Glen Echo Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

Carousel at Glen Echo Park

Carousel at Glen Echo Park

PARK OVERVIEW

“It’s like an almost abandoned amusement park.”
Anonymous visitor to Glen Echo Park

If you love the nostalgia and romance of turn-of-the-century amusement parks, then you will certainly want to stop by Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Maryland, the only park of its kind in the National Park Service’s repertoire. It is officially part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway unit of the National Park system, and it is located right next to the Clara Barton National Historic Site. You can easily visit both parks in a short afternoon.

In its time, Glen Echo Park was the Coney Island of Washington, D. C., full of rides, amusements, games, shows, and even a 7,500-square-foot Spanish Ballroom where Tommy Dorsey, Lawrence Welk, Bill Haley and the Comets, and other great acts performed. While the Spanish Ballroom still swings and the Dentzel Carousel still turns, the rest of the rides are long gone, and today the historic amusement buildings host art, music, and dance classes, theater and puppetry performances, art exhibits, concerts, and festivals.

Those not coming to Glen Echo Park for classes can catch a children’s show at Adventure Theater or The Puppet Co., take a ride on a nearly 100-year-old carousel, grab a bite to eat at the deli and bakery that operates on the property, have a picnic at the same location people have been picnicking at for a hundred years, and shop for arts and crafts created by local artists. Every Thursday through Saturday night public dances are held at the Spanish Ballroom. A free dance lesson is included in the price of admission.

For local residents, classes are held for those interested in ceramics and pottery, sculpture, painting, drawing, dancing, glassmaking, silversmithing, photography, puppetry, and music. Also, some of the buildings can be rented for hosting events. See the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture website for more information.

Glen Echo Park joined the National Park system in 1970, a few years after the amusement park closed. Today, most buildings are rented by various art and dance instructors. In 2003, the non-profit organization Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture was formed to take over the management of the park, and it is now in charge of the art programs, though the National Park Service Rangers are still on duty. You will find them walking around the park or in their office in the red brick building near the carousel and restrooms.


OPERATING HOURS

The grounds of Glen Echo Park are open daily from 6 AM to 1 AM, except when closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. However, the various businesses that operate in the park are open at different times, usually normal business hours. There is no reason to come early or stay late unless you are attending a class or a performance.

The National Park Service offices are closed Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and President’s Day.

The Glen Echo Pottery Studio and Gallery Yurts are open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 PM to 5 PM, April through December.

The Popcorn Gallery and Stone Tower Gallery are open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 PM to 6 PM year-round.

The Park View Gallery on the second floor of the Arcade building is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM year-round

The office of the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.

The Dentzel Carousel typically operates from May through September. On Wednesdays through Fridays in May through August the hours are 10 AM to 2 PM, and weekend hours are 11 AM to 5 PM. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In September the carousel is only open on weekends from 11 AM to 5 PM.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture website.


FEES

There is no charge to enter Glen Echo Park, but there is a small fee to ride the carousel ($2 at the time of this writing), and of course any shows or dances will have a fee.


SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

If you get a bite to eat, ride the carousel, and wander around to look at the old amusement buildings, plan to spend 1-2 hours at most. There is a one-hour film about the history of the park that is fabulous, but you can watch it on your own time on YouTube. See the Park History web page here on National Park Planner for the embedded video.

The Clara Barton National Historic Site offers a house tour that lasts one hour. The tour is all there is to do—no grounds or hiking trails. The two parks share the same parking lot, and you can visit both in one afternoon.

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Last updated on January 14, 2022
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