I encourage myself to leave the office for lunch, spending a whole day in a closed environment in the same chair is not ideal. I have found 3 fantastic green spots around the National Mall/Dept. of Edu./American Indian Museum/Air and Space area in the Botanic Garden. Shady benches, and wooden chair and table sets under umbrellas, lush green and birds; it's very refreshing to eat your lunch in that environment. So no matter if you're taking a lunch break from work, or eating lunch during your D.C. visit, you'll love these spots. Also, the Botanic Garden is something you should include in your itinerary since it's so close to all these D.C. tourist hot spots.
Not exactly a museum, but something you should check out when your at the National Mall. Next to Air and Space, and down the hill of Capitol Hill, the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory has a giant green house, some nice outdoor gardens, and a rose garden. A perfect place to spend some time outdoors and within the greens, and sometimes I like to take my lunch there.
United States Botanic Garden: http://www.usbg.gov/
The green house starts with a big central greenhouse with rainforest plants, this is your first stop and it is also the biggest area here. There is something like a second floor hallway you could walk around to experience the upper layer of the green house rainforest. It's pretty warm and humid inside, and little fountains trickles at the center of the greenhouse giving the area a constant water sound; very rain forest indeed.
|The big central green house, you start your journey here at the rain forest area.|
|Cocoa--The fruit that shall become chocolate|
Then the automatic doors lead you down around these green house walkways, each zone is different a climate or area. Some examples include the orchid area, where I learned that Taiwan produces the most orchids in the world, and the desert area with lots of prickly plants. There are also an outdoor area that is in the center of the green house ring with more exotic plants to observe and photograph.
|Here's an exotic plant, it made me think of spaghetti.|
Lunch in the Gardens
Lunch Spot 1: Dry Fountain Next to Rose GardenAlso check out the rose garden next to the giant green house, it's not very big, but its got a good variety of roses and the last week I visited there it smelled so nice. You see people sniffing the various roses trying to find which of these beauties is emitting this fragrance. Next to the rose garden is a dry water fountain with chairs, and tables under umbrellas where I often sit and have my lunch. It's always quiet here and I like to be surrounded by green after a day in the office. Listen and you will hear very rich bird songs, and forget about the hustle and bustle of the streets right outside.
|Roses in bloom|
|Lunching next to rose garden, in front of me a dry fountain.|
Lunch Spot 2: The Amphitheater
The second lunch spot is the amphitheater, located near a pool full of aquatic plants, it's a canvas covered semi-circle bench theater like space, with a set of chairs and tables where the "stage" would be. The view of the plants and pond is very nice, compared to the chairs next to the rose garden, the amphitheater offers a prettier view and more open view, it's just that there is only set of table and chairs while the rose garden dry fountain has four sets.
|Like a little theater.|
|Enjoy a open space view with water plants.|
Lunch Spot 3: Bartholdi ParkAnother lovely green space for lunching is the Bartholdi Park right across the Botanic Garden. This triangular park has a giant water fountain, and is full of benches under trees and tables and umbrellas. A bit more busy then the Botanic Garden and Rose Garden with the busy streets closing the small green space, but the water splashing sound of the fountain keeps it quite tranquil when you lunch.
Check out the map here of the National Botanic Gardens and identify the lunch spots I've talked about.
|Pasta in the park|