Speaking of Washington, D.C.
Most people think of the National Parks of the U.S. as being large tracks of land such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Great Smoky Mountains. But did you know that there are a number of national parks right in the midst of Washington, D.C.?
1. President’s Park
The President of the United States actually lives in a National Park!
While the grounds of the President’s Park are generally open year-round, certain park areas may be closed at times on a temporary basis by the U.S. Secret Service. This is done to provide security for the safety of the public, of the White House occupants, and of the White House complex itself.
The White House Visitor’s Center is closed at this time for renovations. You can visit the temporary Visitor’s Center located at the Ellipse Pavilion Complex just southeast of the White House.
Here you can ask questions at the information desk, view “Where History Lives,” a 30-minute film on the White House, and browse the gift shop run by the White House Historical Association.
2. National Mall and Memorial Parks
The National Park Service is charged with the maintenance and support of the National Mall and the Memorial Parks. This includes the iconic memorials such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the newest addition – the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
There are 150 Memorial Parks to visit. This term covers circles, reserves, fountains, and park areas.
Two of the most popular are Constitution Gardens, a 50-acre park where the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is located; and Potomac Park, which includes the Tidal Basin, home to the 3700 cherry trees gifted to the United States by Japan. Plus 148 more!
To facilitate your experience as you visit these memorials and parks, the National Park Service offers a
free app for your mobile device.
3. George Washington Memorial Parkway
This lovely parkway, maintained by the National Park Service, has been designated an “All American Road,” as a National Scenic Byway. This means that the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the parkway for meeting natural, archeological, recreational, cultural, historic, and scenic “intrinsic qualities.”
The parkway was designed as a road that encourages “recreational driving,” and takes you to sites that commemorate important events in American history. And its scenic beauty, along with a network of trails, gives the visitor a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C.’s metropolitan area and enjoy a place to play and to rest.
4. Rock Creek Park
This 1754-acre park follows the course of Rock Creek as it crosses the Maryland/Washington, D.C. border. Considered by many to be a hidden gem, Rock Creek Park is one of the oldest National Parks in the U.S., having been established by Congress in 1890, the same year that the more well-known Yosemite National Park was created.
Rock Creek Park offers picnic areas along the creek, under majestic trees where you can enjoy fresh air, the sounds of birds, and even a sighting of a wild animal or two.
There are also several recreational facilities in the park including an equestrian trail, a challenging golf course, and even an outdoor concert venue. The National Park Service’s only planetarium, built in 1960, is also here, located in the Nature Center.
5. National Capital Parks – East
Stretching from Capitol Hill across 8,000 acres to the Maryland suburbs, National Capital Parks-East consists of 13 park sites that offer recreational, as well as cultural and historic parklands for exploration.
Some of the more well-known National Capital Parks include:
- Anacosta Park, is one of Washington, D.C.’s largest recreational areas. Its 1200 acres not only offer picnic sites, ball fields, and boating, but is also the home of the United States Park Police helicopter unit known as “Eagles Nest.”
- Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, is the only national park created for the propagation of water plants. Here you can see a multitude of beautiful, rare, waterlilies and lotus flowers. You can also explore the last remaining tidal marsh in Washington, D.C.
- Fort Washington Park commemorates Ft. Washington, the only fort ever to defend the capital city. The fort that is seen today was built in 1824 (the original one having been destroyed during the War of 1812), and was situated to have a good view down the Potomac River to train cannons on advancing enemy ships.
Visiting this park you have extensive bike and hiking paths, as well as picnic areas, and even fishing in the river. You’ll also want to explore the museum, and stay to watch the historical re-enactments that are presented periodically.
Exploring Washington, D.C.’s National Parks gives you beautiful scenery, recreational activities, and history and culture, all in one easy-to-access area.
About the author:
Alice Perkins is a timeshare travel blogger for RedWeek.com, the largest online market place for timeshare rentals, where vacationers can find luxury accommodations for less than the cost of a typical hotel room.
Great Article! THANKS Tigga.org