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Enid Haupt Garden
Right behind the Smithsonian Castle you will find a lovely garden. This is an especially lovely, shaded, quiet place to relax after you have been schlepping around the monuments and memorials and all your companions are tired.
The Gardens are named after Enid Annenburg Haupt, her father founded the publishing empire.
Ms Haupt was an avid gardener and has contributed greatly to horticulture. She contributed over 3 million dollars to the endowment so that the gardens would be created and maintained.
If you can get a shot from above you will see the manicured parterre.
bathrooms- In the Freer/Sackler Gallery
- Castles and Palaces
- Museum Visits
National Gallery of Art-Sculpture Garden
This is something I came across on my last trip to see the museums downtown. If you are coming from the Smithsonian towards the National Archives building you have to cut through this. It is actually quite refreshing. There is a very nice cafe in the sculpture garden, and right in front of that is an outdoor ice skating rink.
Honestly, most of the artwork in here is a bit too modern for me but the garden is a nice place to relax and take a break from the crowds.
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
Picnicing by The Potomac
D.C. is a planned city and included are glorious parks throughout. One of my favorite parks is at the bank of the Potomac River. Especially, on the hot and humid days of summer relaxing near this river gives a sense of refreshing coolness.
Having a relaxing picnic lunch along the bank of the Potomac River is interesting at any time, and this time, having the chance of watching the Georgetown U. rowing teams compete in a practice session. (Click on the photo to see the teams between the bridge and the boat.) Of course, I cheered for the "under-dog" which made it seem as if I were part of the scene.
- Budget Travel
- Sailing and Boating
- Study Abroad
Mount Vernon trail
This is an 18.5 mile trail. You can use it to walk, ride your bike, rollerblade, or jog. It runs from Mount Vernon (Washington's home) to Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River. Along the way, you can enjoy views of the Potomac, visit Fort Hunt Park, take a side trip to Dyke Marsh Preserve or to Jones POint Lighthouse. The trail goes right through Alexandria, VA, so you can enjoy the city streets, stop by shops and pubs, etc. The Dyke Marsh Preserve is the largest freshwater tidal wetland in the metro area. There are beaver, cattails, and wild rice along with 250 species of birds. Fort Hunt Park is 156 acres, good for a picnic. There are also other trails that connect to MVT.
- Budget Travel
- National/State Park
Ice Skating at the National Gallery
Well, outside of it anyway! During the winter months you can skate at a small rink next to the sculpture garden. Fun! Weather permitting, you can hit the ice from mid-November until mid-March; admission is $6 for adults, $5 for kids/students/seniors. You may bring your own skates or rent them there ($2.50). (That's the National Archives in the background. Oh, and yes that guy is skating in shorts--it was nearly 60F the day I shot this.)
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
- Museum Visits
Old Stone House 1765
I visited this during my first trip to DC. I was with a coworker and we were using the Greyline Trollies Tour. The ones you can board and get on and off so your can sightsee some on your own. Well, we got off in George Town to have breakfast and while walking back to the trolley stop I spotted the Old Stone House. My friend didn't want to go in, but I have a habit of tiring out people because I love to walk to all places if I can...lol. So I went in. How lovely it is inside. I was the only person other than the Park Ranger. He was so knowledgable and really glad I explored it.
This is the oldest house in Washington. It was built in 1765 by a cabinet maker.
Tours are given by Park Rangers.
Open Wednesday-Sunday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Closed all federal holidays.
3051 M St., NW
Washington DC 20007
Metro: Foggy Bottom/GWU
- Historical Travel
Meridian Hill park
We heard of a drum's festival happening in this park, so we drove around in circles for sometime before we located this park on the 16th Street, howver the informal drumming that was happening here made it totally worth it to have spent an hour here. Head here only if there is an event otherwise it is just another of the hundreds of parks in DC.
The Italian terraces and french areas are all very run down and not really worth a trip I must say!
Great falls park
The roads that lead up to this park are incredibly beautiful!! The drive itself is awesome! We are totally jealous of those who get to live in these areas!! Wow! What houses! We first reached the Difficult Run from where somebody rightly guided us to the park. The park is open till dark so it gives you plenty of time to roam around and dip your feet in the Potomac Waters. Even as we headed down a difficult trail we managed to get to the waters, just as we were leaving we even spotted a snake that was heading to just where we had been sitting! :O But this is a wonderful getaway for those who like us like to spend aimless hours walking in greenery and clean air! Also the hours we spent with our feet in running water made us totally nostalgic of our treks back in Karnataka!
There are 3 overlooks, the view gets better progressively! Do head to the waters if you like to do the same! The river trail that is 4 kms long is good for some great views and trivia. This Park is a great picnic spot and there are seats aplenty!
- National/State Park
The US Arboretum
Coming from Bangalore we are naturally very fond of gardens so we did not want to miss this one! This makes for a very nice picnic spot, do be warned there are no cafes here, so you should carry your own food. The vistor center is surrounded by water and water plants, round the corner you will find the bonsai gardens- Chinese, Japanese and North American. A tram ride around the gardens costs you $4, once you get a hang of the layout you can head to your favorite spot in the Arboretum. The Asian collections are particularly pretty, plan a visit in spring to see the blooms at it's best. We seemed to have missed it. A fantastic collection of boxwoods, the pungent smell is something you will take home with you! A perennial garden of blooms after that is also refreshingly colorful. The azalea collection is also beautiful to say the least. The Friendship Garden near the Arbor Gift House is also a neat sight, the National Capitol Columns here are a landmark indeed! All in all a memorable trip for us!
Dumbarton Oaks, Montrose Park & Oak Hill Cemetery
Dumbarton Oaks, Montrose Park and Oak Hill Cemetery are side by side parks that separate the upper reaches of Georgetown from Embassy Row and DuPont Circle.
Dumbarton Oaks mansion was constructed in 1800 and was later the home of U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, Secretary of Ear, Vice President, and secessionist John C. Calhoun from South Carolina. From the 1920s to the 1940s the ten acres of formal gardens were created. In 1940 the house owners donated the ground and collection of historical artifacts and books to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection managed by Harvard University. Dumbarton Oaks might be most famous for the 1944 conference that laid the groundwork for the United Nations. The house is surrounded by a 27-acre park called Dumbarton Park.
Montrose Park lies between Dumbarton Oaks and Oak Hill Cemetery. It was created in 1911 from land owned by a man who made his fortune in the rope making business, Robert Parrott.
Oak Hill Cemetery is a 22 acre cemetery and park on the edge of Rock Creek Park. The cemetery was created in 1848, and its famous chapel was built in 1849 by the same architect who designed the Smithsonian Institution's "Castle" on the National Mall. The cemetery is the final resting place of numerous Senators and Representatives in Congress.
US National Arboretum - Northeast
The US National Arboretum was established in 1927 and consists of some 446 acres of trees and meadows located just 2 miles from the Capitol Building in Northeast Washington. While the focus of an arboretum is trees, I think the most impressive aspect of this park-like area is the National Capitol Columns which graced the East Portico of the United States Capitol from 1828 until 1958. Other famous features of the arboretum include a beautiful azalea garden, National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, the Friendship Garden and Arbor House, and the National Grove of State Trees, containing specimens from nearly all 50 states. The Arboretum is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The park has some 10 miles of roads and numerous parking areas near many of the main attractions. You can drive throughout the park, take a tourist tram, or best of all--walk!
The only bad thing about the park is its location in Northeast next to the notoriously rough Trinidad Neighborhood. Maybe that's why the park closes at 5pm... to get tourist home before dark. The arboretum has entrances on New York Avenue and R Street.
Entrance is free.
Fort Washington National Park, MD
Fort Washington National Park lies along the Potomac River in Maryland, opposite Virginia's Fort Hunt and Mount Vernon. From Mount Vernon Highway you have several scenic overlooks providing excellent views of the fort and the lighthouse across this relatively narrow neck of the river.
The original Fort Washington was completed in 1809 as the primary defensive position protecting the new national capitol. During the War of 1812, the fort was destroyed by its American garrison during the British advance on Washington to prevent its capture. Fort Washington was reconstructed in 1824 with extensive remodeling in the 1840s and 1890s.
The fort is a stone structure with excellent firing lanes down the Potomac River. It was turned over to the Department of the Interior in 1946 after the Army closed the garrison. The park grounds have hiking and bicycle paths and picnic areas.
The Fort Washington Light, located below the fort, was established in 1857. The current tower was constructed in 1882, and it stands 28 feet tall.
Great Falls Park & Patowmack Canal
At Great Falls Park, the Potomac River tumbles over a series of steep rocks and drops nearly 80 feet in less than a mile through the narrow Mather Gorge. Great Falls Park was created around the Virginia side of the river, and it provides many opportunities to experience history and nature in a scenic 800-acre park 15 miles from Washington DC. The park has three viewing platforms with vantage points overlooking the falls, and the National Park Service operates a visitor center next to the falls.
the Patowmack Canal around the Potomac River, was built from 1785 until 1803. It consisted of a series of five locks, on the Virginia side of the river, that raised or lowered boats around the falls. George Washington was a strong proponent of the project as it was a way to expand American influence to the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys. This was the first canal in the US to use locks. This one mile canal had five locks and was opened in 1785.
The canal construction centered around a town called Matildaville. This town was founded by Harry "Light Horse" Lee (Robert E. Lee's father) and it served as a home for many of the canal builders.
Entrance is $5.00 for a three-day vehicle pass, or $3 for an individual pass. The park has annual passes, and it accepts the National Parks/Interagency Pass which is good at most USDA Forest Service, National Parks Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management sites.
Access the park by exiting Interstate 495 (the Capital Beltway) at Georgetown Pike (Virginia Route 193) and head west 3 miles (4.5 km) to Old Dominion Drive. From there follow the signs north 1 mile (1.5 km) to the park entrance.
Meridian Hill Park
Meridian Hill Park is named so because it lies due north of the Prime Meridian that was once created running north from Jones point in Alexandria, and the White House. At one time it housed a mansion, later it was home to Columbia College--predecessor to the George Washington University--and it housed Union soldiers during the Civil War. Today it is a large neighborhood park that is well landscaped, yet quiet and peaceful. The park is surrounded by 16th, Euclid, 15th, and W Streets between Adams Morgan and the Shaw neighborhoods.
In Meridian Hill Park you will find a 13-pool cascade facing the distant Washington Monument, a large open field overlooking a waterfall, and monuments for President Buchanan, the author Dante, French hero Joan of Arc, and a defaced sculpture of "Serenity" dedicated to Lieutenant Commander William Henry Schuetze (USN).
President Buchanan was a relatively unsuccessful president. He is blamed for failing to prevent the Civil War as he declared secession illegal, but war to prevent secession was also illegal. He was also president during the financial panic of 1857 and the Utah War (also called "Buchanan's Blunder"). Buchanan is the only American president to never be married, and his niece Harriet Lane acted as first lady, and later funded this monument as well as one in Pennsylvania. The statue was dedicated in 1930 at a cost of $115,000.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was an Italian author who wrote the Divine Comedy. The statue was pesented on the 600th anniversary of Dante's death by an Italian-American newspaper publisher named Carlo Barsotti. This statue was dedicated at a cost of $50,000 in 1921.
The Joan of Arc statue is the only female equestrian statue in Washington DC. It was sponsored by the Society of French Women in Exile in New York in 1922. This is a copy of an identical statue by the same sculptor that stands in front of the cathedral at Rheims, France.
LCDR Schuetze, as best as I can tell was the navigator on the USS Iowa in 1898 during the Spanish American War. This ship's most historic engagement was taking part the destruction of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. This statue was created from a single block of marble at the bargain basement coast of $4,500 and was presented in 1925.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Theodore Roosevelt Island is a hidden, and rarely visited park maintained by the George Washington Parkway branch of the National Park Service. It is about 90 acres and it's most (only) important landmark is the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial. The Island covers about 90 acres of hardwoods and marshland and measures about 2/3 of a mile by 1/3 of a mile. The island has around four miles of trails including about a half mile of boardwalk over the swamps of the eastern side of the island.
The island was settled by local natives who apparently used it as a seasonal fishing village. Later it was owned by George Mason (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence), then his son build a mansion here which became the center of the local social scene. Since about 1831 the island was mainly uninhabited other than a brief period of occupation by Union troops during the Civil War. Around 1906 the deserted mansion's remains were destroyed by fire, and the Washington Gas Light Company owned the island from 1913 to 1931. The island was purchased from Washington Gas Light Company by the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association in 1931. In 1932 Congress authorized the constriction of the memorial, though it was not completed until 1967.
You should park at the small parking area on the northbound lanes (actually heading west) of the George Washington Memorial Parkway next in Rosslyn, Virginia (but the Island itself is considered part of DC). From this parking lot with maybe 100 parking spaces, there is an arched concrete bridge leading over a small channel of the Potomac. After crossing the bridge to the island the trails become relatively level packed earth going in either direction. Also at the end of the bridge on the island is a National Park Service sign with maps of the island, maps of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and other information brochures. A quick turn to the right, then up the hill will lead you straight to the Monument. Trails run both directions from the base of the bridge.
By Metro, go Rosslyn on the Orange and Blue Lines, then its a 6-block walk.
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Washington D.C. Travel Guide
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