I'm going on a bike ride
March 18, 2010 12:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm bringing my bike (and a budget) to DC this weekend. Where should I go/what should I do? Looking for cool outdoor spaces...

I've been to DC before and I've seen some the monuments, been to Ben's Chili Bowl and a couple museums here and there. I've been a bit stressed lately and so I wanted to venture out into DC for a day trip or two. Given the wonderful weather lately, I'd like to spend most of it outdoors. Also, I'll be going by myself.

I read most of the old DC questions and I'm planning to definitely hit up Dumbarton Oaks, Five Guys, Politics and Prose, the Eastern Market, and possibly the National Building Museum.

But where else should I go? Oh, and I'm a landscape architecture major so stuff like community gardens, parks, and just really cool and awesomely designed outdoor spaces appeal to me. Also, suggestions of fairly cheap and yummy places to eat? Feel free to suggest indoor stuff too--even if I don't go this time I'll file it away for another day.

Also, any recommendations on a nice bike shop? Plus, I think I'm going to bike from my house to Dumbarton Oaks on Saturday morning. For the first few miles it's all paved trail and then I spend a long time on Rhode Island Ave NE. Is it pretty okay to bike on in terms of safety/cars (as compared to Route 1)?
posted by bluelight to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Be aware there's a marathon going on Saturday, some routes may be blocked to traffic.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:03 PM on March 18, 2010

How about the Frederick-Law-Olmsted-designed National Zoo? Also, the National Arboretum is lovely this time of year, and a fantastic bike ride, with rolling hills and impressive vistas.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I lived in the area, one of my favorite outdoor spots in the DC area was Gravelly Point, next to National Airport, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. It's a great spot to lay on the grass and watch airplanes land and take off, almost frighteningly close above your head! Paths run pretty extensively along the Virginia side, but the most popular part of the (bike and foot) path runs from the point by the airport, to about 2.5 miles down to Theodore Roosevelt Island (which is also nice to explore, but I don't remember it being too bike friendly). The whole path runs along the river, with some great views of DC from the Virginia side. You can begin your ride at other points, but do stop for a while and watch the planes.
posted by raztaj at 1:41 PM on March 18, 2010

Dunno how good it is, but there's a bike shop near Eastern Market.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2010

If you are coming in that way, you may want to swing through the National Arboretum. It will be nicer in a month, though, as it is still a little early in the season for most things to be in bloom.
posted by procrastination at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2010

If you'll be over by the zoo, you might check out the National Cathedral. It's uphill from the zoo (or, start at the Cathedral, and you can coast downhill!), but it's beautiful, and it has a nice (but small) garden / gazebo / walkway ("The Bishop's Garden") on the south side of the Cathedral (here, just across that small road).
posted by Alt F4 at 2:02 PM on March 18, 2010

Take a ride around the tidal basin, and check out the FDR momunemnt. It's my favorite one in the city, splayed out over a large outdoor space.
posted by DrDreidel at 2:44 PM on March 18, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt island is great, but bikes aren't allowed. You can bike to the island and park it to take a walk around.

Seconding the tidal basin. Not the best time of year (come back in a month for the cherry blossoms!), but still enjoyable. The FDR monument is also my favorite in the city - much more interactive and interesting than the others.

Cheap eats - you have to go to Five Guys. I know you mentioned it in your original post, but this is just a strong encouragement to do it. I live in outside DC now, but every time I go back I make a point to visit.
posted by CharlieSue at 3:33 PM on March 18, 2010

Brookside Gardens in Wheaton has some interesting landscaping, I think. And I strongly second the National Arboretum.
posted by drlith at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2010

I think the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is tailor-made for what you want to do.
posted by megatherium at 4:00 PM on March 18, 2010

I'm fond of Meridian Hill Park, also called Malcolm X Park, between W and Euclid / 15th and 16th Streets NW. It's a fascinating space divided into upper and lower terraces, each with its own character and function. I've always felt it was like a park designed by giants. The upper level has a long field lined with trees and benches; during the warm months, people sometimes play soccer here, and there's a Sunday afternoon drum circle that's apparently been gathering here for decades. The lower level has a multi-tier Italian Renaissance style fountain running down the middle (not sure if it's running now), with more sheltered little nooks and spaces around a central pool. Scattered about are statues to Dante, President James Buchanan, Serenity, and Joan of Arc.
posted by itstheclamsname at 5:55 AM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

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