Weekend review: DC bucket list

This past weekend, I put a big dent in my DC bucket list. Last we checked in, I had celebrated Oktoberfest in Reston with a few girl friends and this weekend, I visited the National Arboretum and picked fruit from a local orchard. I’ve even got the pictures to prove it!

First up, The National Arboretum. Located off New York Avenue, this little gem of plants and collections is probably unknown to most tourists and residents. I first learned about it from a friend who learned about it from her sister and while it’s free to visit, it is a bit out of the way. They certainly didn’t make this little retreat easily accessible for anyone without a car.

Of course, the arboretum is best during peak seasons for certain plants, but beggars can’t be choosers when you procrastinate and don’t think of things in advance, so I went ahead and made the trek to check it out. I can always visit again when certain parts of the park are in bloom. The most visited areas are the herb garden, the Bonsai Pavilions, and the Capitol Columns – which seem to be beautiful regardless of season.

I stopped off in the Bonsai Pavilion first, mainly because I love bonsais.

photo 1(1)

Without sounding completely nerdy, my mind is still blown by all the ways bonsais grow and how they can be molded. Here is a compilation of my favorites:

photo 4

Look at the one that’s practically a tiny forest! And right across from the Bonsai Pavilion is the herb garden with everything from peppers to clementines, to covered walkways that just beg you to sit down and relax.

photo(233)I was slightly tempted to pick a clementine, but I refrained and then listened to little kids debate whether or not they wanted to pick one of the crazy spicy peppers. (They decided not to, in case you were curious).

Just on the other side of the herb garden are the Capitol Columns and probably the most iconic spot in the arboretum.

photo 3(1)

It’s pretty much a photographer’s playground; there was even someone doing a modeling shoot at the top. After I saw these 3 main areas, I hopped back in my car to drive around the park. I could have walked, ran, or biked if I had known more but I didn’t have much time left in the day and wanted to see as much as possible. There are small parking areas at each collection which is very handy and keeps things orderly for visitors. I stopped into Fern Valley (slightly unimpressive), National Grove of State Trees, and finally the Asian Collections. There were more, but I decided not to stop in since I knew they wouldn’t be in bloom this time of year.

Maybe it’s my pending trip to Asia or maybe because I’m sure I was Asian in another lifetime, but this collection was my favorite. Filled with downward slopes and paths made from various materials, the Asian Collection looked out over the Anacostia (which if you pretend it’s not the Anacostia, it seems lovely). There’s also a nice little Pagoda you can explore:

photo(234)

In all, I spent an hour an a half exploring the arboretum and while I definitely didn’t see everything, I think I sufficiently crossed it off my list – at least until the peak seasons when everything will be in full bloom. It’s definitely a little getaway in a busy city that lets you explore and enjoy the great outdoors.

Next up, Butler’s Orchard; because knocking off one bucket list item this weekend just wasn’t enough. On Sunday, my friend Kasie and I headed up to Germantown, MD and while we had originally wanted to go apple picking, neither of our schedules allowed it. Instead, we went pumpkin picking and enjoyed the Fall Festival at the orchard.

Neither of us realized the festival was as large as it was, but we had so much fun! There was a corn maze:

photo 2

And a giant slide:

photo 1

And of course, a pumpkin patch where you could pick your favorite pumpkin!

photo 3

I ended up with a small baking pumpkin and an even tinier white pumpkin to paint (hopefully, I’ll have that to share later this week!), but we did love the imperfect pumpkins that had big wart-like spots and weren’t fully orange with green speckles. Kasie and I chalked it up to character!

After our hayride out to the pumpkin patch, we also petted some farm animals:

photo(235)

And took some fall cutout pics. We had to wait in lines with the kids, but it was totally worth it:

photo(1)

We ended the day with pumpkin rolls (they were out of the apple cider doughnuts) and a cup of warm apple cider. Honestly, I knew I’d have fun at the farm, but I didn’t think I’d have this much fun. If you’re in the DC area, get yourself to Butler’s Orchard before Halloween.

So that was my weekend, which leaves me with only 2 more items on my DC bucket list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • American History Museum
  • National Arboretum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard
  • Oktoberfest

I think I got this.

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