According to this morning’s Washington Post, 875,000 Washingtonians plan to leave town this weekend, which is bad news for traffic but great news for those of us staying home. No need to hide in your air-conditioned apartment: We’ve rounded up our favorite things to do, see, and eat right here on Memorial Day weekend.
• Escape the Mall crowds by heading to the National Arboretum instead, where Chinese dogwoods, Southern magnolias, lilies, herbaceous peonies, and old garden roses are currently in full bloom.
• Head to a perch on an I-66 overpass and watch Rolling Thunder go by.
• Enjoy a cookout in Rock Creek Park.
• Take a picnic to Gravelly Point and watch the planes fly overhead.
• Catch the end of the roses in the United States Botanic Garden and see the recently restored Bartholdi Fountain in all its glory.
• Grab a Kingston sandwich—a baguette with jerk chicken, slaw, and pineapple salsa—at Sundevich and pretend you’re somewhere tropical.
• Take a mini road trip to find great barbecue at either Blues BBQ Truck in Frederick or the BBQ Joint in Easton.
• Get a crowd-free preview of the National Symphony Orchestra’s concert on the Capitol’s West Lawn the night before (Saturday), when they rehearse the entire show outdoors.
• Also in Annapolis, go for crabs at Cantler’s.
• Take a guided Gargoyle Tour at the National Cathedral (Sunday at 2 PM), and try to spot the Darth Vader grotesque. Ruminate and relax in the Bishop’s Garden and the rest of the cathedral’s grounds.
• Take a bike ride to Mount Vernon.
• Swim laps, picnic, or play putt-putt at East Potomac Park.
• Rent a kayak at Jack’s Boathouse, and try to spot Air Force One overhead while you paddle down the Potomac.
• Take advantage of the (slightly) shorter lines at Georgetown Cupcake.
• Head to Great Falls Park and hike one of the trails by the water, or take a picnic.
• If it’s intolerably hot outside, take shelter by the indoor fountain in the National Gallery’s air-conditioned West Building, and enjoy the newly revamped French Galleries. You can head via the underpass to the East Building to see the blockbuster Miró exhibit next door, and pick up gelato in the cafeteria on the way.
What are your favorite things to do in Washington on Memorial Day weekend? Let us know in the comments.