Explore the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington, D.C. See the old Capitol Columns and enjoy flowers and trees from all around the world.If you live in Washington, D.C., then you know things can get pretty hectic around here. Whether you live in an apartment building or a row house, it gets hard to get out and enjoy the real outdoors. Unless you have access to a car and are willing to spend a few hours in said car, it is almost impossible to find that here in the District. But there is one spot in the capital that can help you get back in touch with nature -- the National Arboretum. While there is no exclusive Metro stop for this destination, the closest stop would be the NoMa-Gallaudet stop. Take a Capital Bikeshare over to the area in about 15 minutes. They have recently installed a bikeshare right at the entrance for your convenience! Unlike national parks, this arboretum (found in Northeast D.C.) is serviced by the Department of Agriculture. You will immediately notice how quiet it is -- yes, you are hearing birds chirp; you may even hear up to 28 different species!
Take a stroll along the many trails in the park to see the various trees, plants, and wildlife. Most people come to the area to see the historic Capitol Columns. There are 22 sandstone columns that date back to 1828 that were brought to the grassy knoll known as the Ellipse Meadow in the 1980s. Standing in the center of the columns, you can see acres upon acres of grasslands or turn around and see the small reflecting pool that lies outside of the old grounds. Come for the pictures and stay for the history as you can still see some engraved names and quotes on the columns. [gallery size="large" ids="3687,3686,3688"] Once you’ve made your way through the columns, feel free to browse the special exhibits and displays. Currently, there is an Asian Collection with bonsai trees, sculptures, and small waterfalls that will give you peace and serenity from the moment you enter. There’s also a National Herb Garden that will be sure to inspire you with ideas on what to cook for your next meal. Stop by Fern Valley and see ferns that can grow as large as a child! There are endless amounts of wildlife and nature to explore across the 446 acres of open space. You’ve walked the 9.5 miles of the National Arboretum, and now you're obviously starving – so what do you do? Gain back those calories at the Arbor Café! There are light snacks, tea, water, and sodas to help quench your thirst. You can also check out the local gift shop that helps to conserve and maintain the grounds. Folks from all around the area come here to take prom pictures, engagement photos, and even professional photos for their businesses. But put the phone or camera down for a few moments and take in what a magical place this is. No where else in D.C. will you feel so calm and at peace. For more information on visiting the National Arboretum, visit their website.