My 5: Cool Spots Around Washington DC.

Meridian Hill Park Malcolm X Park Washington DC

1. May 2007. Washington DC is a pleasingly green experience, with a bunch of beautiful parks and gardens scattered around town. Some say there are few cities in the US to rival DC on this front, thanks to stunning green spaces like Rock Green Park (featuring the civil war era Fort Stevens), The U.S. Arboretum, (boasting North America’s largest collection of Bonsais) and Constitution Gardens with its pool-framed views of The Washington Monument. My visits to America’s capital came years before I’d even thought of becoming a travel blogger, so you’ll have to make do with this solo shot of Meridian Hill Park, also known locally as Malcolm X Park. This sprawling 12-acre space is located just under three kilometers north of The White House and features cascading waterfalls and statues of Joan of Arc, Dante and James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States. I wish I could remember what it was that I’d found so damn funny.

The J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building Washington DC

2. May 2009. Washington DC is a city stuffed with incredible buildings, monuments and sculptures. Many of these can be enjoyed by taking the essential Monuments By Moonlight Trolley Tour, which leaves every evening from Union Station. Others you’ll no doubt simply stumble upon as you explore on foot, like I did with the fearsome looking J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. It was opened in September 1975 by President Gerald Ford and dedicated to former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The building still operates as the FBI’s headquarters but… amazingly… it can be toured as an attraction called The FBI Experience. The catch? You’ve got to be either a US citizen or a green card holder and applications must be made at least a month in advance through the office of your local representative. The tour was abandoned for almost a decade following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Madam's Organ Blues Bar Adams Morgan Washington DC

3. May 2009. For both of my visits to Washington DC I was lucky enough to stay with a friend in the trendy Adams Morgan neighbourhood. The area is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, pubs and nightclubs and my local watering hole was the excellent Madam’s Organ Blues Bar on 18th Street, N.W. This shabby-chic joint is famed nationwide for its live music, particularly blues and bluegrass, while it isn’t uncommon to see a famous face or two knocking around. Prime Ministers have dropped in for a drink, controversial US stand up comedian Bill Maher always stops by whenever he’s in town and Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were staunch regulars during the filming of The Wedding Crashers. Swing by if you’re in town and if there’s no famous folk about you’ll have to make do with great tunes, billiards and a FANTASTIC menu. I’d recommend Elliot’s Triple Threat, a $16 monstrosity of ribs, wings, cheese balls, fries and side salad.

The Spy Museum Washington DC

4. May 2009. If I were to ever go back to Washington DC I could probably spend a week focusing solely on the museums. After all, the city is home to The Smithsonian Institution Offices, the world’s largest museum and research complex. In DC alone there are 17 museums, galleries and a zoo on offer, including heavy-hitting sights such as The National Air & Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian and The National Postal Museum. If you’re looking for something a bit different, I’d recommend stopping by the quirky Spy Museum at 800 F Street, NW. Opened in the summer of 2002, this is a private, non-profit museum that channels everything to do with the murky world of espionage. Home to the world’s largest collection of authentic spy artifacts, everyone who enters gets a secret identity card and there’s even a live action role play adventure called ‘Operation Spy’, as well as the ‘Exquisitely Evil: James Bond Exhibition’ on the first floor. The museum is open daily from 10:00-18:00 and tickets are priced at $23. It’s a few dollars cheaper if you book online.

Ford's Theater Washington DC

5. May 2009. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of US history surely knows there was once a president called Lincoln and the poor old dude got shot while taking in a show. This is the spot where, on April the 14th 1865, Abe was murdered by 26-year-old actor, confederate sympathizer and white supremacist John Wilkes Booth. The museum is attached to the still-functioning theater and offers visitors a brilliantly presented and highly immersive experience as it takes you through the events of the night, covering the assassin’s motives and addressing all the conspiracy theories. There are also a bunch of historical items, including the very gun used in the murder, a Deringer .44 caliber-pistol. The museum is open daily with tickets priced at an incredibly reasonable $3. Audio guides are available for an extra $5 and tours are self-guided, allow for 30-45 minutes.

Like this? There are plenty more location-specific My 5s to read from around Washington DC.

Or maybe have a rummage through my pieces from all across The United States.

Leighton Literature travel reports short stories travel blogger

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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