Northwest is the largest of Washington, D.C.’s quadrants and likewise contains the most tourist sights such as the National Zoo and the National Cathedral. Northwest is also the location of most of the neighborhoods covered in this guide from Judiciary Square to Georgetown to Dupont Circle.
Despite being the largest sector, Northwest is only lightly covered by the Metro system. The Blue, Orange, and Silver lines run through the southern area near the National Mall while the Yellow and Green lines brush along the eastern edge as it rambles through the Logan Circle and U Street neighborhoods. Much of the heavy Metro lifting in Northwest, however, is done by the Red line, which angles through the middle of the area. What that means is that large swaths of Northwest are not easily accessed by the Metro, so having a car will help greatly when visiting the following sights.
At 2401 Foxhall Rd NW is the beautiful Kreeger Museum, a former private home that sits on five acres of gardens punctuated by sculptures and surrounded by woods. The Kreeger museum focuses on 19th and 20th century art with works by Monet, Picasso, and Renoir. The museum is open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Tuesday through Thursday for tours only at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. Reservations are required for the Tuesday through Thursday tours and can be made at the museum's website. The Sculpture Garden is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Museum admission is $10 for adults, but the Sculpture Garden is free of charge.
Northwest on Massachusetts Ave from the Dupont Circle and Kalorama neighborhoods are two interesting stops: the Kahlil Gibron Memorial – At 3100 Massachusetts Ave – and the United States Naval Observatory at 3450. The Kahlil Gibron Memorial and surrounding garden are dedicated to the Lebanese-American poet. The bench and part likeness, part abstract sculpture are surrounded by flowers and a peaceful fountain. The U.S. Naval Observatory is on a large, circular complex and provides astronomical data and conducts research for both the U.S. government and the general public. The U.S. Naval Observatory was founded in 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, being evolved into the observatory in 1844. It originally was located in Foggy Bottom, but was moved to its current location – then a rural spot – in 1893.
The home of the Vice President of the United States is also on the Naval Observatory grounds, at Number One Observatory Circle. The house was built for the superintendent of the observatory, but was so nice that it was commandeered by the chief of naval operations and then the Vice President. Tours are available of the Observatory grounds, but are very limited – offered only on selected Monday evenings. Tours must be scheduled in advance and can be made around 90 days prior to your visit via the Observatory's website. Tours fill quickly and may be cancelled with little notice, so try to be flexible.
Moving further north is Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, located at 4155 Linnean Ave NW. The former home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, a businesswoman, diplomat, and art collector, the house contains a museum displaying thousands of objects collected by Ms. Post and is surrounded by a manicured formal garden. Self-guided tours are available Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm as are docent-led tours that begin at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. A donation of $18 for adults is suggested and, although it is not necessary, tickets can be purchased online on the museum's website.
Finally we come to one of the best parks in Washington: Rock Creek Park. A massive park stretching across a large section of Northwest D.C., Rock Creek Park contains a nature center, planetarium, and miles and miles of beautiful trails. The Nature Center is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Wednesday through Sunday. The Planetarium features ranger-led programs Wednesday at 4:00 pm (Young Planetarium), and Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm (Seasonal Night Sky) and 4:00 pm (Exploring the Universe). Both buildings are located at 5200 Glover Rd NW although the park itself spans several miles.