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Wellness Weekend: Washington, DC

yoga on the white house lawnWashington, DC, a city renowned for its pork barrel spending, actually has lots of homegrown opportunities to be healthy and eat organically. Our proof? The Obamas, who never miss a workout, hosted yoga on the White House lawn at Easter (pictured). There’s a hard-core yoga studio for hot Vinyasa, a Lululemon in Logan Square and Georgetown, and, of course, everyone’s talking health care. Or how to get Michelle Obama’s arms. We recently sussed out five experiences that make for a capital Wellness Weekend. We didn’t visit the Smithsonian or the National Portrait Gallery, but we ran by the monuments (see our route below) and got the best massage of the year. Congress might not be in session this summer, but yoga class always is.

Runner DC
Thanks to this DC runner, who stopped for a cherry blossom photo opp

This 5-mile route comes from Iron Couple (and Arlington residents), Jessica Adelman and Doug Sackin. Enter the Mall wherever’s most convenient, and run west toward the Washington Monument. Hug the Tidal Basin shore as you pass the monument, enjoying the views of paddleboats in summer and cherry blossoms in spring. Come up Ohio Drive to the Lincoln Memorial where you can take the stairs 2×2. Take a few breaths at the top to admire the view, then run through the Vietnam Memorial and then east back to your starting point in the Mall. Click here for an overview of all the monuments you’ll see on this run.

The Jefferson Hotel is pricey and its spa petite (just two elegant rooms), but its lead massage therapist Francis “Bud” Earley is worth the splurge. As a bodyworker for 36-some years, he has more techniques—rolfing, therapeutic massage, chronic pain therapy, cranial-sacral—than most members of Congress have vacation days. Speaking of which, reserve early because the Senators snag all the bookings. For a custom massage that targets your specific knots, aliments, and minor injuries, book the 90-minute Jefferson Ultimate Bliss with Earley ($225). The name proves true. 1200 16th Street NW, 202-448-2300,

Alchimie Forever spa and showroom in Washington DC
Alchimie Forever gallery-style spa

The Alchimie Forever skin-care flagship is a boutique, an art gallery, and a chic one-treatment room spa that offers only complimentary facials—it’s yours with purchase of $150-worth of beauty products. (Book in advance.) The gift-with-purchase includes an hour with Master aesthetician Rosario Gonzalez, who targets your free-radical damage with the antioxidant-rich Alchimie Forever products. The Kantic Mask is made with blueberries and wild alpine pansies, and nod to the Swiss founders of Alchimie, who also have a spa in Geneva. 1010 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Georgetown, 202-530-3930,

DC is abuzz with hot Vinyasa classes, and Down Dog, a studio in Georgetown (with two other locations in Maryland and Virginia), is leading the way with its hermetically sealed windows (all the better to trap the heat and sunlight) and cranking humidifier (it’s a damp heat). Studio founder Patty Ivey and co-owner Terri Wood both studied with Baron Baptiste. His Power Vinyasa-style known for strength, sweat, and spirituality runs through the challenging, packed classes here ($18). Proof that Type-A yogis also thrive outside New York. Note: The online schedule fills up fast. 1046 Potomac Street NW, Georgetown, 202-965-9642,

Nora Restaurant Washington DC
Nora's, the country's first organic restaurant

Nora’s claim to fame is being not just DC’s first certified organic restaurant, but the country’s. Chef-founder Nora Pouillon, a quiet pioneer who’s credited with linking DC chefs with Potomic area organic farms and co-ops, opened in 1979; in ’99 went organic. As you’d expect, her menu features ethically raised lamb, chicken, and veal and in-season produce. There’s nothing crunchy about this elegant eatery, which has several dining rooms and a garden, a four-course tasting menu (there’s a vegetarian version for $61), and a wine list showcasing small producers. Expect to see Ed Norton, Al Gore, and other green-leaning Washingtonians over a power lunch of sustainable salmon. 2132 Florida Avenue N.W., 202-462-5143,

Need a place to crash? The Donavon House is part of the hip Thompson hotel group. Rooms are small, but have fab spiral showers, and there’s a small gym. Rates start around $145.

Photo credit: Yoga on the White House lawn, provided by Ava Taylor, Yama Talent