Parks / Gardens, Washington D.C.
Take a walk with your dog along the Potomac, there's a really nice sidewalk, grass all along with cherry trees of all types every where . Now you must pick up after your little friend goes to bathroom. If you do not you can receive a nice fine from your friends at the police or parks & recreation, so make sure you bring some extra bags.
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
If you are tired out after busy sightseeing around Washington's downtown and need some relax the easiest way is to go to the West Potomac Park, part of a U.S. national park, officially established as National Mall & Memorial Parks in 1965, adjacent to the National Mall (map here). I found the part of this park adjacent to the Potomac River completely empty. So, I went for a walk in peace and quite completely unexpected just a few minutes from the busy and crowded Lincoln Memorial.
There is the Tidal Basin, an artificial inlet of the Potomac River created in the 19th century that links the Potomac with the northern end of the Washington Channel. There is Franklin Delano Roosvelt Memorial (FDR Memorial) and Jefferson Memorial along the Tidal Basin. The famous sakura (Japanese cherry trees) of Washington line the Tidal Basin. If you are lucky to come in early spring (March/April) you will see them in bloom. They are the main attraction at the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
On our drive through Washington DC, Kent took us by this interesting sculpture called “The Awakening”, an aluminum sculpture of a giant emerging from underground, created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. for the 1980 International Sculpture Exhibition and Conference.
My photo of the whole giant isn't very good and has lots of tourists posing on the various body parts so you're just going to have to settle for the head or go out and have a look yourself.
The giant is on the grounds of Haines Point and the banks of the Potomac River.
There are many parks (like West/East Potomac Park) and various off the beaten path places to take a rest in downtown Washington, DC. But some people are too lazy to walk so far from the Mall. They, including this guy in my picture, use to relax, lie or sleep on a grass on any green meadow which is at least a bit hidden among numerous huge buildings housing Smithsonians museums.
They behave properly and never stretch out on the grassy National Mall not to disturb (or attract) numerous visitors. Most of them are well prepared for a nap bringing a blanket to lie on or even the two to cover themseves by the second one. Those less lucky bring newspapers to lie on them though. It's not my recommendation for folks looking for the cheapest accommodation and I am not sure whether it's allowed at night. Anyway, have a great nap! :-)
Lincoln Park is a nice, quiet city park just about 10 blocks east of the Capitol Building. This park might be small, but it has more trees than just about any other city park in the city besides the Mall and Rock Creek Park. It is also full of kids, dogs, squirrels, and amateur photographers.
The biggest attraction here besides the open space and the nice neighborhood is the Lincoln Emancipation Monument. This statue of Lincoln freeing a slave was actually the first Lincoln Memorial in the city and was built with money donated by emancipated slaves soon after they learned of his assassination. A second monument stands just east of the Lincoln Monument; this one is a woman and children dancing, and is dedicated to a former teacher from the area. From Lincoln Park you can make out the statue of Freedom on the Capitol Building due west, and you can see the Washington Monument, which is surprisingly not perfectly aligned with the street axis like you'd expect.
The memorial to Albert Einstein is a little known spot in DC. His statue is hidden a bit in a serene garden in front of the Department of Science building...on an angle across the street from the Viet Nam Memorial. If you are walking from the subway (Metro) station, George Washington University stop....it is easy to stop by on your way to the VietNam wall. Albert sits on a ledge with a celestial map at his feet...and a book with his famous formulas written on the page. The statue was done by Berk who did the popular sculpture of Kennedy. I really like this guy. Stop by and see him.
Spring blossoms lining the park sidewalks beside the Capitol... on the way to Union Station and the Metro. Always Senate and House staff members coming and going...government workers with briefcases in deep discussions as they hustle to lunch or at the end of the day. The combination of blossoms and briefcases is just SO Washington.
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.)
The thing about Washington...especially in the springtime, is that there are so many tulips, cherry blossoms, wisteria, daffodills, pansies, and whatever other blossoms....that you just can't imagine such a beautiful city. The design of the city includes pockets for colorful gardens in every possible space.
As I was strolling through the National Mall I came to this beautiful little flower garden marked at the begininning by wonderful birdhouses rises out of a very colorful flower bed. I really enjoyed this beautiful addition to the National Mall, not only were the flowers absolutely beautiful, but the garden gave me some much needed shade on that oh so hot June Sunday.
The Smithsonian Institute Women's Committee created this wonderful garden oasis in 1988 in honor of Mary Livingston Ripley, the founder of the Smithsonian Women's Committee. This is the perfect place to take a break from the museums and buildings and enjoy a cool drink and nice snack.
Rock Creek Park runs through the western half of the city. You can take Rock Creek Parkway from the Kennedy Center and drive to Maryland with this lovely park surrounding you - my favorite way to head out of the city! See my Rock Creek Travelogue for more views of the Park.
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.
Rock Creek Park is Washington DC's largest natural area and is managed by the National Park Service. This park was founded in 1890 and consists of 1755 acres of woodlands, sports fields, trails, and a scenic steep-banked creek. Recent excavations have revealed that Native Americans had camp sites here that were used from 2500 BC to AD 1400. Rock Creek Park was home to several of the forts that formed the defensive ring around Washington DC during the Civil War, and these defensive lines were tested in 1864 in the Battle of Fort Stevens. Later the area that is now the park housed several mansions and mills along the creek.
Today the park is home to a wide variety of attractions and activities. Carter Barron Amphitheater offers concerts and Shakespearean theater during the summer. Rock Creek Park has a variety of paved bicycle paths, 30 picnic areas,15 soft-surface and 10 hard-surface tennis courts, 13 miles of dirt and gravel bridle trails, an 18-hole public course, the only planetarium in the national park system, and the Thompson Boat center that rents bicycles, kayaks, canoes, small sailboats and rowing shells. The park has coyote, fox, raccoons, owls, and deer.
What a great hidden monument. After 15 or 20 trips to this city and living here a few months, I didn't even know this memorial existed. When I finally did discover this hidden gem, it was completely by accident as I was scouting out some new running routes on this deserted park island in the Potomac.
I parked 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, and the bike trail along the south bank of the Potomac runs right through the parking lot. After crossing the bridge to the island the trails become relatively level packed earth going in either direction. At the end of the bridge 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.
The Theodore Roosevelt Monument's centerpiece is a large statue of a happy, waving President Roosevelt overlooking a circular plaza. On either side of the President are tall sandstone panels with some of his quotes on what are seen as his most important issues. To Teddy's right are panels about nature ("Conservations means development as much as it does protection") and manhood while to his left are panels about youth and the state ("if I must choose between righteousness and peace I choose righteousness"). and In summer the plaza has two fountains and is surrounded by water. In the winter these become two big stone bowls and a trough full of leaves. I did find it ironic that the Nature panel has the skyscrapers of Rosslyn as its backdrop.
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.
By Metro, go Rosslyn on the Orange and Blue Lines, then its a 6-block walk.