Has there ever been a time in your life, when you wish that you could “be 16 again, even if just for a moment?” I recently had to deal with one of these episodes, as I tried out my skateboarding skills at Van Dyck Park. There’s a large skating area with half pipes, and ramps inside an enclosed steel cage. Obviously, I’m not going to be confused with any professional skateboarder, as I quickly fell on my rump, and left with my “tail between my legs.” Yet for younger folks, this is perhaps the only designated skating area in Northern Virginia. Instead of being chased away, skaters are encouraged to hit the pavement, or if they have the guts, to catch air on the ramps. Sometimes bikers join the fray, and while the banging of the boards and God knows what else can be loud, I’m glad to see young people doing something that involves physical activity.
Van Dyck Park is the City of Fairfax, Virginia’s largest, and there are a whole bunch of recreational opportunities here. While I wish the “rocket ship” that I used to play on as a kid was still there, and that a pond or lake was on the premesis, it does have a lot to offer. In addition to the skating ring, there’s a lot of playground equipment here. Most of these are made of industrial plastic, and have slides or twisting pieces that can be manipulated by small hands. My son particularly likes the fake baseballs that you can move around, and the swings here are hard to beat. You can get really high in the air, and for those with little ones they do have the type that their legs can be put through for extra security. The merry-go-round will get you dizzy, and for those who appreciate calmer activities, sit in the sandbox. A castle is waiting to be built, and its not uncommon to see a lot of parents over here with their small children.
Feeling like playing hoops or tennis? Knock yourself out, as the basketball court here is in top shape, although the green color is a bit odd. Teams can form wit hease, and the tennis courts are well maintained. They are next to the parking lot, behind the tree line, and it can get a bit “competitive down there.” The best spots are right on the Old Lee Highway side, as this is where the volleyball courts are located. Filled with sand and having brand new nets, familes and their friends can “rotate and serve the ball.” Its a lot of fun to spend a couple of hours doing this, along with being a fine way of keeping in shape.
After engaging in these activities, or going on a hike on their well manicured tree lined trail, stop by the large pavilion up front. Here there are charcoal grills, or you can bring a portable one from home if you like. This shelter is fantastic for birthday parties or get-togethers, as there are over twenty picnic tables underneath it. Its the place to go on hot days for shade, and water fountains are available to help quench your thirst. There’s a smaller pavilion further away if you want a bit of privacy, and another small playground by this area that’s close to University Boulevard. The fields in this park are great for “pick up soccer matches,” and if its snowing, the hills here are among the best for little ones and their parents to either go sledding or skiing. Unfortunately, there’s no lift back up, but its a lot of fun.
I cannot recommend this park enough, and admission is free to all who want to visit it. Many come from a fair distance away, because its one of Northern Virginia’s safest facilities. This is because its located right next to the City of Fairfax Police Station, and in all my years of going here, I’ve seen nothing more than a bit of “teens exchanging words.” That’s why I feel comfortable recommending it to parents, and there’s a regular group of parents that hang out here, so you can make friends easily. The address for Van Dyck Park is 3720 Old Lee Highway Fairfax, VA 22030. You can reach the Recreation Department in charge of it at 703-385-7858, and its the perfect place for a day of clean, old fashioned family fun.