The Hunt: 6 Quiet Spots for a Reflective Moment
August 23, 2012
Global – Every week, The Purple Passport team goes out in search of a designated item in whatever city our team members happen to be in at that time. While we’re all for having a glamorous travel itinerary, today we are focusing more on the inner journey as we search for a zen moment in nature.
Photo Credit: Michael Bentley
The Skinny: Set in Northeast DC, the National Arboretum is one of my favorite places to go for a walk or just have some quiet time. With over 400 acres of gardens and lush greenery, there are dozens of walks to discover. When I’m in town and need a break from urban life, I like to head here for a recharging walk. My husband first introduced me to this urban oasis several years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Even for a loquacious person like myself, I more often than not find myself in a quiet state when at the Arboretum. It’s well worth visiting for a zen-like experience.
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden
Washington, DC; Adult Suggested Donation $15
The Skinny: Tucked into the rolling green hills and landscape of Northwest DC sits Hillwood Estate, once lived in by businesswoman, diplomat, philanthropist and collector Marjorie Merriweather Post. An eccentric mix of lush gardens, art collections from around the world all housed on her opulent estate. Although I find touring the grounds and her lavish mansion a good escape from the sounds of the city and modern-day-life, it’s the gardens behind the house that really inspire quiet, reflective moments. My favorite of her gardens is the Japanese-style garden, which includes waterfalls, a bridge, stepping stones and a perfect vantage point of the beautiful green landscape behind the house. If you get a chance to visit this hidden treasure in DC, I would definitely recommend it as a great place to explore on your own. It’s also a great place to visit with friends and family, since you have the option to picnic on the grounds behind the house. A little bit of a walk from Van Ness metro, I’ll note that on-site parking is included with your $15 suggested donation in the Visitor’s Center.
Photo Credit: indywriter
Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor, Maine
The Skinny: To be honest, it’s not hard to find some peace and quiet anywhere in the state of Maine, but one of our stand-out features is our views of the night sky. Without light pollution from the city, the stars and moon stand out brilliantly on a clear night. While you can simply step outside wherever you’re staying in Maine, the only way to really “be one” with the night sky is to camp. Acadia National park is one of the most beautiful places in Maine and with two primary camp sites (both a short walk to the ocean,) you’ll have to trouble finding a zen moment–just you, the sky, and the sea.
The Skinny: I grew up going to my grandparents’ cabin on the Russian River in Sonoma County (just north of San Francisco) every summer, and today it remains my ultimate place for a reflective retreat. The cabin sits on the banks of the picturesque river, which is surrounded by towering redwood trees and nourishes the area’s bountiful vineyards. The nearby town Healdsburg is at once quaint and worldly, with family-owned bookshops and foodie restaurants dotting the main square. There’s nothing better than gathering my thoughts as I watch the sun set over the river and then heading into town for a delicious meal.
– Rachel L.
The Desert Dunes
Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Skinny: The Empty Quarter, or the expansive desert on the Arabian Peninsula, lies about an hour and a half from my home in Abu Dhabi. Spanning Saudi Arabia, UAE (Abu Dhabi), Oman and Yemen, this is largest sand desert in the world and features plenty of open landscape and a seemingly endless supply of tall dunes, a perfect setting for a truly reflective moment. While it may impede a bit on the feeling of solitude, be sure not to venture out into this area without an experienced guide; at the very least you will be happy to have an extra car and tow rope if your car gets stuck in the sand!
Chuang Yen Monastery
Located about an hour and a half north of Manhattan, this Buddhist monastery is a beautiful escape for times when I need to reflect. Simply walking around the serene and sculpted yet wild grounds is enough to calm my racing mind. And if I’m feeling extra ambitious, meditation cushions in the gorgeous halls are readily available for public use. Apparently, the statue of Buddha in the Great Hall is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, too. Though I cannot confirm that “fact,” it certainly is an awe-inspiring sight.