Colonials Weekend Guide: Avoid the crowd

Kennedy Center rooftop

Hop on the free shuttle bus to the John F. Kennedy Center that leaves the Foggy Bottom Metro stop every 15 minutes for one of the city’s best views. Located on the banks of the Potomac River, the high-ceilinged building is surrounded by a wall of willow trees and boasts the flag-covered Hall of Nations and Hall of States, complete with a terrace restaurant and café. A panoramic view of Virginia and Maryland’s thick trees, spanning from Georgetown’s church steeple to the Capitol building, greets those who step outside onto the roof terrace. After scoping out the view, check out the Mariinsky Ballet in the Opera House or “Songs of Migration” in the Terrace Theater, both playing this weekend.
2700 F St., NW, open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Grave

Media Credit: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Grave
Corey Zagone | Hatchet Photographer

Unbeknownst to many, literary icon F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald are buried just minutes outside the city, in Rockville, Md. Steps from the suburb’s Metro stop is the small Old Saint Mary’s Church Cemetery, nestled between a busy highway intersection. The grave site has largely flown under the radar, with the occasional visitor leaving commemorative cigarette packages and martini glasses on the stone. Trek here to become the envy of Gatsby wannabees, rather than visiting the more popular Congressional Cemetery.
520 Veirs Mill Road, Rockville, Md.

George Washington Masonic Memorial

We all recognize the Washington Monument, but how many Americans have been to the lesser known memorial dedicated to the same Founding Father? The pagoda-like museum honors our school’s namesake not just as a president, but as the exemplification of Masonic values. Many modern Freemasons hold meetings here, surrounded by Revolution-era paintings and busts, and presided over by a large bronze statue of the man himself under the gilded rotunda. If you read Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” and want to learn the truth behind the myth of Masonry, take an educational tour.
101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria Va., open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

P.O.V Rooftop Lounge & Terrace

On the top of a picturesque downtown boutique hotel lies the city’s best kept viewing secret. But you don’t have to be a guest of the W Hotel Washington to enjoy its rooftop bar and restaurant, P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge and Terrace. Ride the elevator to the top floor and grab a table alongside the railing that separates you from the White House Lawn beneath. This is not a tourist hangout: The only crowds you’ll push through don business suits – not fanny packs. Look down at the Secret Service standing guard on the White House Roof and the Arlington National Cemetery across the away. Extra points rewarded for spotting nearby GW buildings.
515 15th St., NW, Sundays to Thursdays 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Fridays to Saturdays 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

National Museum of Health and History

If you’ve exhausted the Smithsonian circuit, break free from the National Mall and escape to the National Museum of Health and History. Founded in 1862 as the Army Medical Museum for the study of the anatomy of war-affected bodies, the museum now conducts pathology and neurology research in its new building. Expect thousands of skeletal specimens and organs, along with the remnants of one very famous Washington resident: Abraham Lincoln. Among the collection are pieces of his hair and skull, a bloody shirt cuff from the autopsy surgeon and the bullet that killed him. While not for the faint of stomach, this museum is a must see for science enthusiasts.
2500 Linden Lane, Silver Spring, Md., open daily, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Meridian Hill Park

Media Credit: Boting Wu | Hatchet Photographer
Meridian Hill Park

Central Park may be the nation’s most famous urban park, but Meridian Hill Park is certainly a competitor for the title of most beautiful. Before the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences moved to Foggy Bottom and became known as GW, students attended classes here. When the U.S. government bought the land and handed it over to the Department of the Interior in 1914, the idea for an Italian-style garden was hatched. The park was soon constructed to evoke Europe’s great capital cities, with 13-basin terraced Renaissance fountain and French Baroque gardens. To find sophistication within one of D.C.’s most crowded neighborhoods, bring a picnic lunch and a pot of tea to this off-the-beaten-path national historiclandmark.
Bounded by 16th, Euclid, 15th, and W streets, NW., open daily, 7 a.m. to dark

The Yards Park

The newest green space in D.C. is also in the most unorthodox spot in D.C. This 2-year-old park on the southeastern banks of the Potomac River, sandwiched between the Washington Navy Yard and Nationals Park, exemplifies modern urban planning with its futuristic, tunnel-like metal bridge and stark surroundings. Complete with a boardwalk, a canal basin, fountains and a light show, the development exudes a highly industrial and utilitarian feel compared to D.C.’s reputation as more of a living, breathing antique than of a city. While one of the benefits of the nation’s capital is the historic nature of its buildings, streets and waterways, The Yards Park offers a reprieve in the form of a harbinger of a metropolitan future.
300 Water St., SE, open daily, 7 a.m. to dark

The Kreeger Museum

Distance yourself from the hordes at the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum and slip off quietly to the Kreeger Museum, where you can spend some one-on-one time with Picasso. Nestled behind high gates in the tree-lined hills of Georgetown, this private collection centers on 19th and 20th century painters, with works by Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Chagall. Framed by a sizable sculpture garden and Asian and African collections, the museum offers free guided tours throughout the day.
2401 Foxhall Road NW, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

National Museum of American Jewish Military History

This two-floor museum in Dupont Circle is funded by the Jewish War Veterans and features permanent exhibits that explore the contributions of Jews to the war effort, including women in the military. Visit the collections of artifacts and photos.
1811 R St. NW, Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gravelly Point Park

Perhaps you’ve wondered what life is like on the tarmac, or always wanted to feel the runway beneath your feet. In that case, head across the river to Gravelly Point Park to close to airplanes taking off from and landing in Reagan National Airport. This parkalso serves as a popular spot for cyclists and runners in the mood for a change of scenery.
George Washington Memorial Parkway, Arlington Va., 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Great Falls Park

Are your visitors looking for adventure? Take them to Great Falls Park to find the wilderness just a few miles north of the city. Funded by George Washington, the park began as a system of canals for barges to circumvent the treacherous falls and trade. Ultimately, flooding destroyed the wooden canals and the space became a national park in 1966. If whitewater kayaking, hiking or rock climbing do not appeal to you, the part has trails and cliffs.
9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, Va., Daily, 7 a.m. to dark

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