The Smithsonian National Zoological Park (or the National Zoo, as most people know it) is one of the most popular destinations in Washington, DC. Surrounded by the neighborhoods of Woodley Park and Cleveland Park, the National Zoo spans 163 acres and is home to some 2,000 animals representing close to 400 species. The attraction and nearby area offers up dozens of sites that can double as Woodley Park event venues; these range from the Amazonia Science Gallery for small groups to the outdoor Great Cats Exhibit (featuring three interactive alcoves that can be used as buffet stations), as well as a number of restaurants and hotels – all of which with convenient access to public transportation.
Given National Zoo is situated in northwest Washington, DC, travelers are not too far from Ronald Reagan National Airport (7.82 miles), Washington Dulles International Airport (27.46 miles) and Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (37.48 miles). Visitors arriving to Union Station via Amtrak can take the Red line to the Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan stop or the Cleveland Park stop (which is actually closer to the zoo entrance). Taxis are readily available around the clock and provide another option for getting around.
Many of the major meetings and events take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center located closer downtown near the neighborhoods of Shaw and Mount Vernon Square, but hotel venues in Woodley Park and nearby also have meeting facilities. Located in Rock Creek Park, the Omni Shoreham Hotel has welcomed presidents and everyday people since it opened back in 1930. On property, planners will find 836 guest rooms, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, 24 meeting rooms including the Regency Ballroom, which accommodates the largest events within its 15,718 square feet. Over at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, there are 1,152 guestrooms including 104 VIP suites and 195,000 square feet of event space and 95,000 square feet of exhibit space.
When it comes to off-site venues in Woodley Park, there are several near the National Zoo and its neighborhoods. Groups can party like cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post at her former home, the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. The Georgian-style mansion boasts five event spaces for small group gatherings; its decor, featuring and the decor including an impressive collection of Russian imperial art and 18th-century French decorative arts, will certainly spark cocktail conversation. A more casual place for a get-together is the Cleveland Park Bar & Grill, a sports bistro with a rooftop deck.
Washington, DC is an international city, so visitors should expect the cuisine to be the same. In Woodley Park, Lebanese Taverna has all your Middle Eastern specialties from mezze to mains, such as schwarma, which up to 60 guests can enjoy in the Cedar Room. In Cleveland Park, Ardeo is a modern American bistro serving pizza, pastas and other savory dishes like Scallop schnitzel and steak and eggs in the private dining room and adjoining rooftop terrace, ideal for parties of up to 70 guests.
While the National Zoo is the main attraction for travelers staying in Woodley Park or Cleveland Park, the National Mall, Georgetown, Arlington Cemetery and other museums and monuments are easy to get to and should be included on the list of places to explore in Washington, DC.