Lafayette Square
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Lunch and Checkers in the Square
If you end your White House tour around lunchtime, head over to one of the many eateries on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 17th and 18th streets, and pick up lunch to go. At the cash register, ask for two extra paper bags. Then head back toward the White House and make your way to Lafayette Square to eat. Named after Pierre Lafayette, a designer of the city's layout, Lafayette Square is a pretty little park that is very popular with locals—who will be doing the same thing as you. It’s a wonderful oasis in the middle of the city, and a great spot for people watching. There are plenty of benches to sit on—in sunny spots or under the shade of the trees.If you're lucky enough to score a table, you get to play checkers. Sounds corny, but it’s fun. Take the two paper bags and fold and rip each one into 12 square pieces to fit the game board in front of you. Last time I went with a friend, we didn’t have a pen on us, so we just ripped off the corner on 12 of the pieces of paper and called them the red pieces. We couldn’t quite remember the game rules, so we had to quickly surf the Web for them. Next thing we knew, we were having a blast and almost missed getting back to the office on time!
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Scandal, Assassination, and Intrigue
Led by Ed Moser, a former presidential speechwriter and former "Tonight Show" writer, his Lafayette Square walking tour captures the misbehaviors, misfortunes, and misadventures of some of the most prominent figures in US history. Learn stories such as the femme fatale whose scandal caused an entire presidential cabinet to resign; who really saved the White House treasures when it was burned; the congressman war-hero who murdered his wife's lover and donated his shattered leg to science; the Truman assassination attempt; the near-fatal stabbing of Lincoln's Secretary of State; the fate of a U.S. Army officer traumatized by Lincoln's assassination; the southern spy credited with victory of the first major battle of the Civil War; and the suicide of the wife of an American author (and presidential descendant). Who could imagine that such tumultuous and sordid moments in DC history over the past 200 years happened yards across from the White House.
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