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The Rock Creek Park contains a beautiful wild forest and serves as an oasis for city residents and tourists. Attractions include picnic areas, winding trails and bike paths, a nature center, a public golf course, tennis courts and stables. The centerpiece is a working gristmill, complete with a turning water wheel. Rock Creek Parkway runs alongside the meandering creek. Parts of the road are closed to traffic on weekends and turned over to cyclists and roller bladers. Although the Metro is nearby, a car is required to visit many of the key sites in a single trip. The park is also a popular spot in the winter for sledding, snowballs and other outdoor merriment.
A variety of European park styles are on display here at Meridian Hill Park, from long French promenades to Renaissance terraces. Waterfalls and pools abound among curling pathways. Especially delightful is the water staircase, a terraced waterfall. Nearby is the historic Adams-Morgan neighborhood, which features myriad ethnic restaurants and eclectic shops.
The gorgeous U.S. Botanic Garden conservatory presents botanical variety, from the desert to the tropics, along a series of calm and gently meandering paths. A particular waterfall and garden display the flora of the dinosaur age. Seasonal displays include Christmas greens and poinsettias in December and January, chrysanthemums in autumn and blooming flowers at Easter. A part of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the National Garden, was opened in October 2006 and includes the carefully-designed Butterfly Garden.
Farragut Square is the epicenter of corporate Washington DC, so don't be surprised to see lots of serious-looking people walking about. The square though, is filled with an upbeat ambiance where picnickers can enjoy the sounds of street musicians in summer. On Thursdays in the summer months, the square hosts free jazz at lunchtime. A statue of Civil War Admiral David Farragut stands in the middle of the square, spyglass in hand. Farragut coined the phrase “Full speed ahead!” during the 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
With its funky shops and trendy restaurants and bars, Dupont Circle is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Washington. Its cosmopolitan air draws visitors both young and old. Once a neighborhood of old money and the nouveau riche, Dupont Circle today is home to artists, intellectuals and young professionals. The neighborhood's turn-of-the-century mansions and brownstones, formerly home to prominent families, today house art museums, restaurants, embassies and fun shops. Dupont Circle is also home to the Phillips Collection, one of the city's foremost art museums with paintings by Renoir, Degas and Cézanne.
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.
The elegant Main Hall, with its vaulted ceiling more than 90-feet high and marble floors, is one of the most attractive features of this station. Union Station opened in 1908 and fell into disrepair in the 1940s. It underwent a monumental restoration project and reopened in 1988. Restaurants, including an international food court, and more than 100 specialty shops draw visitors. Its proximity to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol make it a perfect midday stop for lunch. Still a working train station, Amtrak has service from here to all points in the country.
This historic neighborhood is lined with trendy boutiques and fine restaurants. The abundant nightlife in Georgetown draws both locals and visitors. Just wander down busy M Street and Wisconsin Avenue and explore the eclectic shops, or step in for a pint at one of the numerous pubs overflowing with college kids. You can also stroll off the main strip onto the tree-shaded streets filled with Georgian and Victorian townhouses that are home to many politicians and celebrities.