A November 1997 trip
to Washington, D.C. by Wasatch
Quote: Any guidebook gets you to the famous sights, but there are lesser-known gems of the capital city.
Forget the famous cherry blossoms. DC’s best flower displays are azaleas, especially Brighton Dam and McCrillis Gardens, both in Montgomery County, MD.
The best cherry-blossom view is from the restaurant on the top floor of the of the East Wing, NationalGallery of Art, where your table looks down on a garden of cherry trees from above the flowering canopy.
Bonsai Garden, the National Arboretum.The Observation Deck at the Old Post Office Building tops the Washington Monument’s views. It’s more centrally located, crowd free, and you don’t have to peer out little portholes.The Headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati, Anderson House, is one of DC’s great old city mansions where you can see a lock of George Washington’s hair and his false teeth.The Medical Museum, Walter Reed Army Hospital, has more gruesome displays than a Halloween haunted house, including a pickled leg with elephantiasis and the skin from the corpse of the Tattooed Man. Walter Reed is slated to close, so you might have to track down where the museum goes.
Washington has many statues, but the best is the tombstone by Daniel Chester French, who carved Lincoln invthe Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Grief in Rock Creek Cemetery.
Fall foliage along Rock Creek Parkway. Caution: you will get lost trying to drive this road, and never, never try it during rush hour.
Everybody goes to the Vietnam War Memorial, but only the wise visit at night.
The real FDR Memorial. America’s greatest president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, left instructions on how hewanted to be memorialized, should the nation deem it appropriate. He wanted a granite stone, exactly the size of the top of his desk, erected in the little park in front of the National Archives Building, at 9th and Pennsylvania Ave. It’s still there, hidden by the bushes.
The interior of the Old Executive Office Building, guided tours only. Dunbarton Oaks and gardens.
Restaurant | "Cafeteria, Hubert H Humphry Building"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 1, 2005
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
Washington, D.C., United States 20201
Restaurant | "The Rayburn Office Building Cafeteria."
Rayburn Cafe at Rayburn House Office Building
Southwest of the Capitol
Restaurant | "The Senate Dining Room"
Senate Bean Soup is the most famous–-make that the only famous dish on the menu–-and I find itrather tiresome, being basically navy beans cooked with overly salty ham.
Food quality is good cafeteria-style. Nothing brilliant, but nothing bad or that will offend. Forwhat you get, the price is more than right. It is a steal, which is what Congress had in mind allalong, Congress being the thief while you are the victim.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 1, 2005
Senate Dining Room
Washington, United States
Restaurant | "Phillips Flagship Restaurant"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 22, 2007
Phillips Flagship Restaurant
900 Water St. SW
Washington, D.C., United States 20024
The Smithsonian In One Day.We lived in Washington, D.C. for 25 years, and never managed to see all the Smithsonian, even though we spent more than 300 days there. It takes a week just to scratch the surface. Seeing the Smithsonian in one day is a joke, but if that’s all your schedule allows, here is how to see the high points in one day. This is a circle tour, so you can start anywhere on the route and go either direction. There is no chance of finishing the tour in one day if you wander around the museums until you stumble across the sights. You must either locate the route on the floor map when you enter, or ask a guard for directions.Starting at the Air and Space Museum, see the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo Space Capsule, and the Wright Brothers plane in the main hall. Then the space station and the diorama of a Moon walk, with a real spacesuit that walked on the Moon, complete with Moon dust on the knees. At the opposite end of the building is half the Enola Gay, the A-Bomb plane. On your way out the Mall exit, touch the Moon rock on display.Cross the Mall to the East Wing, National Gallery of Art. Go up the stairs and turn right, noting the Calder Mobile above. Go down the stairs and through the tunnel connecting the National Gallery buildings, then up by stairs or elevator to the main floor to the main Impressionist galleries. The National Gallery has so many Impressionist paintings that there are usually 2-3 shows on display. Ask staff how to find Renoir’s "Girl With a Watering Can" to get to the four rooms with the best Renoir, van Gogh, and Monet.Back to the Rotunda ("Winged Mercury" on the fountain is the best preserved ancient Greek work in the world) and out to the Mall. Turn right to the Natural History Museum to see Dinosaur Hall, the Hope Diamond, the Coral Reef, and the Blue Whale.
Back on the Mall, go right to the Museum of American History. Check when the Star Spangled Banner will be displayed. This is the real thing, that flew amid "bombs bursting in air" and after more than 200 years, it’s fragile and kept in the dark most of the time. Split up. Ladies go see the First Ladies Inaugural Gowns and the White House China. Men go see the Antique Cars and railroad engines. Set a time to rendezvous back at the entrance. Cross the Mall. If you have time, cut across to the Holocaust Museum. Otherwise, go to the Freer Gallery’s Peacock Room. Back on the Mall, go right to funny looking building (Arts & Industry) next to "The Castle" for a quick look at the 1876 Centennial Display. Back on the Mall, go right and walk through the outdoor sculpture garden in front of the Hirshhorn. Time left? Return to your favorite for more.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 8, 2007
900 Jefferson Dr
Washington, D.C., United States 20013
Attraction | "The Statue of ‘Grief’"
Rock Creek Cemetery
Rock Creek Rd.
Washington, D.C., United States 20011
Attraction | "Smithsonian Museums"
Attraction | "Museum of Natural History"
I found the Museum of Natural History to be the best of the Smithsonian Museums. Enter from the Mall into the Rotunda, where one of the largest known elephants is on display. The top sights include Dinosaur Hall; the Hope Diamond (the world’s largest diamond) and other spectacular jewels; the world’s first living coral reef in an aquarium, and, what with global warming killing all the coral in Nature, soon to be the only place to see a coral reef; and the Blue Whale (in the room behind the coral reef display), a life sized model of the largest animal ever. Dinosaur Hall has a monster Brontosaurus, but you will be amazed by the size of the Blue Whale in comparison.Arrive at the Hope Diamond by the Hall of Minerals, as interesting collection of minerals of the world, and leave by the other entrance to the room where the jewels are to see the world’s largest intact meteorite. The museum also has a number of dioramas depicting scenes of wildlife from around the world. These are pretty good. The collection of stuffed birds is a mind boggling display of the variety of nature– who knew there so many birds? The mounted display of Butterflies is remarkable, especially the ones with psychedelic wings. There are several galleries of native New World culture– dioramas, totem poles, Aztec calendars, Indian handicrafts, etc. Parents can dump, er, leave their kids at the insect petting zoo while they explore the museum, but the zoo is worth a quick look for everyone. Opposite the Rotunda entrance is a flight of stair and an escalator going down to the Constitution Ave. Entrance. At the bottom of the stairs is an impressive stuffed Tiger mounted in a leaping position. The lower level entrance lobby features rotating displays that are almost always of interest. The best display the Smithsonian ever had was a large room in the Natural History Museum called "Splendors of Nature". After decades on display, they replaced it, the biggest mistake the Federal government ever made. A small part of "Splendors of Nature" remains on display in this lobby.
The Smithsonian Members’ Dining Room is also on this floor. If you subscribe to the Smithsonian Magazine, you are a member. Bring your membership card(or the address label from a copy of The Smithsonian Magazine) for admission to the Member’s Dining room for lunch(from the Constitution Ave. entrance, bear right past the escalator to the Auditorium lobby, and right again the Dining Room). This is some of the best food available on the Mall, and the only buffet all-you-can-eat lunch. It is especially crowded on Sundays. It’s not immediately apparent, but there are two identical serving lines on the long counter, one starting at each end and meeting in the middle.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 11, 2007
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10th Street & Constitution Avenue NW
Attraction | "Army Medical Museum "
U.S Army Medical Museum
Walter Reed Army Hospital
Washington, D.C., United States
Attraction | "The Phillips Gallery"
We never fully appreciated the Phillip Gallery, a small art gallery lost in the shadow of the National Gallery of Art in its hometown until we moved to Utah. Eight years after leaving Washington, D.C., an exhibition of 50 paintings from the Phillips came to Phoenix. We went and were blown away by how good it was compared the art we had seen over the last eight years in Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City– The Philips is a superb art collection.Actually, we drove 820 miles to Phoenix to see only one of the 50 Phillips paintings on display, Renoir’s ‘The Luncheon of the Boating Party’, the world’s greatest painting. Renoir painted it in 1881. Duncan Phillips bought it in Paris in 1925 for $125,000 1925 dollars, which makes it, everything considered, the world’s most expensive work of art. Phillips took it home and hung it beside the fireplace. When he died, what was left of his considerable fortune endowed the Gallery, where the undisputed star is The Luncheon of the Boating Party.Regrettably, the Gallery eventually built an addition so they could display more of Philips’ collection, including a special room on the top floor designed specifically to display The Luncheon, and they removed it from the wall by the fireplace, but after you see it in its new home, return to the Musci Room at the between the bottom of the stairs and the entrance, face the fireplace, and imagine the paining hanging on the wall just to the left of the fireplace, partially hidden in the shadow of the stairs.
Now I’ll spell it out– the Phillips Gallery should be your first stop in visiting the many museums in Washington, D.C., even if you walk through the whole thing, it won’t take long, but your purpose in coming is to see the world’s greatest painting. Yes, we’ve seen The Night Watch, Leonardos, a couple Vermeers, rooms full of Peter Breugle, all 12 of Monet’s "Rouen Cathedral" series, and none hold a candle to The Luncheon of the Boating Party.The Phillips also includes works by El Greco, Degas, van Gogh, Cezanne, Klee, Mondrian, and a bunch of lesser Impressionists.The Phillip is fairly convenient to Metro. Outbound on the Red Line (traveling from Metro Center toward Bethesda & the National Zoo) exit at the Dupont Circle Station, which has the world’s third longest escalator (#1, a Metro station in Virginia, # 2, Moscow). When you get off an outbound train, go in the same direction the train is traveling to get to the closest exit. At the top of the escalator, bear left to Massachusetts Ave, and walk away from Dupont Circle to the Phillips, on the right side of Massachusetts Ave at the corner of 21st. St NW. The entrance is a few step to the right on 21st St. On the way back to Dupont Circle Metro, don’t miss Anderson House Museum.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 16, 2007
1600 21st Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Attraction | "The Washington National Cathedral"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 26, 2007
Washington National Cathedral
Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
Attraction | "Explorer’s Hall Museum"
National Geographic Society Museum
1145 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C., United States 20036
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 26, 2007
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 27, 2007
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 27, 2007
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2007
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 30, 2007
The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts occupies a majestic setting on the banks of the Potomac River between the infamous WaterGate Condo-Hotel and the original Watergate, a river dock at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. While the site presents a magnificent view when seen from the river, it also makes the Kennedy Center the most difficult of the world’s major performing arts venues to get to. You will suffer trying to go to the Kennedy Center, either for a visit, or even worse, to attend a concert. If you are driving yourself, you will fail to arrive on your first three attempts. Use them as learning experiences, and there is a good chance you will make it on try # 4.If you are going to try it, here’s how. From the north: drive down Rock Creek/Potomac Parkway past the Watergate condo complex, then take the first left. Turn right at the far end of the Kennedy Center, drive the length of the building in front, then take all possible right turns into the parking garage. Or, drive SW down New Hampshire Ave from Washington Circle (where New Hampshire and Pennsylvania Aves and six other streets intersect) to the end of New Hampshire across the street from the Kennedy Center. Proceed straight ahead, a slight angle to the left, drive the length of the building in front, then take all possible right turns into the parking garage. Good luck.From the south or east: Go west on Independence Ave. and bear right when it dead-ends at the Potomac River. Stay to the right and go under two overpasses, loop by the backside of the Lincoln Memorial taking the first right branch back down to the river bank. Go under the big expressway overpass, then take the first right into the parking garage. Do not try to read street names. Eventually you will come to signs along the road pointing the way to the Kennedy Center. Good luck.
By Metro. Forget it. The closest station is six long city blocks away. We used to take Metro to concerts replacing an hour at the gym with the walk for our daily exercise. If your legs are up to it, it’s the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, then south west on New Hampshire Ave. Notice as you leave the station, the George Washington University Medical Center at the corner of Washington Circle and New Hampshire Ave. This is where a team of Emergency Room doctors saved President Reagan’s life after he was shot by Hinckley near the Hilton Hotel. Ironically, the medical team that saved Reagan’s life was part of a program Reagan had just legislated out of existence a few weeks before the program saved his life. Had the doctors followed their President’s example, they would have let him die. Shut down inner city medical care. That’s how Reagan provided moral leadership for the nation.By bus on Virginia Ave. MetroBus provides the closest public transportation stop at the intersection with New Hampshire Ave., at the corner of the WaterGate complex. Best bet: taxi, but the way fares are structured, it is an expensive ride.Once you arrive for a visit, free tours are offered during the day, or you can wander around yourself. The tour has a sometime advantage of going into the concert halls if there are no rehearsals going on. On your own? Do this: nothing beats arriving at one of the two front doors on the side of the building facing the city, not the river. Passing into the Kennedy Center, you enter into either The Hall of States or the parallel Hall of Nations. Both halls are the length of football field or so, 4-5 stories high, with polished marble walls, and a red carpet underfoot. The sides of the Hall of Nations display flags of all the countries of the world. The Hall of States has the 50 state flags. This is a grand passage, and may justify the effort it takes to get here. At the far end of the Halls, the Grand Foyer runs the entire length of the building, facing the Potomac River. In the center of the Grand Foyer is the famous bust of Pres. Kennedy. Doors along the Grand Foyer open out on the River Terrace. Go out for a look at the River. Back inside, with your back to the river, go down the Grand Foyer to your right to furthest flag Hall. Head up that hall toward the front door to the elevators about half way down the Hall, and go up as high as you can. At both ends of the Hall up here are doors to the roof terraces, one overlooking the city, the other theriver. There are also two decent, reasonably priced restaurants on this floor, one a cafeteria, the other a more expensive dining. room.
There are two box offices, one in each of the flag halls, near the intersection with the Grand Foyer. When you leave by the front door, cross the street and walk down the sidewalk slanting across the yard to see the statue of Don Quixote.The Kennedy Center has six theaters, ranging in size from the 2,200 seat opera house and concert hall to the intimate Eisenhower Theater and the A.F.I. (American Film Institute) Theater that shows classic Hollywood films. And the large hall on the top floor can be divided into two smallish concert venues.If you drive yourself to an evening concert, be warned that there will be a huge traffic jam at the exit of the Kennedy Center Parking Garage afterwards. A better bet for evening parking is the less expensive parking garage under the apartment building at the corner of 23rd & G St. NW– walk two blocks down G St NW toward the WaterGate and just after crossing the bridge over the expressway, turn left on the sidewalk that runs across the Kennedy Center’s front yard, passing the cool statue of Don Quixote on the way. There is also a chance of finding free evening on street parking across 21st from this building. To up your chances, arrive early for dinner at one of the Kennedy Center restaurants. But if you want to arrive in style for a concert at the Kennedy Center, rent a limo and a tux.The Concert Hall, home of the National Symphony Orchestra, is a pleasant room of cream and red with striking chandeliers, a gift of Denmark. Originally, the Concert Hall’s acoustics were mediocre at best. The hall was recently reconstructed to try to improve them, but that was after we lived in DC. Reports from friends are that it helped, but this still is no Musikverein. We found the top balcony center was the best place to sit.The Opera House, whose extensive red decor, gives it the appearance of an 18th Century Denver bordello, has better acoustics. The single large chandelier was a gift from Austria. We like the box seats, but anywhere was good.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20566
heber ctity, Utah