

  •  $8 General Public free for children below 2 years.

Social Dances

For over 100 years Glen Echo Park has hosted social dance events and classes at the Spanish Ballroom, Bumper Car Pavillion, and the Ballroom Annex. Among the social dances hosted there include salsa, contra, waltz, tango, zouk, and swing. That has made Glen Echo Park the standout dancing hub in Washington D.C.  Social dances are open to all ages and no experience or partner is needed. There is an introductory lesson for all dances and live music can be incorporated. The recommended dress code is casual and layers because of all the dance halls, only the Ballroom Annex is heated and air-conditioned. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited. Depending on the dance, tickets cost between $5 to $20 and are solely sold at the door. Information on the Social Dance schedule and COVID-19 vaccination policies can be found by visiting the Social Dances website page.

Watch Historical Films

On request visitors to Glen Echo Park can watch the following three historical films.

  • Civil Rights Video: A five-minute reel with a brief news story of Gwendolyn T. Britt a participant in the 1960s Civil Rights protests at the then-named Glen Echo Amusement Park.  The video reel has original audio and video from the protests.
  • Carousel of Memories: A 27-minute film by Baltimore's documentary filmmaker Cintia Cabib about the Dentzel Carousel. The film tells the stories of six people who have been involved with it and visitors for those years since its installation in 1921.
  • Glen Echo on the Potomac: An hour documentary produced by Kevin Wyrauch that chronicles the park's history since 1891 when it was the National Chautauqua of Glen Echo. The film has archival footage of old rides and games and interviews with civil rights protestors key to the park's desegregation on March 14, 1961.

Kids Activities

Art organizations at Glen Echo Park produce children's entertainment suited for families. The Puppet Co and Adventure Theatre MTC have puppet, music, and theater classes and shows targeted at children of different ages.

Attractions near Glen Echo Park

There are other attractions near Glen Echo Park worth visiting. These include:

  • Clara Barton National Historic Site
  • Great Falls Park
  • Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
  • Catoctin Mountain Park
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

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