When looking for a perfect spot for a date, a place where planes continually pass overhead, making conversation difficult and shaking the earth as they pass might not be exactly what one pictures.
But Gravelly Point, a park located in Arlington, Virginia is a popular date spot AND one of the best places in the country to watch planes landing and taking off. Some visitors, when told about the park, thought it wasn't there cup of tea. One woman said she never would have, on her own, visited a place where the highlight was a plane flying overhead. But she met a blind date there and said that her eyes were opened to how truly thrilling it is.
The thrill comes from the fact that the planes fly as low as 100 to 150 feet directly overhead. The park, which was created by adding loads of topsoil on top of a landfill, is located slightly north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The runway for that airport is just 400 feet away from the park.
During the busy time of day, a visitor might see 30 planes coming or going within an hour. Even during slower periods, there is normally some activity every 8 minutes or so. Adding to the fun of watching these planes is the fact that the planes must make sharp turns in order to avoid flying over restricted airspace, such as the space over the White House. Watching a huge jet seem to almost turn on its side and fly directly overhead is something that visitors to this park return to see again and again.
There is ample parking at Gravelly Point, which is a good thing since the park always has a crowd. In addition to plane watching, visitors may bring a picnic, toss a Frisbee or lie on the grass and read a book.
Located on the George Washington National Parkway on the bank of the Potomac River, the Northern Virginia Bike Path runs right through the park. That makes Gravelly Point a popular starting point for those who wish to take a run or a bike ride.
One Arlington local said she just parks her car at Gravelly Point, pulls her bike out of the back and hits the trail. When she's done, if the weather is nice, she'll relax beneath one of the willow trees and watch a few planes come and go or read a book.
The noise is deafening, but that doesn't seem to deter either the aviation lovers or those who come to more casually the airplane traffic.
There is also a great view of the Washington skyline, and leashed dogs are permitted in the park.