facade

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The Mount Vernon Trail is one of the best places to go for those who enjoy being active outdoors but doesn’t want to deal with the crowds in Washington DC. The 17 miles trail spans from Rosslyn, VA to President George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon but along the way provides some of the best views of the nation’s capital and then some. The trail itself is protected by the National Park Service and can be accessed year-round from 6 am- 10 pm.

Here’s a great map of the trail.

For a majority of the time, the trail is sandwiched between the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway.  This makes it really easy to hop on and off the trail at any given point. But it also provides some very beautiful waterfront views.  In other words, you don’t have to walk the entire 17 miles in order to see the best of the best, here are some personal favorite points of interests and places where you can hop on and off the trail:

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The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Arlington Memorial Bridge are seen from the Mount Vernon Trail in the middle of autumn.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

(L) the footbridge leading to Theodore Roosevelt Island (R) Theodore Roosevelt statue

Let’s start with one of my favorite places along the Mount Vernon Trail, Theodore Roosevelt Island. A great place to begin your outdoor adventure. I love it because it’s not like any other place along the trail. Park your car in the parking lot and cross the footbridge. You’ll be greeted by Theodore Roosevelt himself. Walk within the island for a bit more solitude than you would get along the Mount Vernon Trail. No bikes are allowed on the island but there’s a bike rack by the bridge so you can leave your bike and walk 🙂

Once you are back on the Mount Vernon Trail, you will see beautiful willow trees, and about half a mile away from Roosevelt island, you’ll start seeing some of the best views of the Washington DC Memorials. Its one of the only places where you can actually see the top 3 landmarks (Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the US Capitol) all lined up in a row. There is not one spot, in particular, you should go to see them. The more you walk, the more the perspectives will change and the view from across the Potomac River is like no other. If you walk a little further, you’ll start seeing the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as well. Enjoy these views or the memorials anywhere from Roosevelt Island to the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial.

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July 4th firework celebration

If you can, my favorite time to go here is on July 4th for the firework show. You basically get front row seats all along this part of the trail so you don’t really have to go early to claim your spot. If you do decide to go, then driving/parking may be a hassle. The best way to do it is to take the metro and get on and off at the Rosslyn stop. It’s a little more than half a mile walk but you’ll be saving so much more time by using the public transportation route. I have been on the George Washington Parkway when there are fireworks and cars will literally stop in the middle of the road to watch it. At that point, traffic gets super backed up!

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The first morning we were in Oranjestad, my friend Sue and I walked around the city. It was so cute and every turn had something new and unexpected. I loved all the colorful buildings and homes and this house was no different. It was the pink flowers that originally drew me in but then it was all the cracks and tears all along the facade that really made me want to photograph the house. I just loved all the details and really wished that I was able to walk onto the porch but there was a gate blocking us from doing that.

So I captured this image with my 16-35mm wide angle lens. As we were walking around more I felt like I wanted to capture more detailed shots of the house. I opened up my backpack, trying to dig out the 70-200mm when I noticed a cat was sitting on the porch! I had no idea it was there when I first took the picture so I tried to remain calm and quickly put my 16-35mm wide angle back on the camera before I went any further. I’m not sure what happened but the cat quickly got up and ran away 🙁 I was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to capture the cat like I wanted to but went back to review my images and I’m so glad I was able to capture this. It’s so funny because I didn’t even know he was there in the first place. He was a tiny little guy so I wouldn’t be surprised if you missed him the first time you looked at this image too. LOL.

My camera settings for the image is F8 at 1/800th of a second at ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.