Five Things We Love About Washington, DC


In the public imagination, Washington, DC might be a city colored in red and blue—the colors of the Republican and Democratic parties—but the true color of the city is green. Across the map, green areas interrupt the city grid, from well-known greens such as the National Mall, to little parks tucked away in residential neighborhoods. Stretching the entire length of Washington, north to south, is the enormous Rock Creek Park—a seven square kilometer expanse of ungroomed forest. Hiking trails and bike paths cut through the park, past picnic areas, tennis courts, stables and a public golf course. The park runs along a creek, and next to the creek is Rock Creek Parkway, a shortcut favored by residents where traffic tends to flow fairly easily in a gridlocked city. On weekends, most of Rock Creek Parkway is closed off to cars and the park is turned over to cyclists, rollerbladers, hikers and joggers.

The eastward expansion of the city and the influx of new homeowners have brought sidewalk cafés and organic markets to street corners once dominated by liquor stores and pawn shops. Once found only in a few city areas, farmers markets are finding their way into these newly revitalized neighborhoods. On Saturdays and Sundays, farmers sell their locally grown vegetables and fruits, and, on occasion, farm-raised meat and home baked bread at markets across the city.

The incredible collection of Asian and Near Eastern art at the Freer Gallery of Art is a good reason to stop by the museum, and the almost-daily events—workshops, music performances and feature films—an even better reason. Admission is free and free tickets to the films are distributed an hour before show time. Across the Mall from the Freer, the National Gallery of Art puts on free classical music concerts by world-class musicians in the West Garden Court every Sunday throughout the season, which begins in October and ends in June.

Summer in Washington is a relay of underground arts and theater festivals. First out is Artomatic, which starts in mid-May and runs for a month. Around 700 local artists show their best pieces in locations that vary from year to year—Artomatic 2008 occupied an otherwise empty, ten-floor office building in NoMa, one of the city-designated business improvement districts. The free event, entirely run by volunteers, draws some 50,000 visitors. Out next is the three-week Source Festival, which starts in mid-June. The drama festival kicks off with three evenings of 10-minute playlets, ranging from silly to solemn, showcasing eight local playwrights each night. Capital Fringe Festival closes the summer festivals with 18 days of offbeat art, music and theater, divided up in 120 shows at 20 venues around the city.

National Capital Region of the National Park Service: 1100 Ohio Drive, SW. Tel: +1 202 619 7000. Dupont Circle Farmers Market: 20th Street, NW (between Q Street & Massachusetts Avenue), every Sunday year-round between 10 am and 1 pm. Eastern Market: 7th Street, SE (between C Street & North Carolina Avenue), Saturdays and Sundays between 7 am and 4 pm, year-round. The Freer Gallery of Art: 1200 Jefferson Drive, SW. Tel: +1 202.633.4880. National Gallery of Art: 401 Constitution Avenue, NW. Tel: +1 202 737 4215. Artomatic: Source Theatre: 1835 14th Street, NW. Tel: +1 202 315 1305. Capital Fringe Festival: 607 New York Avenue (performance venues vary). Tel: +1 202 737 7232.



© 2010. Karin Palmquist ( All rights reserved.