Parks / Gardens, Washington D.C.
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.
Phone: (703) 289-2500
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.
Phone: (703) 289-2500
Judiciary Square is an area of downtown Washington DC between Union Station and Chinatown. The center of this district is a rectangular plaza, called Judiciary Square, and it is surrounded by numerous courts and government buildings. These include the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; the four buildings of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse (which houses both the municipal court and the DC Court of Appeals); the E. Barrett Prettyman building, which houses United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; and the United States Tax Court.
Also in the area are numerous other government buildings such as the FBI's Washington field office; the US Department of Labor; the headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Police; the Government Accountability Office; the Washington Metro transit system headquarters; the United States Army Corps of Engineers; the National Building Museum, also known as the Old Pension Building; DC city offices at One Judiciary Square; the city DMV; and the American Association of Retired Persons headquarters.
This area also has a few monuments and statues, including the first of several Lincoln Memorials in the city, an Albert Pike memorial (the only outdoor DC monument for a Confederate figure), and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall memorial.
I think my favorite landmarks in Judiciary Square are the Joseph James Darling Fountain and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Darling was a prominent 19th century lawyer in the city, and when he died, this statue was dedicated in his memory. What is the perfect statue for a lawyer? How about a nude girl and a small deer, both in bright gold?
The Law Enforcement Memorial is a little more somber, as it recognized the nation's law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. The monument is the centerpiece of Judiciary Square, and it contains the names of some 17,500 policemen who have died. It is flanked by four lions and eight lion cubs.
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.
Phone: (202) 895-6070
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 National Arboretum. The arboretum is a place you never hear about. Either people don't know it exists or have no idea where it is. I ran there recently in the winter and even though everything was pretty much dead the views were wonderful. You can tell that in the spring time it is a beautiful place to be. A really interesting thing to see here is the National Capitol Columns. These columns began their existence at the Capital in 1829. They were moved to the Arboretum basically because the dome didn't look right on top of them so they were replaced. No entrance fee and there's parking inside.
Website: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Related to:
One of the more pleasant surprises about Washington, DC was the vast number of public parks and places to reflect. And not just the major areas like the National Mall; small, out of the way parks.
I guess for those that work in a high-stress like DC, a lot of parks and peaceful settings are good for the soul.
I loved the urban wetlands that are located just outside the entrance of the National Museum of the American Indian. I would have liked to have visited the museum itself, but was between meetings with legislative aides so the wetlands itself had to do.
There were several people enjoying the natural oasis; individuals drawn to nature. It is also amazing the caucophony of different birds and frogs. Even in the middle of a concrete jungle nature will abound if given the chance.
It was beautiful and peaceful, a wonderful place to reflect.
It'a not the world's best arboretum - in fact it wouldn't rate on my Top 50 - but still definitely worth the effort at certain times of the year. It probably gets few foreign visitors, and many locals come just to walk, exercise the dog or just relax on the grass. Don't expect anything as sophisticated as London's Kew Gardens or even the Beijing Botanical Gardens for size or Wow factor, and very few trees are labelled, but it is a very relaxing place with some interesting features. Unfortunately, those features probably detract from the focus on the trees: the azalea collection, the slightly weird collection of the former US Capitol Building columns (moved here in the 1950s, possibly after a yard sale) and the rather unimpressive Bonsai Garden. The folks at the USNA are at it again, with a Chinese Garden under construction. Is this a Botanical Garden or an Arboretum?
Access is not easy unless you are driving, and even then you can get caught out. The actual slip road (accesible only from the Northbound New York Avenue NE) is completely unmarked. If you miss it (it starts just yards after the Bladenburg Road junction) then take the next exit onto Dakota, keep on until the next big junction and turn left onto Bladensburg and cross New York (you cant turn left here). After about four blocks, turn left into R street and another entrance is at the end of the street.
Address: 3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, D. C. 20002-1958
Website: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Add to your Trip Planner
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.
Phone: +1 (202) 426 6841
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.
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! :-)
Totally inaccessable by the Metro Trains, the National Arboretum is a hidden jewel along the Potomac River. Near the eastern and less fashionable parts of the city,
The US National Arboretum is a US Department of Agriculture research and education
facility and a living museum. If you go by on a weekend, expect a day wandering amongst the plants and flowers, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, and various types of flora and fauna, as well as the original capital columns.
The closest Metrorail subway stop is Stadium Armory Station on the Blue and Orange lines. Transfer to Metrobus B-2; disembark the bus on Bladensburg Road and walk 2 blocks to R Street. Make a right on R Street and continue 2 blocks to the Arboretum gates.
On weekends and holidays (except December 25, when the grounds are closed) you will find it more convenient to use Metro's direct shuttle service from Union Station by hopping on the X6 metrobus. The bus operates every 40 minutes and the fare is $1.10 one way ($0.25 with rail transfer).
This is truly a secret part of the city, and I've never seen it crowded.
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.
In natural elevation, this is the highest point in the District of Columbia. The park itself is very popular for concerts in the summer. It is also interesting to note that the highest area in DC is in fact a reservior, which is located at the center of the park. The water towers are an interesting sight with their turreted appearance. The park can be found in the Tenleytown neighborhood and is only a few blocks from the Metro stop.