The only viewing area is located in Gravelly Point Park, which is just north of the airport off George Washington Parkway. Planes approaching runway 19 make a left turn over the park as they must follow the river bend – Washington DC is across the Potomac River and is a “no-fly” zone. This park is a great place to come and relax whether or not you are watching planes. There are running trails and boat ramps for small boats & jetskis. Planes on approach will be very low and you get a good view of the end of the runway where planes will taxi into position to depart toward the south. Also, planes departing to the north will be low when flying over this park.
The most common type of aircraft seen here are 737, MD80, Regional Jets, and turboprops. The largest airline at DCA is USAirways and its regional affiliates.
Overall, this is a very good choice for planespotting. It’s a safe place and usually very crowded, and there are no entrance or parking fees. The sun angle for photography is good too since you can be on either side of the centerline of the runway on the jogging trail. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Washington DC area.