As a neurotic individual, urban biking (who am I kidding, any kind of biking) is a bit nerve wracking for me. In the last week, thanks to my patient husband, I've gotten on a bike more times than I have in the last decade, and I'm beginning to like it. But while there may be some urban bike trips in my future, in my heart I'm a walker. Without a car, or a bike, my legs have been my main mode of transportation since moving to DC six years ago. Sure, there is public transportation here, and its good, and I use it. But often the fastest or most efficient route to work has been by foot, not bus or subway, and walking costs nothing. It's also much cheaper than joining a gym, and it connects you to your environment and neighborhood in a way that getting into a metal pod and going from point A to point B cannot.
Beyond the utility walk, there is also the urban hike. By this I mean, the long urban walks that are for pleasure. They might be within a city, and you might not see a waterfall or wild animal, but you can still explore and cover a good distance. A few good ones:
The Classic: From NW (or wherever) head towards the monuments. You can head to the Jefferson, or Lincoln, or if you are ambitious, walk around both. If you are walking from the Northwestern quadrant of the city, you can breeze past the White House on your way down, or stop at the Corcoran (now free of charge) and call it a day. If you are out any weekend that is not in the dead of winter, you'll be surrounded by tourists, and its admittedly a pain to push through them. But it's good to see the city through the enthusiastic eyes of tourists, and honestly, the view from the Lincoln down the Mall, and those words, fourscore and seven years ago, never really get old.
The Chinatown Loop: This one is mostly about the food and the movies, but depending on where you are coming from, can take you down the stately Pennsylvania Ave (if you are walking from the Hill) or past the White House and downtown. Head to E and 11th Street (E Street Cinema to catch an early afternoon movie). Best if its really hot out so you can escape into the dark theater. By the time it's done, you should be pretty hungry, so head up to Chinatown Express on 6 and H for the dumplings and delicious green sauce. Waddle home. If you live in NW and are feeling really ambitious, you can stop over at the National Geographic Museum on your way home.
Embassy Row: This one holds a special spot in my heart because its the route my now husband and I walked countless times when we were just beginning to court each other and looking for an excuse to sneak out of the office and talk during the dog days of summer. We walked west from Dupont Circle because we figured we wouldn't be spotted by our coworkers. Sometimes we would stay south, crossing the P or Q Street bridges, walking past Stachowski's and maybe grabbing a water at the 7-Eleven oddly situated on 26 and P, like some kind of low-brow suburban oasis in the midst of blue blood Georgetown. When we wanted more time, we'd head north, up Massachusetts, toward Embassy Row. Sometimes we'd just make it to the Mosque on Mass Ave right before Rock Creek. But if we had time, if our bosses were out of the office and we could get away with a long lunch, we'd steal up past the bridge, all the way up toward the Naval Observatory and the Finnish Embassy. I still love looking at the embassies here, each one an embodiment of its nation, architecture reflecting what it is, what it hopes to be, or both. And once, we even saw a deer up there, just like a real hike.
What is your favorite urban hike?