Living in Arlington: Our Favorite Free Summer Activities

Aug 21, 2019

by: Evan

Ever since my college soccer coach made “We believe in ANDs, not ORs” a core value for the team, I’ve adopted the idea of getting the best of two dissimilar worlds. Clearly ripped from Good to Great by Jim Collins, this idea is the inspiration for how we approach our lifestyle in Arlington. So long as you have the means to do so, it’s not difficult to live a full life in Arlington. There are innumerable places to find a fun experience. The immovable object always seems to be the high cost of living and from observation, we see three options for how to address the more costly, urban environment.

Live Less: Live it up, just do it less often. 

Live Once (You Only): Screw the budget, you aren’t going to be in D.C. forever.

Live More: Live it up AND be budget conscious (Bjorndal Blog endorsed method)

The idea behind this post is to share the plethora of fun activities we’ve found over the last six years in Arlington which help making the “Live More” lifestyle a reality. We have written a decent amount about how to do this at restaurants, so be sure to check out some of our other posts to see how this philosophy applies! Well, it’s Saturday morning in America and you have nothing planned for the weekend. Here’s a few ideas!


Located in Ballston, outside the Kettler Capitals Practice Arena on Glebe Rd., there are two public Bocce courts which we frequent quite a bit! For those of you who don’t know about Bocce, it’s like if curling was mellowed out a good ten notches. We play Bocce at the beach all the time and then realized that we could play FO FREE two blocks from our place! The Arlington County Parks also have three other locations, in case you don’t live in Ballston! ( 

Custis / W&OD Trail

Did you know that the Custis trail was blazed by Arlington native Sacajawea? (Poor use of the term native?) Actually, Sacajawea has nothing to do with the trails in Arlington but did you know that from a birds eye view, they form an outline of her face? FALSE. The first thing you need to know about Arlington trails is that we know nothing about the trails except for the fact that they are FREE and FUN. We love to walk, and occasionally bike these trails which connect Alexandria, D.C., Falls Church, and Arlington because:

-They provide a moderate amount of seclusion from hustle and bustle

-They are uninterrupted by traffic lights for the most part

-You occasionally will see a wild nature in its habitat (did i say that right?)

On the subject of nature, we reached out to the Arlington County Government multiple times whether we have to pay anything for the extra nature we sometimes see (deers, waters, wild rocks) and they have continued to tell us “Message Failed: Address not valid” which we have interpreted to mean, YES ITS FREE.

Summer Movie Nights

Did you know the D.C. area has a ton of outdoor movie nights during the summer? lets you know all the locations and dates (There’s still time for 2019!) Do i really need to explain this any further? Movies, for free, outside, where you live. 

Taste of Arlington

Once a year, there is a magical time in Arlington where spirits are high and everyone takes part. Not election day, what is wrong with you? Quarterfest or Taste of Arlington is an incredibly fun day where nearly every restaurant from Ballston to Rossyln stakes out a spot along Wilson Blvd, offering special menu items for anyone who buys tickets. You should spend money on this and go, BUT the truth is the event is free to roam through and there are a ton of free things to take part in. Admittedly, Hannah and I have never spent a dime at Taste of Arlington but we’ve enjoyed free stuff from Arlington vendors, a live concert that runs all day, and fun outdoor games! Mark you calendar and go to this event. Its about as close as Arlington gets to a block party and it’s pretty great!

The Public Library

Thank you Arthur Read for backing us up on this one. It indeed is not difficult to have fun, when you have an Arlington County Library card. While this isn’t specifically a plug for going to the library, it is a plug for knowing about the resource your taxes pay for!! Hannah and I have been using the Libby app for renting books and audiobooks through Arlington County for more than a year, and its such an incredible resource! The library also was a favorite place for me to study while I was preparing for my LEED and P.E. exams over the past few years. Personally, reading fiction is one of my favorite ways to find rest and I highly recommend going and getting a Library Card ASAP!

Picnic at National and Local Parks

Aside from the growing nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea, it could be argued that the greatest problem in the U.S.A is the lost art of having a picnic. Take it from that old painting of the lady with the fatty (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) by George Seurat that we just aren’t doing it like we used to. Meanwhile, Arlington County and the Department of the Interior are still doing their part. In Arlington, we have such beautiful spots as the Iwo Jima memorial, and the Rose Garden at Bon Air Park where a picnic is just dying to happen. Likewise, did you know that picnic food is pretty great? I made this tasty treat for Hannah and I when we went to the Rose Garden at Bon Air Park two years ago and it was fantastic! Bottom line, there are beautiful parks here and you ought to spend more time sitting on a blanket inside of one.

(And maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a challenge course along the way!)

The weather is still really nice so spend the sunset of summer checking out some of these activities that have helped us complete the AND between Living Fully and Spending Less!

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