Glen Echo began in 1891 as a National Chautauqua Assembly "to promote liberal and practical education, especially among the masses of the people; to teach the sciences, arts, languages, and literature; to prepare its patrons for their several pursuits and professions in life; and to fit them for the duties which devolve upon them as members of society."
By 1900, Glen Echo was on its way to becoming a premier amusement park, and it served the Washington area as such until 1968. Today the park has come full circle, the land and the historic buildings a back drop for a rich arts education program.
Since 1971, the National Park Service at Glen Echo Park has been offering year-round activities in dance, theater, and the arts for the surrounding communities and for visitors from across the country. The park also administers an artist-in-residency program providing the public with an opportunity to see artists at work. There are concerts, demonstrations, workshops, and festivals during the warm months as a part of the Chautauqua Summer season.
In addition, the antique hand-carved and hand-painted Dentzel carousel, saved by community effort, operates four days a week from May through September, and the Gallery and Bookshop features park artists in its exhibits.
The Spanish Ballroom (1933) hosts fun social dances Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year.
From Maryland, take the Capital Beltway (I-495) to exit 40 (Cabin John/Clara Barton Parkway).
From Virginia, take the Capital Beltway (I-495) to exit 41 East (Clara Barton/Cabin John Parkway, towards Washington).
In both cases, stay in the leftmost lane of the Parkway and travel 2.5 miles. Take the exit from the Parkway marked MacArthur Boulevard/Glen Echo. Note: this is a left exit. Travel slowly on the exit and follow the sign to MacArthur Boulevard.
Turn left onto MacArthur Boulevard. Go two blocks to Oxford Road (just past the Glen Echo shopping center) and turn left into the Glen Echo Park parking lot.