Unique Places in Washington D.C.

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Washington D.C.

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    Visiting Mount Vernon...

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    "Liberty, when it begins to root, is a plant of rapid growth." George Washington

    While in Washington DC, we went to Mount Vernon, George Washington's House for 45 years. Since we had no car, & Mount Vernon is 16 miles southeast of Washington DC, it was convenient to take the tourmobile from Washington Monument. Make reservations in person 30 minutes in advance at the point of departure. Cost includes admission to the mansion.

    George Washington inherited Mount Vernon & the surrounding lands in 1761. He oversaw the transformation of the main house from a simple farm house into a grand mansion.

    The red-roofed house is made of yellow pine that has been painted with a "sand paint" to resemble white-stone blocks. It was great to have guides stationed throughout the house because they would answer questions & describe all the furnishings. There is no formal tour, so use the attendants throughout the house.

    We were allowed to walk the estate & the 3 gardens. There is a workshop, kitchen, carriage house, greenhouse, & the slave quarters. There is also a brick house ( Washington's & his family's tombs.)

    Interestingly, you are able to purchase seeds from plants in the garden as well as stripling boxwoods (started in 1798!) The tour takes almost two hours. We did not know it at first, & we learned too late, that we could have taken a private, evening candlelight tour of the mansion. The staff dresses in 18th-century costumes.

    I read that George Washington's Gristmill opened in 2002 on the site of his original mill & distillery.

    We found the Slave Quarters most interesting. Washington freed his slaves in his will, & a memorial to those slaves was erected in 1983 near his tomb.

    When you visit the house, you will see 14 rooms restored: painted in the original colors favored by George & Martha.
    Avoid weekends & holidays & the summer months if at all possible. We were there in October, & it was not crowded.
    Adults $9.00
    Seniors 8.50
    Children 4.50
    (6-11)

    Mount Vernon, George Washington's Home
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    7th St. Dead Ends at the Waterfront

    by tpangelinan Written Apr 24, 2005

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    Mike and I escaped the frey and walked around the quiet marina. There is not much open in the morning. Walking around was quiet and scenic. The fish markets were just setting up, so I guess we were there pretty early. It was a nice walk and along the water are restaurants and clubs. Phillips all you can eat seafood buffet is here, and a huge club call H2O. We saw some lucky people getting up off their boat and riding their bike to work. Cool.

    Walk around the Marina
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    National Zoological Park

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    If you travel to Washington with children, the National Zoological Park is a "must see" activity. Even if you don't have children, it's a "must see". The beautifully landscaped park covers 163 acres in an urban area & is an innovative center for animal care & conservation.

    There are more than 4,000 animals who live at the zoo in habitats that allow natural behavior.
    This zoo was opened in 1889 & was the 1st in the world to adopt a goal of preserving endangered species.

    Since school groups come in the mornings, wait until about two in the afternoon to make your visit. That is especially true if you want to see the giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

    I love all kinds of cats, so I was thrilled to see the extremely endangered Sumatran Tigers that have been successfully bred at the National Zoo.
    I am always mesmerized by the antics of the Western Lowland gorillas such as the ones housed in the Great Ape House.

    The American western grasslands are exhibited in The American Prairie in a recreation of their complex eco-system. Bison graze while prairie dogs cavort around. It's a "riot" to observe!
    You can even watch an on-going research study of the cognitive & language abilities of the Orangutans in a building they term the Think Tank.

    One of the National Zoological Park's most successful conservation efforts has been with the Golden Lion Tamarins who are squirrel-sized primates. In the warm-weather months, these Lion Tamarins run free in the trees around Valley Trail.

    At the Great Plains exhibit, Cheetahs actually wander around a recreation of the grasslands of their native African habitat.

    Don't miss the Komodo Dragons (rare lizards that grow up to 10 feet & weigh up to 200 pounds...they are the 1st to be born in captivity outside of Indonesia.

    To avoid an uphill walk, use the Cleveland Park Metro Stop, which is most convenient for the Connecticul Avenue entrance.

    3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW
    Free Admission

    Lowland gorillas at the Zoo
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    Once a Slum...Now the Fashionable Spot to Be!

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2005

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    "Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again." Henry Ford

    In the 1800s, Georgetown was a major port with a huge slave and tobacco trade, commercial wharves, unattractive, cheap housing...a slum.

    Once the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal & its competitor, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad arrived, they brought money to Georgetown; suddenly, it was "exclusive". All went well until the canal began to fail because of flood damage, and, yes, the slum conditions returned.

    It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who rehabilitated the area, but it was during the Kennedy era when Georgetown became "hip".
    Allan and I visited Georgetown at night to take Ian Vasquez, a former student of mine, to dinner. He gave us a fast tour before dinner.

    Georgetown Universtiy sits on its hill which overlooks Georgetown & the PotomacRiver. With its stone towers, it almost seems that it belongs to the Middle Ages. Visitors can obtain campus maps & suggestions for strolls from the booth at the main gates.

    Right in the middle of the shopping area, you can see and tour Old Stone House (1766). The National Park Service provides tours and demonstrations. (3051 M St)

    Oak Hill Cemetery has a Gothic Revival chapel & the Van Ness Mausoleum, which are on the National Register of Historic Places. (R & 30th Streets, NW)

    In the summer, mule-drawn barge rides are offered with expert guides at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Visitor Center: (1057 Thomas Jeffereson St. NW)

    A wide variety of shops & restaurants make their home on famous Wisconsin Avenue.The gold dome of Landmark Riggs National Bank is at the junction of Wisconsin Ave. & M St.

    Federal Houses on the Canal in Georgetown
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    Panda Mania

    by Yaqui Updated Aug 23, 2004

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    I just have to mention when I arrived in Maryland my sister wanted to drive me around right away, so off we went:-) As I notice right away, these very colorful Panda Bear Statues every where and I mean every where. I kept asking my sister what was up with that and she said what on earth am I talking about. So when we finally hit a red traffic light there was a beautiful display of art on a Panda Bear on a corner, my poor sis said, "Oh, my goodness I never notice them before!" Well, I did one of those three stooges slap over my face and said Good Lord!....LOL! You gotta to love her..LOL!

    There are over a 150 of these wonderful designed works of art all over the city. On street corners everywhere. There are on display from May till Sept 2004. There are very impressive and I had such an appreciation for them and the time to create such beauty. Once the exhibit concludes they are to be auctioned off and the proceeds used for future artist grants and art education programs!

    Oh I picked up a map at the metro station that gave all the location to where the Pandas are located.

    My sis and those lovely Panda's!
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    The Exorcist Steps

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    For anyone that has ever seen the movie The Exorcist, a visit to The Exorcist Stairs is a must. This narrow and fairly long set of steps is where the priest rids himself of the devil by hurling himself to his death down the formidable passageway. Today, the same steps serve a more functional and less scary purpose: it is used by countless Georgetown athletes to get into great shape as the 75 steps is the equivalent of a 5 story building. Ten trips up and down should get your heart rate going if you run them. We just did them once for posterity but I can imagine if I lived in the neighborhood (and I wouldn't mind that one bit) I would use them as part of my workouts too.

    Connects Prospect and M Street in Georgetown. Easy to stumble across but hopefully not down. ;)

    it's a long way down and a long way up too
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    Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    The Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel is in the Gothic Revival style and was designed by Frank Renwick Jr. in 1850. Set on the highest ridge of Oak Hill Cemetery, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and perhaps the most visited site in a very impressive and scenic cemetery.

    We unfortunately had only one afternoon in lovely Georgetown and by the time we got to the cemetery, it was closed for the day. I grabbed this shot though the fence and later learned that photography was not permitted in the cemetery, a tough thing to abide by with such beautiful structures as this within its confines.

    Near the intersection of 29th and R Streets, Northwest

    gorgeous stone chapel in Georgetown
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    Georgetown University

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    Though not an Ivy League school, Georgetown University certainly has much of the air of one and alumni that are prosperous in a similar fashion. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Healy Hall is the cornerstone building of the old quadrangle which makes up a classic college grassy area for students to relax and soak up all that Georgetown atmosphere.

    I love checking out high end schools since I never could afford to attend one and Georgetown did not disappoint. It was nice for Doreen who is from Germany to see up close one of the United States' more renowned schools too.

    Prospect & 35th Street NW.

    GWU in all its glory certainly a nice place to go to school
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    Buffalo Bridge

    by Dabs Updated Jun 25, 2005

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    To get from the DuPont Circle neighborhood to Georgetown on Q Street you will cross over Rock Creek on the Dumbarton Bridge, nicknamed the Buffalo Bridge, the reason why should be obvious. :-)

    I thought the bridge was named after someone named Dumbarton but after doing a little web surfing it appears that the bridge and the nearby Dumbarton House were named for as a tribute to the property owner's homeland of Scotland, Dumbarton is a town near Glasgow.

    The sculptor of the buffalo on the bridge was Alexander Proctor, the bridge was built in 1914.

    Near Dupont Circle at Q and 23rd St.

    Buffalo Bridge

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    Daughters of the American Revolution Museum

    by rexvaughan Updated Mar 21, 2006

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    This museum may not be to everyone’s taste but if you are interested in American History, the American Revolution and general Americana it has an amazing amount of stuff. The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) was founded in the late 19th C and is dedicated to “promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.”

    It features displays of a wide range of historic manuscripts as well as lots of ceramics, furniture, toys, glass, quilts, etc from various times and places in American history. There are period rooms depicting typical rooms from different states which is an interesting and eclectic collection of representative parlors, kitchens, bedrooms and more furnished in the style of that state and time.

    The museum has an all American address: 1776 D Street, NW and is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can take a self-guided tour or docents are available for guided tours.

    I have included photos of the Georgia oom as that is where we live, and the Oklahoma Room as that is where my wife and I were both born and raised.

    The DAR Museum The Georgia Room The Oklahoma Room Another view of the Oklahoma Room
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    Francis Scott Key Park

    by richiecdisc Written Apr 25, 2010

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    While most people may know that Francis Key Scott wrote the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” few know he was a native of Georgetown. The city has commemorated is place in history with a gorgeous city park on the southern boundary of Georgetown. We did not get to fully explore the large park but the small entrance area has a bust of the famed son of Georgetown along with a brief history of his life.

    35th & M Street

    a nice pit stop in Georgetown
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    Library of Congress

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Feb 20, 2009

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    The Library of Congress is the national library of the United States and the research arm of the United States Congress. This library is housed in three buildings and it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and holds the largest number of books. The Library was established in 1800 and bolstered by the donation of Thomas Jefferson's personal library in 1815, after the British destroyed the library's original collection in 1814. The Library of Congress was also strengthened when the Smithsonian Institution donated its entire collection of 40,000 volumes. This library receives copies of every book, pamphlet, map, print, and piece of music registered in the United States.

    I have walked by the library a few times, but never had any interest to go in until I was in the brand-new $600 billion Capitol Visitors Center (only 300 percent over budget!), and I saw there is now a tunnel connecting to the LOC. Wanting to avoid the huge crowds at the Capitol, I walked the quiet, almost deserted corridor under 1st Street SE. I strolled past the security station...luckily the security at the Capitol Visitors Center is enough. I then wandered up the stairs and saw an old lady sitting quietly at a visitors (or security?) desk in the main Thomas Jefferson Building so I asked her sheepishly what I could do or see here. She said on the lower level was a Bob Hope display plus a Gershon room, but everything else to see was upstairs. I knew about Gina Gershon from the movie Showgirls, so I was all about checking that out! Too bad the exhibit was actually about a guy named Gershwin who apparently played the piano. Such disappointment I face at every turn.

    When my acute dejection subsided and my tears dried, I wandered upstairs and was instantly amazed by the bright Great Hall with its white marble columns and stairs along with the predominantly yellow and blue mosaics covering the ceilings. I continued up the next flight of stairs and my first stop was the "Creating the United States" display then the Thomas Jefferson Library with a sterile environment of circular shelves displaying the man's original books, numerous others that were purchased to restore the original library, plus blanks for missing books. I next walked over to the nearby Main Reading Room Overlook which gives a stunning perspective into a fairyland working library... how could anyone research in this beautiful environment? Finally, I walked back downstairs and checked out the Giant Bible of Mainz and the Gutenburg Bible (one of only four originals in the whole world!). It took me another 20 minutes to find my way out the lower front doors of this amazing library.

    LOC from the new $600+B Capitol Visitors Center

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    This is CNN!

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Nov 20, 2008

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    During my last visit to Washington DC, I was fortunate to get to visit the CNN Washington Bureau studios. My friend's brother-in-law is a camera man there, so we got the insider's tour. He showed us where "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer is filmed, and we met several of the people who make the show happen behind the scenes. He let us try out a few of the cameras, and we got our pictures taken in the studio used for remote interviews. Unfortunately Wolf was on vacation, so we couldn't hang out with him while he got his manicure and his nose hairs trimmed.

    Parking is limited around CNN, so take the Metro to Union Station, just a block away. CNN Washington studios are located along 1st Street NE in a building shared with the Department of Education. The Accenture corporation and Station Cafe are also in this building.

    One of the other main studios at CNN A studio at CNN Washington Main studio where the Me at a production room at CNN Another production room
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    Public Art

    by GentleSpirit Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    For those of us who live here, graffiti is not always a good thing. One artist though is something of a local legend. I remember even during the toughest times you had to be amazed at this guy. You could be walking down the street and suddenly notice his tag on a wall..or a bridge or something totally common. You can see a lot of his work if you ride the Red Line metro towards Silver Spring.

    Since his tags are not about advocating violence or anything like that..he has become a bit of a local legend. You always secretly cheered him when you saw his tag on some out of the way thing.

    Now Cool Disco Dan does interviews and has been featured on tv.
    You're the Man Cool Disco Dan!

    a local legend-Cool Disco Dan
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    Resting on the mall...

    by Pawtuxet Written Sep 25, 2004

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    There are many grassy areas where you can sit to relax or picnic. Vendors keep their trucks nearby so that travellers will find a cold drink, hot dog, a bit of ice cream. Gosia and I sat under a tree to cool off and eat ice cream. We were on our way to the Lincoln and Viet Nam memorials. Along came Mr. Duck and visited with us for a while...enjoying a few crumbs we found for him. They are quite tame....their colors are smashing.

    Mr Duck
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