We Might Be Waiting For Election Results For Awhile, So You Might As Well Take a Break and Go Outside
Waiting is never easy, especially this election season. While you may be considering eating and drinking your feelings away, you could channel your anxiety into a relaxing walk and find joy in nature instead. Here are some outdoor spots in DC to take a break from, well everything.
This 1,200-acre green space is a hidden gem that also happens to be the biggest park on the east coast (bigger than Central Park in NYC!). It has great trails for cycling, jogs or long walks and conveniently connects Anacostia to Navy Yard and to H Street corridor. It also has beautiful riverfront views with almost endless open grass area for picnics, play, etc and it happens to be one of the best bird-watching locations in DC.
For a park so close to downtown DC, this 50-acre expanse roughly between the Lincoln and World War II memorials is surprisingly little-visited. Sit and read, people-watch, daydream, or simply gaze at the ducks and geese gliding in the pond in the shadow of the Washington Monument. (If you’re lucky, you might spot a great blue heron on the bank.) Don’t miss the memorial to the Declaration of Independence’s 56 signers.
Tucked away between Woodley Park and Cleveland Park is Tregaron Conservancy, a historic woodland oasis where you'll find a magnificent carpet of 20-acres of open fields, woodlands, stone bridges, formal gardens, trails, a pond, and meandering streams. A brick Georgian Revival mansion crowns the hilltop with amazing views in every direction. It feels like getting lost in the English countryside, right in the middle of DC.
In 1940, former Soviet Union Ambassador Joseph Davies and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post (owner of General Foods and the Hillwood Estate in DC), purchased the estate upon their return from the country. They renamed it Tregaron, which is Welsh for “village of three wells.” So enamored with Russia, they added a dacha, among other Russian features, to the estate. There are hidden trails and rustic staircases to explore, plus trails that connect to the Rock Creek trail via the Klingle Valley trail allowing you to easily go from a gentle amble to a more strenuous walk or job.
Kingman and Heritage Islands
Kingman and Heritage Islands are natural parklands found on the Anacostia River in Northeast DC. Locals know it as the site of the popular Kingman Island Festival, but minus the crowds and music stages, there are over 50 acres of green space to be explored on these two island habitats. This Southeast gem is a little off the beaten path, but is perfect for people looking for a spot removed from the crowds. You'll find heavily wooded trails, broad bridges over the river, and peace and quiet. Wooded trails, river views, and wetlands comprise much of the sights to be experienced when visiting the park. But if you pause on the bridge or take to the water in a kayak, you can see RFK Stadium in the distance. More secluded than Roosevelt Island, the park offers hikers the chance to glimpse jasmine trees, monarch butterflies, and other natural beauties.
Southwest Duck Pond
The Southwest Duck Pond is a labor of love for the community it serves. The pocket park is a charming oasis with a bubbling fountain and three “peninsulas” jutting out into the water, each providing space for intimate clusters of two or three lounge chairs. The park is essentially a dense collection of private bubbles, with a dozen or so seating clusters located far enough away from each other for privacy, but close enough for a pleasant people-watching experience. The Duck Pond is a small square with just 480 feet to each side, but the canopy of shade trees make it feel like a vast green living room. Many Southwest Washingtonians enjoy yoga, circuit training, ice cream socials, holiday events, and the farmers market here.
The 59 acres surrounding National Cathedral were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and include the formal Bishop’s Garden, Olmsted Woods, and more. Enclosed by stone walls, the medieval-style Bishop’s Garden includes a fish pond, cherry blossoms, and a 13th-century Norman arch. You’ll also discover artifacts dating from as far back as the 9th Century A.D. Follow the winding path through Olmstead Woods, one of the only old-growth forests in DC, and escape what Olmstead called “the hurly-burly and busy-ness of a work-a-day world.” Now the Woods include a stone footpath, the Pilgrim Way, a contemplative circle, native wildflowers and shrubs, and a host of migratory birds. The grounds are beautiful and tranquil, and are always open, and free.
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Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it