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The 13 Greatest Outdoor Spaces in the District

by Prince Of Petworth — March 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm 46 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

To attempt to atone for last week’s unforgivable omission of Rock Creek Park – here are the 13 greatest outdoor spaces in DC (excluding the Mall and anyone who has a roof deck). This list was in no way influenced by the consumption of FEW Rye Whiskey:

13. Rock Creek Park, obviously, but also the streets that surround her in Forest Hills and Crestwood especially
12. Smaller parks – Meridian Hill Park, Lincoln Park, Crispus Attucks Park
11. All the circles but especially Grant and his gorgeous tree, of course
10. St. Elizabeth’s Campus and the view from the nearby Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
9. That little grotto by the Capitol
8. Hains Point
7. Hillwood and Dumbarton Oaks Gardens
6. Kingman Island, Teddy Roosevelt Island
5. By our rivers – Yards Park, Georgetown Waterfront, SW Waterfront river trail
4. Franciscan monastery
3. Rock Creek Cemetery, Congressional Cemetery
2. Arboretum
1. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

  • That MAn A

    this made me think of the “glass forest”

    is it still ravaged?

    • Good call I’ve been told it’s recently sprouted new art! Ach now I’m gonna have to atone for leaving them off the list for next week’s list…

      • That Man A

        perfect, just in time for spring
        should make for some trippy times

  • Anonymous

    Gravely Point should totally be on this list.

    • Beautiful spot but not in the District.

      • Anonymous

        Touche, you are correct. Easy to forget that with the Capitol and Washington Monument looming in the distance.

        • lmfb

          You should amend this list to be your fav places in or about the District. Then you could include Gravely Point, which is my favorite place “in” DC.

          • Anonymous

            It’s his website. If you want to make that list make your own website.

  • Anono

    nice. sort of #5 but I’d add the canal tow path

    • wolfpackwx

      Could add Capital Crescent Trail & C&O Canal Trail.

      • sarah

        definitely would vote for the c&o canal trail! one of my absolute favorites.

        • KenyonDweller

          Yes, both of those are winners in my book.

  • kook47797

    All are on my list EXCEPT Rock Creek. I find it creepy and too inaccessible to enjoy it much. I’d add:

    1.The yards/quads at Georgetown and Howard. They feel quintessentially collegiate… Catholic and GW, not so much.
    2. That valley behind Howard law school… forget you’re in the city up there.
    3. C&O Canal trail

    • xmal

      That valley is *part* of Rock Creek Park

  • Pixie

    Great list! I love all the beautful parks and trails we have here in DC.

  • Boozehound

    To some degree I’ve never quite understood the appeal of Kennilworth Gardens – it’s basically just a swamp with a small network of trails and wooden walkways. It’s nice, but in the the end, it’s just a swamp.

    • KenyonDweller

      Have you been when the lilies are blooming?

    • Anonymous

      If you’re into birds, there are some really great birds to see there that are hard to find in other places nearby. If you’re not into birds, I can see that it wouldn’t be a major draw. And yeah, when the lilies and lotus are in bloom it’s easy to forget it’s just a bunch of weird little square ponds!

      • Anonymous

        Also SO MANY TURTLES!

  • Lafayette is my favorite of the small parks. It’s absolutely stunning when all the Japanese magnolias are blooming, plus the regulars playing chess is free entertainment.
    Biggest omission = resurgence of outdoor beer gardens!

  • anon

    As an add-on to #7 – the Bishop’s Garden at the Cathedral!

    • Formerly Broken Jaw

      I agree!

  • Anon a Mouse

    You forgot the US Botanic Garden (inside and out…including Bartholdi Park).

  • SF

    Good list. Anacostia Park, especially the River Walk Trail, gets my vote.

  • Anonther

    Great list! Dumbarton Oaks park is one of my favorite parks anywhere, not just the district.
    No love for the Mall?! The memorials, the monuments, the museums, the elms, the open space, the reflecting pools. I love seeing people playing pickup games of frisbee with the capitol dome just right there — seems like just the right message of power and freedom.

    • Anonther

      Ack, just read the intro to the list – I guess you also put the Mall in a field of its own. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    How about Reno Park? It’s got awesome views of the city and some concerts in the summer time.

  • Anonymous

    I think the POP totally forgot about TR island and Glover Park. Yes, you need to go to Virginia to get to TR island, but it is in the District and one of the most beautiful parks in our area. The views of the river and Georgetown are amazing, and the TR statute is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. What other national monument is buried in the middle of the forest in the middle of the river in the middle of DC? And as for Glover Park, the trails are a walker’s paradise, no where nearly as crowded as Rock Creek and no noisy traffic either. It’s another awesome sanctuary in the city.

    • It’s #6 on the list…

    • Anonymous

      Glover Archbold is a great park, I agree that it’s a hidden gem and I’d put it above a couple of other entries on the list.

  • dno

    Great list. I’d add, from my experience anyway, a great alley that’s shared and enjoyed by friendly neighbors.

  • Anonymous

    1. a. Cantina Marina

    • Anonymous

      …is terrible?

  • Anon5

    No love for the Mall?

    • Anonymous

      Reading is hard!

  • Todd

    a few additional ones of mine:
    C&O canal pathway
    Franklin Roosevelt Memorial (i guess it’s part of Haines point, but merits special mention)
    Carter Barron (esp when they do Shakespeare in the park)
    Old Soldiers Home/Lincoln Cottage
    In the way of Hidden parks (for lunch): The park behind Christian Heurich House Museum off Dupont Circle

  • An on

    Any chance you’ll add pics to this list?

  • bruno

    Spanish Steps in Dupont/Kalorama. Best outdoor spot in the city IMHO.

  • Peter

    Left out canal park at the Capitol riverfront

  • dcd

    No love for the National Zoo?

  • Anonymous

    I think the list is backwards but otherwise great!

  • I’m glad to see the cemeteries getting some love on this list. Great places for a walk, and a history lesson as well.

  • Anonymous

    A stroll through Oak Hill Cemetery is always cool.


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