It’s finally springtime in the District, which means you can take advantage of the beautiful weather before the summer’s humidity kicks in. Here are some outdoor options to maximize the last few weeks of spring in D.C.
For a connection to nature: National Arboretum
Greek architecture meets natural beauty at the National Arboretum – a major center for botanical research featuring a library with over 10,000 volumes of botany books.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as an escape from studying for a few hours. Stop by the National Herb Garden for the alluring aromas of dozens of herbs, and experience more than 100 varieties of roses. For a more exotic view, check out the bonsai exhibit – a Japanese art of growing ornamental, artificially-dwarfed trees.
Take a page out of District history, and walk through the National Capitol Columns – an arrangement of twenty-two Corinthian columns originally from the Capitol building. The columns sit by a serene reflective pool.
The Asian gardens are perfect for a picnic, so be sure to pack a light lunch for you and your friends.
3501 New York Ave. NE
Nearest Metro stop: Stadium-Armory
For a boutique farmer’s market experience: Eastern Market
If you’re tired of the indoor mall scene, trade Pentagon City with Eastern Market for an upscale farmer’s market experience.
You can shop to the soft strumming of a guitar or the crooning of a saxophone on streets lined with musicians. Walk through the stands to see homemade art and trinkets by D.C. artisans including hand-woven sun hats, hand-painted pottery and personalized coins. There’s something to suit every quirk, whether you’re hoping to pick up a working traffic light for your “man cave” ($100) or a bobblehead clock ($5).
Eastern Market is also a great one-stop shop for all things vintage: Pick up Freddie Jackson on vinyl ($16) or an antique map ($45). If comics are your thing, take a look at some of the originals for sale, such as the Amazing Spider Man for $25.
Skip the prices at Whole Foods, and check out the farmer’s market for fresh, local produce. Many of the sellers keep out samples of their products – one stand laid out seven different types of apples, from sour granny-smith to sweet fiji.
225 7th St. SE
Nearest Metro stop: Eastern Market
For the view: Sculpture Garden
Peaceful meets postmodern at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden – a top destination for both tourists and residents alike.
Conveniently located between the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art, the sculpture garden offers art, food and jazz. If you’re hungry, you can grab a bite to eat at the Sculpture Garden Pavilion Cafe, including pizza ($9) and hot and cold sandwiches ($9.75 to $10).
A walk around the garden will draw you into a landscape of contemporary art in funky shapes, a myriad of metals and brassy shades. Even if contemporary artwork isn’t your thing, the sculptures are so rife with humor and wit that even the most amateur of art connoisseurs can appreciate them.
If you’ll be in D.C. over the summer, keep an eye out for the local jazz artists that will perform Friday nights in the garden starting in late May.
Constitution Avenue & 7th Street
Nearest Metro stop: Federal Triangle
For an outdoor walk through history: Theodore Roosevelt Island
Escape the urban rush for a day on the wooded Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River.
Getting there is an adventure – the footbridge leading to the island is at least a 15 to 20 minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro Station – but the journey is worth it.
Roosevelt Island is the perfect place for an active or relaxing day. You can bring a book and find a grassy spot to read or wander along the different terraced trails totaling almost three miles.
If you own or rent a kayak or canoe from elsewhere – they’re not available to rent on the island – you can bring it for a day on the river.
You can also take your photo by the only memorial of Theodore Roosevelt in the District. Located in the Memorial Plaza, the memorial contains four massive granite tablets with quotes from “the Great Conservationist” surrounding a 17-foot-tall statue of the former President with one arm raised.
Nearest Metro stop: Rosslyn