There were times when I visited places in the DC area and I literally had to pinch myself. Is this really part of the DMV? So, for the next few weeks, in addition to my regular posts, I'll be posting a few of my favorite places to go on a date, in no particular order. Some are in the city and others require a short drive to MD or VA. Take a break from email, twitter, facebook, and everything else. Make a little time to check them out. You can thank me later. :)
The National Arboretum
I was born in DC. My mom practically raised us in the museums. But a visit to the National Arboretum made me feel like I was 1,000 miles from DC. I just kept thinking, “How could I have never been here before?”
The National Arboretum is on the way to BWI airport. Just beyond the horns, fast food restaurants, and red lights of New York Avenue, 423 acres of pure beauty exists. There are thousands of plants, flowers, and trees, from azalea bushes to magnolia blossoms, to three hundred year-old bonsai trees.
After you head to the visitor's center for a map and a list of current exhibits, one of the first stops you should make is to the pond filled with living art. Orange, black, gold, yellow, and white colors infuse the water as huge koi splash around and fight for food from the coin operated machines. I could stand there forever and watch all of the different colors collide or the faces of children and adults who stand there wide-eyed and amazed. (Bring your quarters - Feed the fish beginning in May.)
The bonsai and penjing exhibit is also fantastic. They are miniature landscapes that are breathtakingly life-like. You’ll find trees that have been “in training” since as early as 1625. Some trees resemble mini forests and mountain ranges, others look like shrunken pines and maples. A few almost invite you to curl up beside them with a good book or resemble the mountainside that you saw on your last vacation. All of them are regal examples of artistic talent, patience, and tradition.