FAVORITE PLACES IN WASHINGTON, DC
When we have out-of-town visitors (often) and they want to “do” DC (usually), and they have their list of tourist destinations (typical), I try and squeeze in my own favorite spots on the tour. I tailor these destinations depending on the group, season, and what I think they would appreciate.
The Farm Dupont Circle Market
Want a great place to start your Sunday? Right where Massachusetts Avenue runs into 20th Street and Dupont Circle, the streets close and DC’s biggest farmer’s market offers fresh-baked loaves of bread, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and artisanal items of all kinds. It’s a cool vibe for foodies, chefs, and people-watchers, and it’s open from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm year round. Get a croissant from the French baker’s right next to the bank and stroll the stalls for lunch and dinner ideas.
Arlington House (The Custis-Lee Mansion) at Arlington Cemetery
The highlight of Arlington Cemetery for me is the mansion at the very top of the hill, with sweeping views over the city. This was the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee before the Civil War. The mansion was seized when the war between the states broke out. This is a great destination for history buffs.
National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum
Located right next to each other in Gallery Place downtown, connected across a beautiful, glass-roofed courtyard, these two museums are a delight – with wonderful collections of art plus a rotating blend of exhibitions that recently included Diane Arbus’ photos, a technicolor portrait collection of prominent Americans from the ’50s and ’60s, and dozens of Norman Rockwell paintings. The 11 Smithsonian museums on The Mall are great but usually crowded. These two gems are less so and surrounded by a vibrant restaurant and bar scene. Walk the hallways and enjoy a snack in the spectacular, sunlit courtyard.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
If you’re here for the annual cherry blossoms in late March or early April around the Tidal Basin, make sure you take a little side trip to this wonderful tribute to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. The open-air memorial is hidden in the trees nearby. Outdoor “rooms” cover each term of his presidency from the Depression through World War II, with waterfalls, striking sculpture, and quotes from his speeches. Learn while you walk through and explore this treasure.
Capital Crescent Trail
I’m a cyclist, and the greatest gift for a DC bike rider is the rails-to-trails project, which paved the rail line from Silver Spring to downtown DC and created a safe, easy 11-mile route along the Potomac River for walkers, runners, cyclists, and roller-bladers. Head toward the river and you’ll find entry points and access to Nationals Park, The Mall, East Potomac Park, and Hains Point, Georgetown and other places to visit in DC.
A few blocks from your tour of the U.S. Capitol on 7th St. SE is DC’s oldest food and art market, in operation since 1873. On weekends, grab a latte and muffin at Port City Java and check out the dozens of outdoor arts and crafts vendors and the South Hall Market’s food stalls. One favorite stop for sheer fun is Capitol Hill Books, with floor-to-ceiling stacks of used books in an old row house next to the market (poetry is in the upstairs bathroom sink). From there, it’s an easy stroll to all the restaurants and shops along Barracks Row.
Well there you have it, visit the Capital of the United States to experience a bustling city full of American history, local attractions, and fun outdoor activities.
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