301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Today I’m sharing about on of our favorite places! Watkins Park is an amazing FREE park run by PG Parks and Rec and in my opinion it is probably one of the best playgrounds you will ever visit. It is a true destination playground – 100% worth the drive from wherever you are. We are lucky to be just 15 minutes away and visit often. Besides its incredible playground, Watkins also offers miles of shaded paved walking trails, tons of covered picnic areas, an aviary, and Old Maryland Farm. Pre-Covid there is also a free nature center with reptiles and other animals (you can still check out the snakes by looking through the window!), a train ride, carousel and a mini golf course!
The playground at Watkins is one of PG County’s Imagination Playgrounds. It has a Wizard of Oz theme and IT. IS. EVERYTHING! The attention to detail they put into creating this park is stunning. From the yellow brick road that leads you to the playground, to the Emerald City, flying monkeys in the forest, ruby red slipper slides – every time I go I notice something I hadn’t before, and we go a LOT! The design of this park is just as fun for adults as it is for kids. The playgrounds is HUGE and is situated entirely on colorful rubber play surface (designed with flowers and rainbows) It has 3 main giant play structures, swings for all abilities and several other areas to play including a musical feature and a playhouse made to look like Dorothy’s house. There is a large grassy area behind the playground and several picnic pavilions.
This park can get VERY busy so if you are avoiding busy playgrounds, the key is to get here EARLY (these pictures are from 8:30 am.. perks of my early risers, lol) Even pre-covid I tried to avoid this park during peak times bc my girls are so little and Watkins attracts kids of all ages – there is no separate tot lot so on busy days my girls get a little overwhelmed with all the big kids running around. If you can get there when it’s empty or close to it, the playground is manageable on your own. But on busy days I don’t like to come here without help because it can be tough to keep track of everyone when I’m outnumbered!
We like to start out at the playground and once they’re done we go down the walking path to check out the aviary. There are hawks, owls, a raven and a turkey buzzard. Just past the aviary is an entrance to 2 different natural surface hiking trails. We have not hiked here yet but there are several hiking trails to choose from and we hope to try them soon!
After the Aviary, we like to walk on the deck around the nature center. There are two small ponds outside and pretty gardens in the spring. I can’t wait for the nature center to re-open because I know my girls would love it! Right now they just love looking in the windows at the snakes and lizards. We also found a trail through a butterfly garden – excited to come back and check this out when everything is in bloom!
The other main attraction at Watkins Park is Old Maryland Farm. It is located across from the playground, behind the mini golf course and carousel. The farm is open year-round Tuesday-Sunday from 11-4 (this is a great winter outing!) This farm is small but the perfect size for little ones! It is one of our go-to places when we are looking for an easy outing that everyone will love. It is about a 5 minute walk on a paved trail from the main parking lot. There are bunnies, chickens, peacocks, pigs, turkeys, geese, sheep, goats, cows, donkeys, ponies and horses. There is a paved trail that goes through the whole farm area that takes you past each animal. We tend to get there right when they open at 11 am and in our experience the farm area is usually pretty quiet and I can let the girls run around on their own and spend as much time as they want.
Watkins Park Playground Breakdown
🚽 Bathrooms 🚽: Several permanent public restrooms (one in playground parking lot, one in the playground area, one in the building near mini golf
👩👧👦Solo w/ kids?👩👧👦: I really recommend bringing help especially if you are outnumbered and its your first time here. It can be manageable solo during non-peak times.
🛒 Stroller friendly?🛒: yes, perfect place for stroller walks throughout the park
🦠Covid-safe🦠: can get very busy – most people are good about masks here though!
🅿️Parking🅿️: Free parking in front of playground
🧺 Picnic tables: plenty of covered pavilions with tables
⏰Timing⏰: 2+ hours!
Old Maryland Farm
🚽 Bathrooms 🚽: bathrooms at the farm are currently closed, but the bathrooms next to the mini golf course are open (you pass them on your way to the farm)
👩👧👦Solo w/ kids?👩👧👦: yes – one of my favorite places to go when I’m outnumbered
🛒 Stroller friendly?🛒: yes
🦠Covid-safe🦠: always quiet when we go, masks required
🅿️Parking🅿️: free! Park by the Wizard of Oz playground
⏰Timing⏰: 1 hr