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30 Locations to Visit This Weekend: Take the D.C. Walking Tour

Author takes you through sites you might have overlooked

Barracks Row is a stop on Barbara Saffir's walking tour of D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Barracks Row is a stop on Barbara Saffir's walking tour of D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you can handle the D.C. summer heat, try walking the District to really see some of the nation’s capital that you might have been missing.

Barbara J. Saffir wrote “Walking Washington, D.C.” to feature 30 D.C. locations you might not have thought to visit. The 30 treks on the tour are accessible by public transportation and Saffir gives directions from spot to spot.

The book starts at Friendship Heights, rarely a tourist destination but home to disappearing history. “D.C.’s original boundary markers and a Civil War fort” are in Friendship Heights, Saffir wrote.

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Next is the Forest Hills campus of the Carnegie Institution for Science, where scientists are studying the stars, to Tenleytown. On the way, the tour passes the homes of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon B. Johnson when he was a senator.

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The third walk is from the National Zoo to the National Cathedral, then to Foxhall, past the diplomats’ homes. Saffir brings you from Georgetown — to see the “Exorcist” steps and the former home of President John F. Kennedy — to Embassy Row for a stop at the Russian Federation embassy.

Adams Morgan is the ninth stop, which Saffir says was the “hippest hangout” in the 1980s and is “still cool” now. After visiting trendy bars and restaurants, the tour goes to U Street for “music and mirth” and then to Howard University.

On 16th Street NW is the embassy of Australia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, which dates back to 1888, and the Congressional Club. Saffir then naturally guides her readers to Dupont Circle for both new style and traditions. Between embassies, the Brookings Institution and the Woman’s National Democratic Club, the tour brings readers to 13 Dupont locations.

The 13th trip is called the “Potomac River Panorama and Watergates.” Starting at the Thompson Boat Center, along the river trail, through the Georgetown Waterfront and up to the pedestrian bridge onto Theodore Roosevelt Island, this is the most outdoorsy part of the tour. Saffir also brings readers to the Watergate Steps, Kennedy Center and Key Bridge.

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The most classic tourist location, the National Mall, is next. From there, readers are brought to the White House and the hotels, offices and Renwick Gallery surrounding it.

Location 16 is for news junkies. It takes readers Downtown to offices of the New York Times, Washington Post and several others. Chinatown is the next stop and proves to be a good stop for a bite to eat from Spanish tapas, Mediterranean mezze and of course, Chinese food. The east side of downtown follow, including Ford’s Theater and the Newseum.

The Tidal Basin is next for some paddle boating, followed by Columbia Island, the manmade island off the Mount Vernon Trail that LBJ considered his hideaway. The 21st stop is where ongoing construction and views of the water meet at the Southwest Waterfront.

Take out a paddle boat on the tidal basin this weekend. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Take out a paddleboat on the Tidal Basin this weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Then “Museum Mania” takes over as readers are brought to the east side of the National Mall for stops at the Smithsonians. The one and only Capitol Hill is next, where readers can see both the Senate and House, Union Station and the Supreme Court. Not too far from there, NoMa and Union Market are where foodies go to explore the newly renovated neighborhood.

Tourists may be drawn to the streetcar on H Street NE, but the dozens of restaurants, bars and music venues attract locals. From there, Saffir takes you to Barracks Row and Eastern Market, originally built in 1873 and repaired after a 2007 fire. The nearby Marine Corps Barracks were founded in 1801.

Navy Yard, featuring the home of the Washington Nationals and “riverfront escapades” is the next stop, followed by Kenilworth, where you’ll find the giant pink lotuses. “This former commercial aquatic garden was acquired by the federal government in 1938,” Saffir writes.

The next-to-last stop is the National Arboretum, which draws half a million visitors annually and is studded with real columns from the Capitol.

The tour ends at Ward 5, where President Abraham Lincoln “sought solace,” Saffir writes, and Catholic University’s campus offers study areas for friars and politicians alike.

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