When writing the National Geographic Walking Washington, D.C., guidebook this past year, I walked the entire city. It was the most fun I've ever had on a job! I've lived in Washington for more than 20 years, and felt like I knew the place inside-out. Little did I know how wrong I was. Here are five things I discovered on my recent perambulations around the capital city.
1. Georgetown Waterfront Park
- Georgetown Waterfront Park has a labyrinth. That's right, a full-on sacred path in plain beautiful view of the Potomac River and Key Bridge. It can get crowded, and not necessarily by folks seeking quietude and introspection — this is Georgetown, after all. But stop by on an early morning when the partiers are still asleep and walk, or dance or sing, the spiral journey of discovery.
2. Food Trucks
- Food trucks on 7th Street, on the Mall! Never will your friends and family have to suffer through museum food again!
3. Dumbarton Oaks
- I've always heard of Dumbarton Oaks, thinking it was just a garden with a tiny, obscure museum. Little did I know the museum is an amazing house museum devoted to Byzantine and pre-Columbian art. The Blisses scoured the globe in search of exquisite pieces that force you to get in close and study the details ... tiny little mosaic paintings, intricately painted pottery, gleaming gold pendants. And, unlike the gardens, it's free!
4. Boundary Stones
- D.C.'s boundary between Maryland and Virginia was originally a diamond shape that, back in 1792, was delineated with 40 boundary stones — three-foot-tall cairns surveyed by George Washington himself. Most of these stones remain standing to this day, in plain view along busy roadways, tucked away in people's front yards, beneath a lighthouse along the Potomac River, one or two in a cemetery. Set out to find them all. Warning: SE9 is a bear to find.
5. Kreeger Museum
- The Kreeger Museum in upper Georgetown has an amazing collection of modern art — and, since no one seems to know about this artsy gem, you most likely will have the place to yourself. The dining room especially is a treat, hung with pretty colored Monets. Even better, the sculpture garden outside is a perfect spot to picnic on a sunny day among modern sculptures.