We just returned from a visit to DC and Virginia, catching up with old friends and showing the kids our old neighborhoods. It was a great trip – but the triple-digit temperatures kept our level of activity to a minimum. By the end of the trip we were all itching to stretch our legs. Luckily, the weather cooperated and a nice cold front came in just in time for our last free day, bringing the temperature down to a very civilized 80-something degrees.
We planned to visit the monuments on the National Mall and maybe hit a Smithsonian museum or two. Since it was our last day, time was of the essence, so we decided to rent bikes and cruise from monument to memorial to museum. We hopped off the Metro at Federal Triangle, just a block and a half from the Mall and walked up to Bike and Roll, literally steps away from the Metro station. So convenient! They hooked us up with Trek comfort hybrids, perfect for our outing, plus helmets, tubes, pumps, and locks. They also rent performance hybrids, cruisers, road bikes, tandems, trail-a-bikes, and trailers – really, something for everyone! Bike and Roll offers tours, too, or you can join a free Ranger-led bike tour that starts at the Jefferson Memorial.
Believe it or not, even though we grew up in the DC ‘burbs, we’d never ridden on the Mall. It turned out to be a perfect way to see the sights! It’s flat, with nice wide walkways to make dodging pedestrians easy even for the kids. Cycling on the street was easy too – I think that DC drivers must be used to tourists on two wheels taking over the city in the summer. We easily saw all of our “must-sees” in just a couple of hours, leaving plenty of time for a leisurely lunch and a visit to the National Museum of American History.
Another option is the Capital Bikeshare, which allows you to rent a bike with just a swipe of your credit card from one of 165 stations around the city and return it at any other station. The problem is that they don’t provide helmets or kid-size bikes, and the pricing can make it more affordable to just rent a bike for the day, depending on how you plan to use the bike.
Cruising from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial along the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial (with stops at the MLK Jr. and FDR memorials along the way) couldn’t have been better. All in all our day on bikes was a great way to end our vacation – and a good reminder that sometimes the best way to see a city is by bike!