Unique, underappreciated locations pose as alternatives for prom pictures


Photos by Rachel Lee

Many locations feature privacy and smaller crowds while providing beautiful backgrounds for pictures

Rachel Lee, Staff Writer

Whether it’s saying yes to the dress, the heels or the jewelry, teens in a shopping frenzy dominate malls, signaling the arrival of prom season. But as many choose to go to the same spots for pictures, they find themselves impeded by traffic or fighting to claim a spot amongst the hundreds that gather. 

There are many locations–that are not Lincoln Memorial–offering privacy, peace and smaller crowds all while boasting picturesque nature, architecture and aesthetic backgrounds.

Sycamore House

Nestled in a tranquil community in Ashburn, this award-winning 12,000 square foot clubhouse is an elegant property, designed to be in-tune with the historical site on which it was built. The Sycamore House features white brick, large pane windows, metal roofing and large columns. A beautiful garden is also available during the warmer seasons with free public access, providing an affordable venue to document and celebrate the moment with friends and family. 

“My Loudoun County friends introduced me to this place and it really is beautiful, especially with the privacy it provides,” senior Elena Benson said. “The gardens are the perfect background, with the hues of the variety of vibrant flowers blending with the sky during sunset.”

The gardens are publicly accessible except when they are being used as private venues for social events and weddings, so calling beforehand is recommended. The site is relatively less crowded than others, creating the environment for the perfect shot. Parking is available on site.

The Wharf, DC

Located only 10 minutes away from the Lincoln Memorial, The Wharf is a mixed-use development and commercial strip on the glittering Potomac waterfront with river views and an active social scene. With natural scenery across the pier and a boardwalk facing high rise buildings, The Wharf features multiple backgrounds for photos.

“Not only are the waterfront views beautiful, but the pictures turn out really well too,” senior Saniyah Manaal said. “You’re still in D.C., but don’t have to experience the huge crowds and the need to scramble and rush because of the line.”

While The Wharf has three parking garages onsite, spots are limited and rates can amount to $60 depending on the time and day. Taking the Metro or riding their free Southwest Shuttle and parking at L’Enfant Plaza are more affordable options.  

Alexandria Old Town

A historic district on the Potomac waterfront and one of the region’s oldest neighborhoods, Old Town is distinguished by its cobblestone streets and Federal and Georgian architecture. Its rich collection of 18th-century townhouses and buildings invites comparison to an outdoor museum. Just minutes away from Washington D.C, Alexandria Old Town is comparably less congested and complicated even with its tighter streets, lined with indie boutiques for shopping and renowned spots to grab a bite.

“The historic scene makes this spot more unique because it’s not something you see on everyone else’s social media,” Benson said. “It’s not just a spot for pictures but really versatile; there’s always more you can do with your friends.”

There are various options for parking, including city-owned parking garages at Market Square and North Union Street for $2/hr and street parking available at meters up to two or three hours depending on the location. Parking rates at the Courthouse Square garage are reduced on weeknights after 5 PM and all day on weekends to $1/hour or a daily max of $5. On-site parking limits are strictly enforced so keeping track of time is recommended to avoid tickets for violation. 

Bon Air Park 

If you’re looking for floral backgrounds and lush greenery, Bon Air Park’s gardens in Arlington is another possible option for pictures. While their famed roses don’t reach peak bloom until late May, if you take a short walk down the path towards the playground and pass the Sunny Garden sign, there are other exotic flowers that bloom earlier, providing the perfect background for pictures. 

Parking is available on-site, the park is free to the public and there are no photo restrictions during the day or in the evening. The 24-acre park also includes playgrounds, picnic area and other amenities for visitors to enjoy. 

This prom season, avoid the traffic and congestion and venture to one of these locations to enjoy some privacy while celebrating the last of high school experiences and ringing in a new chapter.