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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 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.
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.
If you're looking for something to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, head to the Tidal Basin. Set in picturesque and scenic surroundings, its truly a visual treat. Located between the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, it covers a vast area of 107 acres. Tidal Basin is also utilized as a means for flushing the Washington Channel. It is maintained and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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 stop in for a pint at one of the numerous pubs overflowing with college kids. After you get your fill of the hoopla, stroll off the main strip onto the tree-shaded streets filled with Georgian and Victorian townhouses that are home to many politicians and celebrities.
This monument is not only a memorial to the nation's 32nd president, but also to the people of his time. The monument stretches along the Tidal Basin with four outdoor gallery rooms and is connected by granite passageways. Each room exhibits aspects of Franklin D. Roosevelt's terms in office. The second room, for example, depicts the Great Depression with statues waiting in a bread line. Another room contains a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, the only memorial to honor a First Lady. The monument also features waterfalls and pools.
With its funky shops and trendy restaurants and bars, Dupont Circle is one of the hippest 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.
The elegant Main Hall with its vaulted ceiling more than 90-feet high and marble floors is reminiscent of the days when railway travel was fashionable. Union Station opened in 1908 and fell into severe 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.
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.
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. In addition, 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.