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Staycation: Meridian Hill Park

September 2, 2011

It’s still summer and barely September, but signs of fall and pleasant weather are sneaking into Washington. From a chill in the air early in the morning to lower humidity, it’s turning into my favorite time of year, the time when I want to spend as little time indoors as possible.

So it makes sense that for this week’s Washington, DC staycation adventure, I wanted to visit somewhere close enough to walk to and enjoy being outside while I was there. Enter: Meridian Hill Park.

There are a lot of wide open green spaces in DC (see: National Mall) but for a nearby escape a 15 minute walk from my house, Meridian Hill Park — known by many as Malcolm X Park — is a great pick. Big spans of grass, flowing fountains and a series of steps that take you up, up, up — from the upper Dupont area to Columbia Heights.

As you climb the stairs higher and higher, the view improves. From an overall view of the park…

to the Washington Monument, which can be seen from all over the city.

Cracks, flooding and all, it’s still a beautiful sight to see.

During the 80s, Meridian Hill Park was known as a seedy area with drug dealers hanging out after dark. Today, I probably wouldn’t visit at night but then again, I’m not sure I’d hang out at many city parks in the dark no matter what neighborhood they were in. During the day, though, it’s a relaxing place to picnic, read, study or sunbathe.

And you never know who you’ll (randomly) run into.

Joan of Arc? In a Washington, DC park? Why not?!

Fun fact from Wikipedia: It is the only equestrian statue of a woman in Washington, D.C. (and we have a lot of equestrian statues here)

Dante? Naturally!

Fun fact from Wikipedia: Italian poet and scholar Giovanni Pascoli believed that this was the best figure of Dante ever sculpted.

And, of course, our most revered U.S. president, James Buchanan, in full Grecian glory.

Fun facts from Wikipedia: He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century.

We like to make our buildings and sculptures look old in Washington but in fact, this memorial only dates from 1930.

On Sundays during the summer, a drum circle convenes at the park — as it has done for more than 40 years — to provide free entertainment to passers-by. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with your fellow Washingtonians.

So go ahead, explore your own backyard. You never know what hidden parks are just waiting to be discovered — sometimes you just need to veer off your everyday route.

Are you going out of town for Labor Day? Have special plans?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2011 8:00 am

    In all my years living in the DC area, I’ve never even heard of that park! You’re right about things being in your backyard and not knowing about them.

    Im going to Las Vegas this weekend!

    • September 2, 2011 11:51 am

      It’s between 15th and 16th Streets NW just above Florida Ave.

      Enjoy Vegas! 🙂

  2. Life's a Bowl permalink
    September 2, 2011 2:56 pm

    Wow, beautiful pictures- thanks for sharing! I’ve never heard of that park before… There are so many things I want to do in DC but I always say that I’ll do it another time, shameful! This weekend is gonna be busy getting ready for the first day of school aka my first day of teaching, gasp!

  3. September 5, 2011 2:01 pm

    Yea drum circle! 🙂

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