I follow a former professor of mine who posts pictures and videos from her hikes, providing a “soothe” to those who weren’t able to get out into nature like she was. The videos are often of flowing streams or leaves blowing in the wind. The pictures are usually of mountain tops and tree-lined paths. And with everything happening in the world, sometimes the soothe is just what is needed.
This weekend, while visiting my parents, my mom and I took a walk at Huntley Meadows. Despite being relatively close to Route One, once you’re in the woods, the sounds and smells disappear for a while. It was a sunny weekend day, so it was relatively busy, but never got overly crowded. It is kind of nice to wander past older folks going for a walk and young families exploring the boardwalk and birders with cameras the size of a small child. (Everyone wore a mask.)
Huntley Meadows is home to many a bug, a bird, and creature. Our walk was spent with our noses turned down searching amongst the marshlands for a frog or a turtle, before quickly looking up to try and spot an egret or an osprey.
The weather has gotten a little chilly around here, so an afternoon spent searching for sunshine and friendly little creatures was a much needed soothe.
It came to my attention that a friend who shall remain unnamed has lived in the DC area for a few years and never ventured down to my favorite place in the metro area: Old Town Alexandria. I was personally offended. I think Old Town is one of the coolest part of the DC area. And if you love history, hate crowds, and always want to be surprised, Old Town is the place for you.
Getting There: The excuse I was given was that Old Town was too tough to get to. Which is bull. When Metro hasn’t shut down all of the Virginia stops, you can get to Old Town easy peasy on the Yellow or Blue line and hop off at the King’s Street stop. The walk from the metro isn’t horrible and is a straight line down King Street to get to the water front, or you can hop on the free Trolley that’ll take you all the way down King. Parking isn’t ideal, but if you’re keen on a day’s adventure, there’s bike paths that lead straight there from all directions. You can also hop a riverboat from Georgetown and National Harbor.
What to Do: Old Town is filled with history: go on a ghost tour of town, visit Gatsby’s Tavern, wander the cemetaries. It’s also a quintessential walkable area. You can wander down the history cobblestone roads and see historical buildings with just a touch of cute. If you’re on the hunt for that perfect birthday gift or that not-too-touristy present to bring back home, there’s plenty of boutiques and cute shops all up and down King’s Street that are fun to just pop in and out of. Make a stop in the Torpedo Factory to peek at some local artists’ workspaces. If you’re there in the summertime, the boardwalk is filled with performers and opportunities for people watching. Plus there’s that relaxing sound of the water that just can’t be replicated by an iPhone.
What to Eat: Old Town is constantly updating their food options, with shops coming and going. I’ve got a few favorites that are consistent: for “Chicago” style pizza, go to Bugsy’s. Looking for a Marg and a couple tacos, Los Cuates is a good bet. On the hunt for a classy meal, the Chart House has good food and great views. And to round it all off, there’s nothing better than a scoop (or two) of ice cream for your wander onto the boardwalk: there’s a Ben and Jerry’s, but my personal favorite is the Cookie Dough at The Creamery – just keep an eye out for the bear in the window.
Basically, there’s so much to do in Old Town and it’s just so close to DC that you have no excuse.