Travels Through Our Own Backyard

Whenever Jeff and I travel—whether it be a weekend trip to a nearby destination, a week-long vacation around the U.S. or abroad, or our upcoming RTW trip—we always devote some time to figuring out what it is we want to do at our destination. Skimming guidebooks and scanning websites, we make lists of attractions that interest us and take notes of restaurants others are raving about. Lord knows we don’t want to visit a place and miss the best spots.

Funny then, isn’t it, that you can live in a town for years and still never see some of it’s most worthwhile attractions.

Jeff and I live in one of the most touristed cities in America. (Trust me, having worked at the Smithsonian and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, I am well-versed on “tourist season” in D.C. I try to have patience. Really, I do. But for the love of Pete, could you please move to the right side of the escalator if you don’t plan to walk!)

We’ve been here for multiple years (4.5 years – Jeff; 3.5 years – Theresa), and there are still plenty of things we haven’t done. But I don’t think Jeff and I are alone in this. I’d wager that the majority of us rarely take the time to be tourists in our own backyards.

For Jeff and I, the start date of our RTW trip will be the end date of our life in D.C. We won’t be returning here. Where we’ll end up, we don’t know, except that it won’t be here. As we prepare to say hello to the world, we must say goodbye to the only place that we, as a married couple, have called home. To make the most of it, we’ve compiled a list of things to do before we go. In between trips to the REI, we’ll be squeezing in as much as we can.

  1. Ascend the Washington Monument. The first few years we lived in the area, security concerns closed the Washington Monument. Restoration work kept it closed even longer, but it has since re-opened, so it’s time for us to go check out the view.
  2. Make a few more trips to Eastern Market. I love markets of any sorts. You can be sure that I’ll be checking them out in cities around the world. Eastern Market is the best in D.C., and wandering the food, craft, and flea market booths is a great way to pass a weekend morning.
  3. Tour the Smithsonian museums that we have yet to visit. I’m ashamed to admit that even as an employee of this venerable institution, I have yet to make it to all the museums (African American Art, Postal Museum), and others I have just made rather cursory visits to (Freer & Sackler, Hirshhorn). I will correct this before we depart.
  4. See the Supreme Court in session. This is a bit hard for us to do, since it’s in session on weekdays, but I think we can manage to squeeze in one visit. If not, we should at least take a tour.
  5. Enjoy Kenilworth Gardens. These aquatic gardens have been on my list for a while but I haven’t yet made it there.
  6. Rent a pedal boat and paddle around the Tidal Basin when the cherry blossoms are in bloom for a prime view of the beauty.
  7. Attend a Nationals game at the new stadium. It’s set to open this season, and it will be one more stadium Jeff can cross off his list.
  8. Explore the National Archives and Library of Congress. I think Jeff and I have both been to these at one time or another but not recently. I think they’ve both been improved since we last set foot inside.
  9. Check out the National Building Museum. I’ve meant to do this forever but never have.
  10. Make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It’s the largest Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere, and is supposed to be quite visually stunning.
  11. Take part in a protest. How is it possible that we’ve lived in D.C. this many years and have yet to protest anything?

What have we missed? If there’s a D.C. spot that you think we might not have made it to but absolutely must, let us know. And what about you? What backyard spots have you yet to visit?