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The Great Outdoors

When the concrete of the city becomes too much, Washingtonians and visitors recharge with any of these types of activities.

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2,000 acres of parkland make up Rock Creek Park, home to the National Zoo, a planetarium, outdoor concert venue and numerous trails.

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One of the first ever federal parks, Rock Creek is chock full of activities like tours, hikes and horseback riding.

A popular gathering place for families, friends and dog owners, Rock Creek Park also runs its famed Horse Center, which conducts trail rides, lessons and tours. There are even pony rides for the little ones. The 1,700-acre park also has tennis courts, a golf course, playgrounds, planetarium and hiking trails, too. 

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A favorite for outdoors people, Thompson has a slew of kayaks, canoes and even small sailboats that customers can take out on the Potomac River.

Wade along the shores of Georgetown while getting in your exercise at Thompson Boat Center. Spy sights like the Watergate Hotel and the Kennedy Center, an architectural marvel. Venture as far as the Jefferson Memorial or Georgetown Reservoir. Rental prices start at only $14 per hour.  

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Kick back and ride the waves without lifting a paddle on a cruise operated by the Potomac Riverboat Company.

Take a narrated sightseeing cruise with spectacular views of the Kennedy Center, Watergate, the Washington Monument, Capitol and Jefferson Memorial. Or, travel by water taxi to Old Town Alexandria and stroll along King Street.

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Located at the summit of Georgetown, this estate features a most spectacular garden along with a world-class museum.

The historic estate is revered for formal, terraced gardens, meadows and its soothing stream. The former tenants of the mansion and property, Robert and Mildred Bliss, donated the estate to the current proprietor, Harvard University, in 1940.

Tudor Place

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Tour this neoclassical gem on five beautifully landscaped acres.

Originally owned by Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Tudor Place showcases horticultural mastery and a mansion brimming with antiques. Meander past the Tennis Lawn, which is where President Grover Cleveland used to watch matches, and stop in the Japanese Tea House, lined with white lilacs, coral honeysuckle and yellow rose.

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Don't let the name fool you, this green park is soft and grassy, and it provides incredible views of airplanes bound for or departing from Reagan National Airport.

Head to Gravelly Point, a park off the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Mt. Vernon biking/hiking trail and watch the planes roar in and out of Reagan National Airport.

The original Capitol Columns were moved to the National Arboretum because they couldn't support the weight of the Capitol dome. The Corinthian columns now have a home in the gardens of the Arboretum and make a perfect place for a picnic.

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An arboreal journey awaits here, but you'll also find the National Herb Garden and relics from the original U.S. Capitol Building.

Let DC’s greenest space surprise you with a visit to the National Arboretum. While you’re there, take in the pillars from the original U.S. Capitol that were burned during the War of 1812.

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The 17-plus-mile Mount Vernon Trail offers wonderful views of the scenic Potomac River.

True to its name, you can take this park from Rosslyn, Virginia all the way out to George Washington's digs at Mount Vernon. Don your sneakers for a walk or run; otherwise, rent a bicycle from Bike and Roll in Old Town Alexandria and plan a few stops along the trail such as the Dyke Marsh, the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial and Gravelly Point.

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Georgetown is the gateway for this biker-beloved trail that stretches all the way to Silver Spring, MD.

Seven miles of the 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail is paved, making it a favorite not only for bikers, but also rollerbladers. Civil War buffs would be pleased to know this trail goes past Fort Sumner.