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Mary-Louise Parker’s guide to D.C.

As D.C. readies itself for an inauguration, the actress talks about the power of the FDR Memorial and shares her favorite spots in the city.
WEEDS (Season 4)
Actress Mary-Louise Parker has been visiting Washington, D.C., since childhood.Monty Brinton/©Showtime
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I’ve been going to Washington since I was a child, and all the memorials are imprinted on me with varying degrees of impact and sentiment.

But the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is the one I find most profoundly moving. I grew up as the daughter of a soldier, and this monument makes the most clearly articulated antiwar statement. There’s a very peaceful vibe, but it’s a kind of bittersweet tranquility.

I remember coming around the corner and seeing it for the first time. It just stopped me. The city is filled with majesty — there’s such a grand structure and scale — but the FDR Memorial isn’t about scale. It doesn’t compete with the surrounding grandeur. It’s its own world, and it’s more about how the images and text are used.

The design has a mazelike quality, but when you walk through, it also feels really open. It’s spiritual without being preachy or arch or even somber. It doesn’t smack me over the head. Instead, it just washes over me and makes me think.

I almost always visit the memorial when I’m in D.C., and I take friends. Recently I took my son there, a little mother-son trip. You know, it shouldn’t be as stirring as it is — it should feel like a bunch of statues. But instead, it fills me with such hope.

Parker’s D.C. Picks
I like the Politics and Prose Bookstore, because the people working there actually read books.
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW
202/ 364-1919

The rooftop of the Hay-Adams hotel has a beautiful view.
16th St. at H St.
800/424-5054 or 202/638-6600
doubles from $800

The Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown has a really nice Sunday brunch.
2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
800/332-3442 or 202/342-0444
doubles from $595

The Old Ebbitt Grill is half a block from the White House and across the street from the bank where my parents first met. They serve uncomplicated, good food. A lot of politicians go there, and it’s very bright and bustling.
675 15th St. NW
dinner for two $50