Nature Gor Your Fancy? – Washington DC, USA

Nature Got Your Fancy?

Audobon Naturalist Society
8940 Jones Mill Rd. Chevy Chase MD, (301) 652-9188
Free admission
Bird watchers will love visiting the 40-acre grounds of the headquarters of the Audobon Naturalist Society. The grounds contain numerous types of birds as seen in their natural habitat. There is also a bookstore that has books on everything you ever wanted to know about birds and ecology.

C&O Canal National Historical Park (#1 on my list)
1057 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, Georgetown Terminus of MacArthur Blvd., Great Falls, Potomac, MD (Foundry Mall) (Great Falls Tavern) (202) 653-5190 (301) 299-3613 or (301) 299-2026
Admission is $4 per axle
The C&O Canal, another of George’s great ideas, was to be a commercial waterway connecting the Ohio and Potomac rivers. It now serves as one of the DC area’s most popular parks. Streching from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD, the park is popular with joggers, bikers and canoeists.

April – October, visitors can take a ride down the C&O on a mule-drawn replica 19th century canal boat. There are several notable diversions in the park such as the Clara Barton National Historic Site and Glen Echo Park, which has a working carousel (Wed – Sun, May-late Sept) and is the site of festivals and activities for children. One can also rent bikes, boats and canoes at Thompson’s Boat Center or Fletcher’s Boathouse. See boating section for details.

East Potomac Park
Take Maine Ave. west or Ohio Drive south – Park located between Potomac and Washington Channel
Free Admission
East Potomac Park is a 328-acre park that contains public swimming pools, tennis courts, golf (see golf section), playgrounds and picnic tables. The two most notable features of the park are Hains Point and the Jefferson Memorial. Hains Point is a popular place to picnic and watch planes take off from Washington National Airport. It also has “The Awakening” sculpture of a giant rising from the earth. In April, the park is a popular place to see the blooming Japanese cherry blossom trees that are around the Tidal Basin.

Great Falls Park (# 2 on my list)
Route 193 and Old Dominion Drive, Great Falls, VA (703) 285-2966
Admission is $4 per axle or $2 per person (without vehicle)

Great Falls Park is a 800-acre park that straddles both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the eponymous falls. Inside the park (on the Maryland side) is The Great Falls Tavern, a museum and headquarters for the National Park Rangers that maintain the C&O Canal.

April – October, rangers take visitors on mule-drawn river barge rides down the C&OCanal. Great Falls Park has numerous trails for bikes and hikers, fishing spots and picnic areas that feature scenic views of the park. Areas for climbing and white-water kayaking are also provided. An urban outdoorsman’s paradise.

Rock Creek Park (#1 ½ on my list)
Between 16th Street & Connecticut Ave. NW (202) 426-6829

Free Admission
Rock Creek Park is an immensly popular park among Washingtonians. Originally built to defend Washington during the Civil War, four forts remain standing on park grounds. Well maintained bicycle, hiking and equestrian trails run past the forts and other sites, like Pierce Mill, a functional watermill (currently under restoration). More information about trails and park events is available from the rangers at the Nature Center and Planetarium located at 5200 Glover Rd. NW.(202-426-6829). The pretty grounds are also home to a popular 18-hole public golf course. (See Golf Section)

Theodore Roosevelt Island
Take the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge (located on west end of Constitution Ave.) to George Washington Memorial Parkway north. Follow signs to parking lot for foot bridge into park.
(703) 285-2598
Free admission

This 88-acre island is a natural preserve dedicated to the 26th President. Another popular park with Washingtonians, 2.5 miles of paths lead through the peaceful grounds.

U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave. NE (202) 245-2726
Free admission
The US National Arboretum is a 444-acre preserve that contains the National Herb Garden and the National Bonsai Collection. The multi-hued foliage is beautiful and the paths are well maintained. If you need a break from the hectic pace, the US National Arboretum is a nice place to visit.