Thursday, January 9, 2014

DC favorites, Part I

This spring I will celebrate my 15th anniversary of living in the Washington, D.C. area. The city and region have so much to offer; its diversity of available experiences is probably the main reason I love living here.

The following are a few of my favorite places in the area. Because there so many wonderful and interesting spots (and I'm continually discovering new favorites!), I realized I'll need to break this topic into several posts.

Favorite bookstore: Politics and Prose
Polticis and Prose celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, but it has been a Washington institution for a while. Somewhat recently spoofed on Saturday Night Live, and visited by the likes President Obama and Hillary Clinton, calling the store anything other than an institution would be unimaginable. In addition to having a fantastic selection of adult books, P and P also has an amazing kids' section, incredibly knowledgeable staff, a good coffeehouse called Modern Times, and an impressive schedule of events. Some days as many as three different authors are present at the store, typically for both readings and book signings. More popular events, such as with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, are even organized at auditoriums in downtown DC.

Favorite museum: National Gallery of Art
One of the most amazing things about DC is the amount of free culture and entertainment any visitor can enjoy. All of the famous monuments are free to visit, as are the many museums that make up the Smithsonian. Because the National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian, even that can be enjoyed without paying an entrance fee. Tickets for the Kennedy Center's concerts, ballets, operas, etc are quite pricey, but every single day of the year, a free performance takes place in the center's foyer. Anyhow, you get my drift! Of the free offering and of all the museums (DC is also home to several that do charge admission), my favorite is the National Gallery of Art. It has a stunning permanent collection, and mind-boggling temporary exhibits. Every time I visit, I wonder why I don't make the time to stop by more often.

Favorite place for a stroll in nature: C&O Canal at Great Falls
The C&O Canal is a National Park that runs over 180 miles along the old Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath, beginning in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, and continuing into Maryland. My favorite spot is near the overlook for Great Falls on the Potomac River. It is beautiful any time of year, but these stunning photos show that the falls and river are gorgeous even on the coldest day in recent history. I typically go in warmer weather, and love seeing turtles sunning themselves on fallen trees in the canal, as well as herons patiently waiting to fish their dinner on the rocks in the river.

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