Best secret garden
Mary Livingston Ripley Garden
Jefferson Street and Ninth Street Expressway
There’s no better place to marvel at the intricate architecture of plants than the Smithsonian’s Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. Just east of the Arts and Industries Building, genius gardeners have tamed some of the world’s strangest, showiest plants into an ever-changing masterpiece. Depending on what time of year you visit, you might see the dusty green leaves of the silver ponysfoot vine spilling over a brick wall and piling up on the pathway below. Or you might get a whiff of the giant Dutchman’s pipe, a stinky flower with the color, shape and smell of a baboon’s butt. If you can’t catch garden horticulturalist Janet Draper on one of her weekly public tours of the garden (2 p.m. Tuesdays, May through October), be sure to read the handwritten notes she places like Easter eggs beside her favorite plants. “Yowza! Seriously spiney,” a current one reads. Sadie Dingfelder

Best museum you’ve never heard of
Kreeger Museum
2401 Foxhall Road NW
Two miles away from the nearest Metro station, the Kreeger Museum offers art lovers the opportunity to quietly contemplate paintings without the distraction of the Mall’s clamoring crowds. The collection, which was recently reinstalled by National Gallery of Art curator Harry Cooper, runs toward colorful pieces by impressionist and modern masters including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. The gleaming white mansion formerly occupied by philanthropists Carmen and David Kreeger is a piece of art unto itself. Designed in 1963 by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Philip Johnson, this modern twist on a Mediterranean villa is one of D.C.’s most stunning examples of the international style he helped to invent. S.D.

Best place for a scenic run
Lake Artemesia Natural Area
Entrance and parking at Berwyn Road and 55th Avenue, Berwyn Heights, Md.
Tucked between the University of Maryland campus and a shopping center with a bustling liquor store and pupuseria is a little path into the woods that leads to Lake Artemesia, a beautiful man-made lake I like to call a hidden gem in Prince George’s County. I first got into running on this trail, which zigzags through what feels like a forest from a “Twilight” movie and under Metro train tracks before opening up at the 38-acre lake. The trail loops around the water and is studded with wooden gazebos, perfect for when you want to catch your breath and take in the scenery, snap a photo for Instagram or leave your mark and carve your name into the beams. An unexpected bonus: You’ll almost certainly have run-ins with deer, geese and beavers on the trail, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll set a new personal record when you head at full speed in the opposite direction. Zainab Mudallal

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