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. 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 pleasant park is situated just north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. With its flat terrain and location right on the water, the park attracts cyclists and boaters, but its biggest draw is probably the close proximity to the airport (a mere 400 feet away). People come to watch the planes land and take off, flying in low right above them. An added bonus is a nice view of the Washington skyline.
Constructed in the mid-1700s, this Georgian manor was owned by George Mason, a statesman and one of the authors of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Guided tours of the house feature the elaborate interior woodcarvings and period furniture. Outside the house, visitors can walk through formal boxwood gardens, with a view of the Potomac River. Various outbuildings, the kitchen, schoolhouse and laundry room can be seen as well. Visitors can try their hand at archaeological excavation and have a chance to discover original artifacts.
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.
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.
DC Harbor Cruises offers visitors a chance to appreciate the city from a whole new angle. Cruise down the Potomac river as you take in the lovely sights. A nice way to spend an afternoon or evening, it's a chance to experience something unique. Whether you want to check out the beautiful Cherry blossoms, or you want to relax with a few drinks on the river and enjoy the scenery, it's a good option for families as well as groups and couples. They also have a variety of specialty cruises like a Wine and Cheese Cruise and a Fall Foliage Cruise.
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.