Early morning is the time to catch the blooming water-bound plants of this park. Run by the National Park Service, the 12-acre marshland park is often overlooked by visitors who head for better-known Washington sites. As a result, the park is an uncrowded getaway. Nature-lovers and children especially will enjoy more than 100,000 flowering plants and fauna sightings.
Skirted by the surging waters of Rock Creek, the National Zoological Park is a forerunner for the title of America's finest wildlife facilities. It was created by Congress in 1889, making it one of the oldest zoos in the country. The zoo was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and New York's Central Park. The zoo is famous for its giant pandas from China but you will find all sorts of creatures, both familiar and exotic, crawling about the place. The zoo's Asia Trail gets you acquainted with fishing cats, clouded leopards and other Asian animals. Also, the zoo is home to the Elephant Trails, Lemur Island, Cheetah Conservation and Great Cats, where you can witness mighty lions and tigers in action. Birds and reptiles from across the world also call the Smithsonian National Zoological Park their home.
Great Falls Park, straddling both banks of the Potomac River, offers stunning views. The more attractive side of the park lies in Virginia. Rushing whitewater pours through steep, jagged crevices into a narrow gorge. Photographers, hikers, and nature-lovers find much to enjoy here. The park offers many trails, and the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal parallels the river. Fishing is allowed, but only with a valid permit. Kayaking, canoeing and rafting is recommended for advanced outdoors-men only. The Maryland side also features Great Falls Tavern with displays of canal history. One-hour round trip barge excursions are offered on a restored stretch of the canal from April to November.
This former amusement park changed its focus from thrilling rides to artistic amusements, many of which are directed at families. A beautiful hand-carved carousel is the only ride still operating in the park, now administered by the National Park Service. Visitors will find plenty of entertainment ranging from performances at the Puppet Company Playhouse to children's stories at the Adventure Theatre. Dances like swing, square-dancing and the waltz, among others, are held at the Spanish Ballroom.
If you're visiting DC and you're a beer connoisseur, DC Brau is a great place to visit. The brewery, one of the few easily accessible within the city, offers tours of its premises, tastings and a number of events across the week. The best part is, you don't have to leave the kids home! They can visit too, and learn about the fascinating methods and science behind brewing beer, though of course, you have to be 21 years old to enjoy a glass.
One of the world's foremost universities, Georgetown University offers much more than just lectures and books. Famous speakers from around the globe make a point of stopping at this renowned institution to give speeches, sit in on panels, or simply meet students and answer questions. The grounds of the university also offer a spectacular setting for an afternoon stroll. Healy Hall, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, is one of the finest examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture in the nation. The oldest building on campus, Old North, has acted as a soap box for multiple presidents, including George Washington and Bill Clinton. Not too far off M Street, Georgetown is a must if you find yourself in the neighborhood.
A famous research library and museum, located in Washington DC, the Dumberton Oaks Fellowship House is as renowned among the general public as it is with educationists and researchers. This historic property is situated in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC and served as the living quarters of Robert Woods Bliss (founder of the Dumberton Oaks Research Library and Collection). The property was acquired by the prestigious Harvard University in 1940. The institute specializes in fellowship and specialization programs in the fields of landscape design and architecture, garden designing, Pre-Columbian and Byzantine empire studies. The research library and institute features sprawling lush green gardens within its premises.
The Dumbarton Oak Park is a public park that includes woodland gardens spread over 27 acres (10.9 hectares) of land. Native as well as exotic flora in the fountain terrace feature wildflowers and shrubs, and this park also has several benches, footbridges and waterfall dams. Its verdant landscape and natural surroundings make it a must visit when in the city.
Georgetown Waterfront was an industrial area bustling with lumber and cement factories. However, due to the efforts and suggestions of National Capital Planning Commission, Georgetown Waterfront Park has now been developed. The grassy place offers panoramic views of the Kennedy Center and the Key Bridge against the back-drop of the enormous skyline. Also worth experiencing are the park's various mini attractions like the River Steps, Labyrinth and Fountain. Visitors to the park can spend their time biking or walking around the park or simply taking in the spectacular views.
George Mason Memorial was built to commemorate its namesake who was one of the founding fathers of the United States. Located near the Jefferson Memorial, it stands in the West Potomac Park amidst a well maintained grove of trees and flowers. The memorial features a larger than life statue of the statesman seated on a marble bench with legs crossed in an 18th-century attire replete with a tricorne hat and buckled shoes. There is also a circular fountain and pool included in this site.