Drive up to Hillwood's gated estate in a dignified residential neighborhood on the edge of Rock Creek Park, and you will find an oasis in the city. Pieces from Hillwood's extensive collection of Russian imperial and French decorative arts often make it into the world's most well-known museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. But come here to see two, rare Faberge eggs, salvaged Russian liturgical artifacts, and valuable,gem broaches without the crowds in a Georgian revival mansion. That's what cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post intended when she bought the property in 1955. Pay special attention to the Pavilion, a lavender, velvet-walled room with a balcony where Post showed first-run movies to guests. Explore uncultivated areas of the estate during a quarter-mile nature walk, followed by a visit to Post's dacha, a Russian summer house replica housing special exhibitions. You can also borrow a blanket to spread out near a lily pad pond, sit with a book in Post's original patio furniture near a putting green, and unwind in the secluded French parterre garden. Flower fanatics shouldn't miss the five-climate greenhouse, which stores hundreds of orchid varieties. The walk to Hillwood from the nearest metro station, Van Ness, is about a mile with some uphill jaunts, but you'll pass stately landmarks like the Dutch Embassy and Howard University law school.
Nothing says summertime better than outdoor music. A secretive hideaway nestled in the woods and run by the National Parks Service, many seasonal shows are just $25 or free. Heck, get introduced to a new genre of music, as there are sometimes gospel, ska, neo-soul and blues nights. Rangers jokingly call reggae events “stroller nights” because of their family-friendliness. Occasionally, guests are allowed to bring in outside food and beverages for picnicking at several tables behind the venue, making for a camp-like setting. Arrive early: while headliners often play near a show's end, you could miss incredible local acts. And no matter where you sit in the 4,000-person space, you can hear and see the stage perfectly. The parking lot, which is shared with the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park, is tight during busy events. Metro busses S2 and S4 stop outside the entrance to the amphitheater at 16th Street and Colorado Avenue.
Channel your inner John Isner at this center, where the annual Citi Open is held. With 25 outdoor tennis courts (five of which are heated indoors for the winter), it's the perfect place for releasing pre- or post- business trip steam in a drop-in drilling session. At any given time – even in the dead of summer – see dedicated rec league players and visitors practicing their swings. Instructors are U.S. Professional Tennis Association or Professional Tennis Registry certified, so you'll receive extra helpful pointers in a private or group lesson if you choose. Because the parking lot is shared with the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park, driving is only easiest when there are no concerts going on. Otherwise, there is ample parking.
Listening to weekly carillon and peal bell recitals – the only place in North America where you can hear them – is a unique way to enjoy the Cathedral's welcoming ambience. Funeral and memorial services for nearly all of the 21 U.S. presidents, and many other heads of state, have been held here since 1893. Notice the Cathedral's international sentiment from surrounding embassies with dozens of country flags above the Gothic nave, where you can also catch weeknight choir rehearsals at 5:30. View an educational architectural exhibit about damage to the Cathedral's grand pinnacles during the 2011 earthquake, and see artifacts from the massive, 200-year effort to build the second-largest cathedral in America. But a visit to the Episcopal institution is only complete with an elevator ride to the observation tower for an unrivaled, 360-degree view of the District. As you pace the circular, bright white stone hallway, see the Washington Monument on the south side, Maryland's Sugarloaf Mountain on the north, and a grassy lawn below for people watching on the west.