Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Where to Find Peace in the District

There's so much I love about this season -- hot apple cider, cozy sweaters, and the changing of the leaves -- and even though I've been looking forward to the temperature drop for months, a big part of me dreads what's coming next.

You see, once fall arrives, the rest of the year flies by at warp speed. The next three months will be the craziest at work, preparing for and traveling to family holidays stresses everyone out, and cold and flu season is knocking at our door. What a joy!

So we all better take Red, White, & Bourbon's suggestions and enjoy the best that autumn has to offer before the seasonal stress and anxiety sets in and the urge to hibernate is too strong to ignore.

Really, I'm talking to myself here. In fact, in the last several days, I've developed a plan to both be better at stress management and enjoy the great outdoors now that I won't melt.

How will I do this? By visiting some of my most peaceful spots in the city and taking time to breathe.

Everyone needs a go-to place to reflect, recharge, and relax -- a place that allows you to escape the stresses and noise of everyday struggles -- a place that you enter frenzied and disoriented and leave centered and soothed.

Where is yours?

Don't have one yet? Then borrow one of my favorite spots!

The Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral

I took this photo. Yes, really!

My sister-in-law is a horticulturist/landscape architect, and my father is an Episcopal priest -- so let's just say that I'm pretty familiar with these grounds. The Bishop's Garden was designed by Olmsted, the "father" of landscape architecture, and is tucked away on the south side of the Cathedral. Most visitors miss it entirely!

Take some time to wander along the slate path and smell the roses, literally. Aside from the occasional tolling of the bells, this is a refreshingly quiet hideaway -- perfect for escaping noisy roommates and shaking off the stresses of the workweek. The lawn just beyond the rose garden is a great spot for a picnic too!

The Labyrinth at the Georgetown Waterfront


While you're in the 'hood, take a stroll down Wisconsin Ave. all the way to the Potomac River. Pick up some coffee along the way and then park yourself on the steps leading down to the water. This is one of my favorite spots to sit and read or doodle in my journal. If people-watching is more your thing, then just turn around !

When you're ready, mosey on down to the Labyrinth. It's far enough from the crowded fountain area that you won't hear any tourist noise or feel "on display," so wind your way through the maze at your own pace, meditate if you wish, and breathe. When it gets too cold, you can find an indoor labyrinth at the Cathedral as well.

My brother and I, restoring our sanity.

Remember the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear? Surprisingly, I found myself there with my brother and his wife, who took the train down from New England and talked me into braving The Mall with them. I, in turn, talked them into bailing early in favor of the more serene USBG. We were less than 100 yards away from the chaos of the event but found ourselves instantly at peace.

The rainforest, complete with a waterfall, is one of my favorite spots. Plus, there's some good oxygen to be found here!

There's something about the FDR Memorial's big stone walls mixed with the rushing water that is incredibly comforting to me. Now that the tourists aren't overwhelming the space, taking a zillion photos of the Breadline, I plan on spending more time here finding my zen.

I'll put my phone on silent, take a deep breath, and enjoy the sound of the falls until the sun sets. Then I'll walk over to P.O.V. to meet my Gamma Girls for a cocktail. Perfect recipe for a relaxing evening!

So here is my wish for all of us this fall: I hope that we can all take the time to unplug and unwind -- to leave the stress at the desk and find our peace in this beautiful city of ours!

Peace be with you!


  1. THIS IS GREAT! I can't wait to go be alone at all of these places!

    1. So glad you liked it! Let us know which is most peaceful for you...

  2. I love the Botanical Gardens, we always go at Christmas to see the trains and then walk over to the Capital to see the tree.

    1. Sounds like a great outing! I love D.C. during the holidays.

  3. The Arboretum. It's like being far away from the city, but it's in the middle of the city.