News & Politics

Sounds of Silence: The Quietest Places in Washington

We found some of the most peaceful spots in the area. Plus—a few spots to avoid.

Illustration by Tomi Um.

Want to escape the din of traffic, construction, and people? Decibel meter in hand, we went searching for solitude. Noise levels tend to vary—with a passing car or person—so we noted maximum readings. In decibels, a hushed library might measure 40, a chainsaw 120. For comparison, we’ve also included readings at a few not-so-tranquil spots.

Phillips Collection—53.5 decibels

Rothko Room

Freer Gallery of Art—56.1 decibels

Arts of the Islamic World galleries

Brookside Gardens—56.3 decibels

Azalea garden on a sunny Sunday

C&O Canal towpath—59 decibels

Near lockhouse 6, off busy Canal Road

National Gallery of Art—59.9 decibels

19th-century French galleries

Roosevelt Island—60.7 decibels

In front of Theodore Roosevelt statue

Reflecting Pool—64.4 decibels

On a bench along the water

Gravelly Point Park (Next to Reagan National Airport)

No plane overhead – 61.8 decibels

Plane coming in for landing – 94.8 decibels

Washington Capitals game—115 decibels

During “Unleash the Fury,” on October 18

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

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