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DC Off The Hill: Go outside!

April 7, 2009

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is this month, which means that tourist season in DC is in full swing. As much as I might have complained during the inauguration, I really love DC tourists. This is by far the biggest city that I’ve ever called home and I love the culture, character and friendliness of this city. I’m proud of my new hometown and love to share it with others.

However, I am saddened by the number of tourists who travel all the way to DC and never seem to find their way out of the National Mall. While the Smithsonian, the Capitol Building and various presidential monuments are awe inspiring, they don’t come close to the beauty of the city I call home.

So, in an attempt to correct this great injustice, for the rest of tourist season I will be hosting a periodic blog series titled “DC Off The Hill.” In honor of cherry blossom season, this post will be about the many beautiful outdoor spaces in and around DC where you can appreciate spring flowers without having to deal with the overwhelming crowds of the tidal basin.

  1. Mount Vernon Trail This is where my partner and I started our Cherry Blossom tour last week. We started our journey at the Rosslyn metro stop and followed the Potomac River to Roosevelt Island (which is only accessible by foot bridge and has a monument to Teddy Roosevelt). Then, we kept walking and admired the daffodil fields until we crossed the Arlington Bridge and ended with the tidal basin. The whole thing was between 8-10 miles.
  2. Malcolm x/Meridian Hill Park This is my favorite place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. It has the sort of old grandeur that city parks rarely posses anymore and you never know who you’re going to meet. Last week, I saw a woman wearing a ball gown made entirely out of balloons!
  3. Rock Creek Park A huge, mostly unlandscaped wild space that spans both DC and Maryland. A great way to get lost in the forest.
  4. The Franciscan Monastery I think this might be the most relaxing space in DC. I particularly love the rose gardens surrounded by mosaics.
  5. C&O Canal This is the only reason I ever agree to make the trek out to Georgetown. My favorite touristy activity around here is to take advantage of the canal boat rides that the National Park Service provides for $5 per person. You get to ride in a reburbished 1870’s canal boat (pulled by mules!) and listen to historic reenacters talk about the history of the canal. This would be a particularly fun thing to take small children to!
  6. The Bull Run-Occoquan Trail When I told my coworker that I was putting together a list of outdoorsy sights in and around DC, she told me I had to mention the blue bells that bloom along this trail, 25 miles from the city. She had fond memories of going here as a child, and I can see why. I’m putting this on my to-do list.

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