Whether you’re interning, taking summer classes, or are living in the city full time, everyone should know about the best spots in D.C. to exercise. While the comfort of Jacobs and Cassell is perfect for the winter, the summer is a great time to break a sweat outside and see the beauty of D.C. While summer can often be stressful and lonely, exercise can improve mental health. These spots are excellent for staying active, seeing the city and soaking up the summer sun.
The National Mall is one of D.C.’s most iconic places to visit. It’s perfect for snapping photos with family and, even better, doing all kinds of exercise. It’s easy to grow accustomed to our iconic surroundings. However, it is always great to reconnect with the District’s many famous buildings by simply visiting them and taking in all their beauty and significance as you run or bike past them.
“Running around the Lincoln Memorial is the best,” recent AU graduate Jessica Forrest said. Forrest encourages runners situated near AU to skip the Metro and run to the Mall. “It’s a nice run from American since it’s all downhill,” she said.
While the Mall is known as a runner’s haven, there are also soccer, softball, kickball, volleyball and flag football leagues available to both men and women looking to get good exercise, compete and meet new Washingtonians. In just the span of a few miles, the Capitol, Washington Monument, Library of Congress, and Supreme Court are situated and connected by a stretch of grass and trees.
Metro Stop: Take the Orange, Blue or Silver Line to Smithsonian Station
Nearby Attractions: Renwick Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum.
Rock Creek Park
Although we might not immediately associate the District with nature, Rock Creek Park proves that D.C. has breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you choose to hike, run or bike, Rock Creek Park is an excellent venue to escape the urban grind of the District. In addition to beautiful natural scenery, the park is a historic relic, containing Civil War era forts, cemeteries and fortifications to explore. In D.C.’s scorching summers, Rock Creek Park also provides natural shade so that you can exercise outside while staying protected from the heat.
Metro Stop: Friendship Heights, Fort Totten, Van Ness or Foggy Bottom depending on point of access.
If you are a walker or runner looking for a challenging workout, the National Zoo is a perfect fit. The Zoo’s hilly landscape covers 163 acres and can provide an intense workout in a unique setting. And, while you are getting in your workout, you can also appreciate the exotic animals and plant life around you.
One of the main features of the Zoo is, unlike many other zoos across the country, entry is free, making it a perfect location for those on a budget. Additionally, the zoo is one of only four in the country that is home to giant pandas. While the Zoo is free, food and drinks are pricey so it is best to bring a water bottle and plan on dining at one of the many restaurants in the area.
Metro Stop: Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams-Morgan (Red Line)
Nearby Attractions: National Cathedral, Adams-Morgan
If you’re looking to both burn serious calories and see the District from a new perspective, grab a kayak and set out onto the Potomac River. You can burn 300-400 calories by kayaking for only an hour, working out both your arms and core. The view of the District from the Potomac River in a kayak not only makes your workout fun, but it is also a great way to grow a deeper appreciation for the city.
Grab a Bike and Explore on Your Own
Biking is another inexpensive and healthy way for students to travel through D.C. and not miss a single site. Students don’t even need to splurge on a bike of their own. With over 4,000 bikes across the District and surrounding areas, students can use Capital Bikeshare to choose their own D.C. adventures while working up a sweat.
Whether exploring Georgetown or NoMa, biking to a Washington Nationals baseball game or finding hidden trails throughout the city, biking is an excellent way to see the city and stay fit.