Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer. After so many snowy, cold months, we are ready to be outside and exploring.
In just a few weeks, the cherry blossom trees will begin to bud and bloom. The daffodils and tulips will pop their faces to the sun, and I believe we are all going to feel a little more hopeful.
Planning a getaway? Looking for place with an abundance of outdoor activities, and where you can learn history and experience nature? Washington D.C. has got you covered. When you stroll the city’s less busy neighborhoods and historic sites, it’s easy to adhere to social distancing. Here are six lesser-known, but truly delightful stops, where you can go for a walk and enjoy Washington in the spring.
Stop 1: Visit the Marine Corps War Memorial in the moonlight. This towering clutch of soldiers raising the American flag honors the Marines that fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. From this elevated vantage point in Arlington, Virginia, you’ll be treated to a unique perspective – D.C.’s iconic landmarks, the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, all lined up in perfect synchronicity. It’s a sight to behold. The memorial is located in Rossyln, near the foot of Key Bridge across the river from Georgetown.
Stop 2: Visit the Newest Presidential Memorial. Stroll around the new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial which opened in October of 2020 – you’ll find it across from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, the Eisenhower Memorial features different periods in the former President’s life – his childhood, his military service during World War II and his contributions to Civil Rights and American democracy. Before you walk through, download the audio tour that describes the significance of each section of the memorial. It’s also quite magical at night when the graphic wall behind the statues lights up.
Stop 3: Go for a hike at Theodore Roosevelt National Monument. There’s nothing like a rousing hike to enjoy nature and see wildlife while learning a little presidential history. Theodore Roosevelt Island is located off the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington. The memorial has trails with unique views of the city and celebrates the president who established the National Park system.
Stop 4: Visit Old Town Alexandria. Do you love historic architecture, peeking into shops, walking along the river? Alexandria is your place. The charming neighborhood bordering the Potomac River was founded in the 18th century, and most of the buildings are beautifully preserved. Old Town Alexandria was partly surveyed by none other than George Washington — and has a King, Queen, Prince, Duke and Princess Street. Stop in the Torpedo Factory to shop for artisan creations and dine al fresco at the bistros along King Street. It’s a real-life Dickens Village, complete with European flair.
Stop 5: Visit Logan Circle, a historic neighborhood with beautiful architecture. Located just east of the vibrant Dupont Circle is the lesser known but picturesque Logan Circle, one of the city’s most fashionable neighborhoods. Find elegantly restored town houses situated around the only residential circle in Washington. The circle features an equestrian statue of General Logan surrounded by 19th-century Victorian-era brownstones; Duke Ellington grew up playing music in this park.
Stop 6: Visit National Harbor, a resort-like neighborhood in Prince George’s County, Maryland. This modern waterfront development spans more than 350 acres and is located on the shores of the Potomac River across from Old Town Alexandria. Take a ride on The Capitol Wheel, the 175-foot Eye of London–style observation Ferris Wheel, to see panoramic views of Washington, D.C., or take a walk along the river, where you can grab hold of a giant bronze hand or foot, parts of a statue called The Awakening.
Would you like more of my insider information about my hometown? For new ideas about what to do in and around Washington DC this spring, you can buy my 2020 guidebook The Unofficial Guide to Washington D.C. Order it here.
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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.