Clemyjontri Park (McLean, VA)

Friday September 2, 2011
By
Clemyjontri Park

Clemyjontri Park

6317 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101
703-388-2807
Website   ~   Map Link

Playground Rating:

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Fees:
Good For:
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Play Space Amenities:

Bottom Line:  An unbelievably huge, wonderful, fully accessible park with horrible parking and little shade. 4/5 stars due to parking and sun.

Note: The parking lot quickly fills up, but overflow parking is available in Langley Forks Park, which is located across Georgetown Pike (turn right out of Clemy and then left into LFP); it involves a several minute walk.

The Review:

It was a gorgeous summer day, sunny but not too hot and not at all humid.  I had promised the kids a playground adventure, but needed to mentally gear up for the outing.   Today was the day we would visit Clemyjontri, and I was not looking forward to it.

We arrived around 10:20 am and of course, the parking lot was totally full.  I had no hope of snagging a spot at that time of morning, but miracle of miracles, I caught a family leaving and was able to park in the main lot.   Parking in the auxiliary lot wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, especially since I’m past the stroller/diaper phase, but it is much less convenient.

In case you have never been to nor heard of Clemyjontri, one could argue it is the premier playground destination in all of the Metro DC area.  It was built in 2006, thanks to the donation of the Lebowitz family and it’s name is derived from their four children, Carolyn (CL), Emily (EMY), John (Jon), and Petrina (Tri).   Mrs. Liebowitz dreamed of a playground for children of all abilities and Clemyjontri was designed so that children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces, or who have sensory or developmental disabilities, can have a parallel playground experience of fun and exploration.

And did I mention?  It’s big.

The Carousel

The centerpiece of the park is its carousel.  It operates seasonally at select times. Rides cost $1.75/kid and parents are not charged to ride with their child, which is nice.   We hit the carousel first, before it got too crowded and everybody had a fun ride.

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The rest of the park is broken out into Four “Rooms“.

Fitness & Fun

We started in Fitness & Fun section.  It includes the largest piece of play equipment along with various jungle gym components, all designed to stimulate imagination, burn energy, and build confidence.

The huge play structure is really fun for kids, but has lots of blind spots and can be challenging for caregivers to keep track of their kid(s).

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One of the biggest complaints about Clemyjontri is the lack of shade.  However, it is better than I remembered (our last visit was several years ago).   There are shade structures set up around the playground, and the trees have gotten bigger too, offering pockets of protection.  My kids found some shade in the shadow of the big “castle”, as we call it, but generally speaking, the play areas are full sun.

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Moving and Groovin Transportation Area

After snack, we were ready to explore the transportation area.   This section didn’t hold my kids’ interest as long as some of the others, but little ones seem to love the rocker seats and the transportation shaped play equipment.  There are airplanes, race cars, a helicopter, a train, a fire truck, and a school bus.   There is also a fun striped straight-away race track  where kids can race in a 100 yard dash.

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The Schoolhouse and Maze

The third area is focused on educational learning games with configurable panels that have maps, globes, time zones, clocks, and more.  My three year old loved running through the panel maze.

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The Rainbow Room

This area features a rainbow archway, a surface with colors of the rainbow and a variety of swings: several chunky accessible swings, 2 regular, 2 bucket, 2 tire swings and a few other flavors.

Additionally, there is something called “Sway Fun” — a big apparatus that sways when you shift your weight — and a wheelchair swing.  The later is not intended for the general public, it is restricted to those who are wheelchair bound.

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Facilities

Clemyjontri has a nice shaded picnic pavilion which can be reserved.   When we were there, it had a big yellow jacket infestation and it was not fun to be around.    There are also nice bathroom facilities, including changing tables, and a small office where staff can be reached (for things like bee stings) or to purchase tokens for the carousel (credit cards accepted).

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Clemyjontri does have some rules that need to be followed, one of which is that bikes, scooters, roller blades, etc. are not allowed within the playground area.   This is a little confusing because they have some blacktop paved paths that seem designed for bike use, but apparently it is too high traffic an area to allow bikes.   There is another paved trail outside the playground area (around the parking lot) on which bikes are permitted.

Honestly, I was expecting to hate my outing more than I did and we actually had a fun time.  It really helps that my 2 of my 3 kids are older and I don’t freak out if they are out of sight, like I used to when they were younger.  If you are bringing more than one child (especially preschool aged and below), it is really helpful to go with a friend or mate to keep track of the kiddos.

The shade situation was better than I remembered it, but probably because it wasn’t a blazing hot day — the equipment would still be pretty unbearable in full summer sun.

This should be a 5 star park, but I only give it 4 due to parking issues, bees(!), and lack of shade on play equipment.   What is your rating?

If you haven’t been, you should definitely check out Clemyjontri.  And if you have been, what are your tips for making it a fun outing?

Find more parks by visiting my main Arlington Parks & Playgrounds page.

One Response to Clemyjontri Park (McLean, VA)

  1. 1
    Susan says:

    We always go late in the day which helps with the parking, bees, and sun. Whenever we ventured in the midday at peak of summer we did not stay long and spent a chunk of time sitting in the pavilion sipping liquids. The carousel is closed by the time we get there. If you really want to ride one there is Burke Lake Park or Dulles Town Center Mall. Also there are special days during the season that the carousel is open late at Clemyjontri.

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