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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Exploring D.C. through running

Arts writer Caroline Rutten takes up running, discovers D.C.

One of my biggest accomplishments from my summer in Washington, D.C. was picking up running as a hobby. Not only did it fit into my zero-dollar budget for a gym membership (I blame my unpaid internship), but it was a way to become accustomed to my new stomping grounds. With 68 square miles to explore, each run became an opportunity to discover a new neighborhood while dripping in sweat. Below are a few areas of Washington, D.C. explored by quickly moving feet.

The National Mall

While this may be unoriginal, the expansiveness and historic significance of the monuments on the National Mall made it one of my first and favorite running spots. After all, it’s quintessential D.C.; it would be shameful to have left after a summer here without having explored it thoroughly. Starting at the Washington Monument, passing through the World War II Memorial Fountain and Reflecting Pool, you meet the rest of the tourists at the Lincoln Memorial. Due south, you hit the Martin Luther King Memorial and, my personal favorite, the FDR Memorial. This collection of statues and marble reminded me of the significance of the place where I was spending my summer — a concentration of power, historic happenings and transition. Running on the National Mall served as a weekly reality check.

Adams Morgan 

Located in the northwest region of the city, Adams Morgan is the multicultural nightlife and independent store hub of D.C. With colorful murals and local parks, each store and restaurant front owns a distinct personality — so much so that I found myself having to pause my Strava app on multiple occasions to window shop. Returning on multiple occasions, Madam’s Organ became one of my favorite live music destinations, Lost City Books’ two stories tempted me into many literary purchases and Roofer’s Union served me one too many beers. 

U Street Northwest

Located near Howard University, U Street Northwest was the African American cultural epicenter of the 1920s through the 1940s. Today, jazz still rules the area, among a plethora of theaters, restaurants and bars. The best biscuits are served at the Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, the best chili and fries are found at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl and the best speakeasy is behind the hidden door at a pizza parlor. 


Best known for its university and shopping strip, Georgetown had my favorite waterfront to run alongside. Right on the Potomac River, the waterfront beckons patrons to take a moment to look across the river at Arlington, Va. With children playing in the fountain, a musician with a tip jar and people dancing along, I couldn’t help but pause my run to observe each time. 

Rock Creek Park 

One step into this almost 2,000-acre city park transports you out of the metropolitan hub of Washington, D.C. into a quiet forest oasis. And while there is an excitement to running through city streets, the meditative qualities of running on a dirt path should not be underestimated. Especially to a California native, the lush green terrain of the east coast is unique — the ability to explore the natural landscape was just as special as discovering the city. 

Written By: Caroline Rutten — arts@theaggie.org


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