Plans for your July 4th week staycation and beyond!
Washington, DC has an abundance of historical sites, beautiful vistas and fun activities, and some of them are quite close to home. Here are a few nearby things to do and places to see, whether you have out-of-town guests to entertain or are looking for a great time in and around the neighborhood.
Best of all – some of these activities and sites are available to us well into the fall and even year-round. And if we missed any favorites, please comment below so we’re sure to include them in future roundups.
Enjoy our national park
Rock Creek Park has a number activities and sights for all ages.Spend an evening with the stars… and the planets. One Saturday each month from April through November, the National Capital Astronomers and NPS set up telescopes just south of the intersection of Military and Glover Roads. Click here for times and details.
Go stargazing – indoors. Do the summer stars come out after your littlest guests go to bed? Rock Creek Nature Center at 5200 Glover Road (off Military) has the only planetarium in the national parks system. The planetarium shows each weekend are for ages 5 and up.
Search the skies and trees for bird life. Rock Creek is especially popular with birders during the migration season, but many species summer here. They literally flock to the area around the Nature Center, so that’s a good place to start.
Interact with the wildlife. Within the Nature Center are exhibits on the local critters, including some live animals. On Fridays at 4 p.m., you can help feed the critters if you are four years old or older. Or go nature spotting on nearby hiking trails. These brochures show the way.
Go horseback riding. Out-of-town visitors are usually surprised to find a forest in the heart of the city. One of the best ways to see it is on horseback. The Rock Creek Horse Center is adjacent to the nature center at 5100 Glover Road. Rangers lead one-hour trail rides for groups of up to four. Visit rockcreekhorsecenter.com for the schedule and to reserve a spot.
Explore the Rock Creek tributaries. Soapstone Valley is a well-known and well-loved hiking spot. The Broad Branch and Linnean Streams are also fun to explore. These streams were confined to underground pipes for decades, before being brought back to the light – and back to life – in a 2014 “daylighting.”
Where history comes alive
Explore Marjorie Merriweather Post’s mansion and garden. The Hillwood Museum, at the home of the heiress to the Post cereal fortune, is famous for its beautifully-kept gardens and Fabergé egg collection. The museum at 4155 Linnean Avenue also hosts special exhibits and events. Annual summer events include Hillwood’s Bastille Day celebration.
Keep your nose to the grindstone. Peirce Mill, at 2539 Tilden Street, will take you further back in time, with demonstrations showing off the latest in early 19th century corn-grinding technology. The mill is open to visitors Wednesday through Sunday, from April through October. The milling demonstrations are on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, and they often include period crafts and games for the kids.
Music at the Market, punk at the park
Rock out with some up-and-coming DC-area bands. Truly an all-ages show: Toddlers, teens, parents and grandparents gather at Fort Reno Park for what historically has been a twice-weekly summer concert series. The schedule and lineup will be posted at fortreno.com.
A more eclectic mix at Forest Hills Playground. Music is a more recent summer tradition at the park 32nd and Chesapeake Streets. The 2014 playground renovation gave the park an amphitheater that the Friends of Forest Hills Playground is putting to good use, with monthly concerts during the summer. Check the playground’s Facebook page and listserv for updates.
So much to do, so little time…
Go swimming at the Wilson pool (passes for non-resident youths and seniors-$4, adults-$7). Visit the farmers markets at UDC and Sheridan School. Hear authors discuss their works at Politics & Prose. Take the little ones to Saturday story circle at Soapstone Market. Take the big and little ones or just hang out among the books at the Cleveland Park Interim Library @ Van Ness. Try all the neighborhood restaurants.
Are your favorite sights/activities missing from this list? Please let us know in the comments.
And if you’re nostalgic, you can look at our original summer to-do list.