Dear PoPville – Crossing Constitution Ave during Rolling Thunder?

“Dear PoPville,

I am hoping you or your readers can weigh in on my wedding-weekend dilemma.

I am planning a Sunday afternoon picnic on the National Mall (near the Monument) for 50 people who are in town for Memorial Day weekend, the weekend of my wedding (wedding is Saturday night, picnic is Sunday afternoon). The issue is that 250,000 motocyclists will descend upon D.C. on Sunday for the Rolling Thunder parade. Constitution Ave will be closed to traffic. My question: will we even be able to cross Constitution on foot in order to plant ourselves down by the Monument for a picnic? Is this a really bad idea? If the Mall is a disaster for a big group picnic, are there any locations in the NW downtown area that you recommend for a picnic of 50 people?


I’d say – go to Meridian Hill Park instead. What do you guys think?

24 Comment

  • Meridian hill park or down by the Georgetown waterfront.

  • Just take Metro to L’Enfant, then walk up. Or try Rock Creek Park.

    • jburka

      Or Smithsonian station. You’d be better off on that part of the Mall anyway, as you’d have the Smithsonian buildings buffering you from the motorcycle noise on Constitution and Independence.

      The biggest question is how you were planning on getting people to the Mall in the first place… Are people already downtown, or were they planning on driving or taking metro?

      The Arboretum was also a pretty good idea!

    • Independence is blocked too.

      If you go to the Mall, use Smithsonian Station.

      The last thing you need is 500,000 bikers kicking 50 people’s assets for knocking 200 bikes down trying to cross a blocked off street.

      Go to Rock Creek.

  • Mitchell Park in Kalorama is BEAUTIFUL and usually very quiet. I’d try that.

  • I ran into some real trouble last year while Rolling Thunder was in town. Coming from Arlington by car, there was literally no way to get to the Mall area – I could circle around near the Waterfront or come in on I-66 and be north of Constitution, but no dice for the Mall itself. Pedestrian access was severely limited as well.

    My advice would be to steer clear of the closures and avoid the whole problem.

  • just go to the intersection you need to access; toss a bunch of skull print bandanas and toss a bunch of cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibiting pills in the gutter; wait for them to dive for the bait; voila! instant crosswalk!

  • Even if you can cross, it will be horribly, horribly loud. You won’t be able to have conversations. And last year, at least, when I found myself accidentally down there with some out-of-town guests, the police officers were in rare form, even for a holiday weekend in DC.

    I recommend finding another location. Meridian Hill Park, maybe the Ellipse or Lafayette Square? Logan Circle might even work…

  • I think you’d be wise to avoid the mall. Even if you get in with no problems, your picnic will be very loud, as those 250k motorcycles are not quiet.

    I’d go to Meridian Hill or Mitchell Park, but the easiest thing for your guests would probably be the new park on the georgetown waterfront. Good luck, enjoy, and congratulations!

  • I second the advise for another location. You can also use the new park near the Nationals stadium, “The Yards Park”. There seems to be plenty of parking.

  • If you are willing to expand the search area beyond downtown NW, I’d suggest one of the Rock Creek picnic sites or the Grove of State Trees at the Arboretum.

  • Georgetown waterfront park is far superior to Meridian hill. No homeless ppl.

  • I bet it’s gonna be extra messy down there with all the construction going on.

  • Ms. Wallace?
    If you are willing to walk – try the Jefferson. If not, Montrose Park in Georgetown is awesome and a quick walk from Foggy or Dupont.

    Since no one said it – Congrats on the nuptials!

    • Also if you do Montrose – you can grab a yummy quiche and/or cupcakes from Baked and Wired (On M and T. Jefferson).

  • Rock Creek Park picnic area #1 (Near Peirce Mill) – it has a shelter if it rains, bathrooms, plenty of parking and is metro accessible. (Cleveland Park station – then .5 mile beautiful walk down a trail through the woods.)

    You really don’t want to have to cross Memorial Bridge, though Roosevelt usually isn’t to bad, except rt. 50 can be snarly.

    If more people are in Va. and wanting to drive – go to Carterock in MD.
    just outside the beltway along the Clara Barton Pkwy. There is a pavilion, but also lots of space & picnic tables just for general use. Also beautiful & easy trails along the river for little walks. (The river might be over the trail in places right now.)

    • saf

      “Rock Creek Park picnic area #1 (Near Peirce Mill) – it has a shelter if it rains, bathrooms, plenty of parking and is metro accessible. (Cleveland Park station – then .5 mile beautiful walk down a trail through the woods.) ”

      This is my suggestion. My other suggestion is MAKE A RESERVATION!

      Go, walk in RIGHT NOW. The office is at 16th and Lamont. You may already be too late, but give it a try. That way you know you have the shelter. It would be bad to show up expecting to use it and find that some other group already had a permit and reservation!

      • Reservations are definitely a good idea – but area #1 is big enough that you can find room at the end of the field – with 4 tables and plenty of shade by the woods & creek even if the pavilion is already reserved.

  • I got trapped on the mall surrounded by RT last year – gawd awful. I don’t think it’s 250,000 motorcycles – the same ones just roar around the mall 250 times similar to the circling of NASCAR. And we were not allowed to cross Constitution or Independence even when we asked nicely and waited and waited. We visited 2 more museums, guess it could have been worse, such as friend needing to get to airport.

    • You haven’t seen the pictures of the bikes lined up in the Pentagon parking lot. It took 45 minutes for me to get out of the lot last year and I was in the middle of the first lot.

  • US Arboretum. Its lightly used. You could have a picnic of 100 and be fine. Plus, there are a ton of picnic tables on the south end.

  • You don’t want to be near the Mall on the weekend of Rolling Thunder. Can you change this? It doesn’t matter if you can cross Constitution IMHO. It’s loud, the engines create heat… if I were your guest, sorry, I would HATE it. Just being honest.

    You know what is terrific Montrose Park in Upper Georgetown. The motorcyclists won’t go there. Meridian Hill Park gives you a nice view of the White House so it’s still federalish. The Peirce Mill area is very pretty — the mill itself is closed. The area by Klingle Mansion (Is it open even? I don’t know) is super quiet and would be private-like.

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