Sunny and 60 in DC: Best outdoor activities for an unseasonably warm day
How to make the most of a warm day in the district as spring arrives
As spring approaches and the days get gradually warmer, it's time to start returning to outdoor activities. Luckily in a city like D.C., there are countless activities to keep you occupied on a warm day when it’s 60 degrees out.
According to the National Park Service, this small island nestled in the center of the Potomac River was originally abandoned farmland, but repurposed in the 1930s into a memorial for Theodore Roosevelt. Today, miles of walking trails span the island, with multiple scenic viewpoints through woody forest areas to swampy marshes. These trails are perfect for those seeking a light outdoor walk rather than a major hike. The island is easily accessible by the pedestrian walkway on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which is located in between the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the Lincoln Memorial.
For those who don’t mind a lengthy Metro ride, Alexandria is the perfect excursion for a sunny spring day. The neighborhood is lined with shops, restaurants, art galleries and houses with charming colonial architecture. Those looking for a cool tasty treat can stop by The Creamery or Ben & Jerry’s and enjoy their dessert at the Old Town Alexandria Waterfront Park, which boasts sweeping views of the Potomac River.
A northwest D.C. landmark, chances are students have visited this iconic cathedral before or at least seen it protruding through the skyline. On a sunny day, the hilly lawn in front of the cathedral is the perfect place for a picnic with friends or a relaxing study date. The massive gothic-styled building also makes the perfect backdrop for Instagram pictures. Afterward, visitors can stroll through the winding Bishop’s Gardens adjacent to the cathedral and watch the flowers begin to bloom. The cathedral is about a 25-minute walk from AU, but it is also easily accessible by bus from Tenleytown.
Operated by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is completely free to enter. Between its operating hours of 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., visitors can see lions, elephants, tigers, zebras and the zoo’s famous giant panda exhibit featuring Xiao Qi Ji, a male cub born in August 2020. The zoo is also blocks away from the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan metro station, which is only three stops away from Tenleytown on the red line.
This 446-acre collection of plants and trees, complete with walking trails and numerous exhibits, makes for a perfect sunny day destination. Within the grounds, visitors can stop by the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, which houses a collection of miniature Chinese and Japanese trees, and the “social media worthy” National Capitol Columns. These columns, 22 in total, were originally built to support the U.S. Capitol dome in 1828 but were moved to the arboretum in the 1980s. Today, the columns stand alone in the middle of a meadow, overlooking a reflecting pool. The arboretum, located in northeast D.C., is open every day of the year except Christmas from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is completely free to enter.
Although this winter has seemingly drudged on forever, spring is finally making its way to D.C. Before you know it, trees will fully blossom and daily highs will consistently reach 70 degrees. Until then, it’s best to make the most of the unseasonably warm winter days by enjoying some time outside in the district.