Most tourists in DC head to the National Mall and gather around all of the large national monuments. What the natives of the area know is that just a few miles down the road from the hustle and bustle of all of the activities is a small piece of history and a memorial often overlooked by anyone visiting (or living) in the area. Theodore Roosevelt Island was original purchased by the TR Memorial Association in 1931, however it was 35 years before the memorial was completed and the island dedicated in 1967.
With 88 acres the island is maintained by the National Park Service and is known for its wetlands, wildflowers and paths that run throughout the park. The various trails are well marked and it is an easy stroll of about 1.5 miles around the entire island. Yesterday while strolling the island we spotted a pair of hawks and one giagantic woodpecker (think Woodie) having a great feast at a fallen log. The islands history goes back to the American Indians who lived in the Potomac River region and was at one point owned by George Mason (1792) who gave it to his son. The Mason's built a summer home on the property but left the island in 1831 and the home eventually burned to the ground.
Today the island is a quiet refugee that does not allow cars or bicycles on its extensive paths. Even though the island is technically in DC you can only access it from Virginia. If you walk along the boardwalk through the wetlands you can get a nice view across the river of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In the center of the island is a 17 foot bronze statue and four large stone tablets featuring Roosevelt's more famous sayings. The plaza is currently undergoing rennovations scheduled to be completed this summer.
If you are looking for an adventure that gets you off the beaten path of the more famous Washington DC Memorials wander down the river and stop at Theodore Roosevelt Island. You can walk there from the Memorial Bridge, drive to it on the GW parkway or kayak to it on the Potomac River. It is a natural memorial to a President and outdoorsman who established many of the conservation efforts that created our National Park Service.
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