WHAT IS IT? Fragrant grove of shady trees whose windy paths converge to an imposing red granite slab. The narrow Park is a living memorial to our 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
BEAUTY (3/10) Nothing says greatness like a fifteen-foot high block of red granite indiscriminately shaped like the state of Idaho. You don't agree? Neither do we. The whole memorial feels rather ridiculous, especially since most slab-viewing angles include the much taller Washington Monument in the background. LBJ is done no comparative justice in these overtly phallic commemorations.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (1/10) What does LBJ and the sixties have to do with granite and smelly trees? Uh, nothing. Maybe our minds are just too literal.
CROWDS (4/10) About a half-dozen business casual-dressed men wandering aimlessly looking like they wanted to talk. Kind of creepy.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (1/5) We were even more overjoyed to find the Pentagon-side LBJ Grove parking lot than we were finding the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot. But unlike our successful route to TR, there is no chance we can recount how we found our way to LBJ. Michael thinks that Gab somehow channeled the spirit of Magellan. Signs to the Pentagon or signs to the Columbia Island Marina might help.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (1/5) There is no bookstore and no Visitor Center. The Site is entirely outdoors.
COSTS (1/5) Entry into the Memorial Grove is free but be careful. If you park in the lot adjacent to the Pentagon don't take pictures until you have crossed the footbridge. Your shutterbug tendencies could cost you your camera.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (1/5) No Rangers, but the Grove's proximity to the Pentagon gave us the eerie feeling that we were being watched and that our conversation was being recorded.
TOURS/CLASSES (1/10) There are a few illegible LBJ quotes on the base of his memorial. We couldn't read them.
FUN (2/10) We made it from the TR Island lot to the LBJ Grove Pentagon lot in less than five minutes and were overjoyed. We had earnestly discussed walking the two-mile round trip distance. Everything after our miraculous navigation was a bit anti-climactic.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (2/10) Three attractions line the Virginia side of the Potomac River in the in the two-mile long stretch of the George Washington MEM PKWY between the Arlington Memorial Bridge and the Ronald Reagan International Airport: the LBJ MEM Grove, the Navy and Marine Memorial and Gravelly Point. The LBJ Grove is by far our least favorite of these attractions.
The Navy and Marine Memorial offers the best views of the city because, unlike the LBJ Grove, the vistas are not interrupted by screaming auto traffic. The Memorial's wave and gull design is also a lot cooler and dare we say, more interactive. Go and see what we mean.
Gravelly Point is the best of place of them all. Here you can picnic, relax or just sit and enjoy the day. Sounds boring? Well, Gravelly Point is located just yards from where the planes take off and land. Every minute or so jumbo jets will be less than one hundred feet above you! The sounds, the excitement, the fun are so much better than a red granite slab. Sorry Lyndon.
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