One of the greatest parts of going to school at American is its location. Washington D.C. is one of those smallish cities (as compared to NYC) that make living here feel easy and with tons of things to do in the nations capital I find that I’m never at a loss for out of town visitors! Since I started at American I’ve had friends drive in from Philadelphia and New York, fly in for a vacation from Chicago or spend the night during a long road trip down south. With all of my guests I find myself scrambling at the last minute to put together a to-do list, so in true type-A fashion, I’ve put together a “must see” list for DC, to use on that next batch of guests that come my way. Hopefully you’ll be able to use it too!
1. FREE Attractions: Oh yes, you heard me right, FREE! DC is the home of FREEdom and man does it deliver. From the amazing Smithsonian museums to the plethora of monuments there’s a weeks worth or things to do without spending a dime. A few of my favorites include-
The Museum of American History: I find this to be my favorite Smithsonian to bring guests to because there’s something for everyone. From Julia Child’s kitchen to an exhibit on American wars, everyone you know will have a great time. And did I mention they have Kermit AND Dorothy’s ruby slippers?
Roosevelt Island: Located in the middle of the Potomac, this memorial to our former president is a beautiful little oasis with walking trails all surrounding a memorial. Its a great place to walk around or even bring a picnic lunch.
Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage: Every day, 365 days of the year, the Kennedy Center has a free production at 6:00pm. Changing everyday, you’ll never know what you’ll find- sometimes dance, sometimes jazz- it provides a little something for everyone. While you’re there don’t miss the spectacular views from the Kennedy Center’s rooftop!
2. I’m Hungry!: DC has some amazing restaurants at all sorts of price tags. With cuisine from all of over the world, adventurous eaters can take advantage of DC’s multicultural nature. My top picks:
Ethiopian Food: DC has a HUGE Ethiopian population and at times it seems like there is an Ethiopian restaurant on every corner. Definitely take advantage of the unique family style food offerings and bring a group! Food is spicy and rich so come with a full belly.
Restaurant Nora: While its on the pricey side, this restaurant is one of my favorites in DC. Named the very first organic restaurant in the US, Nora provides fresh and homey cuisine. Take advantage of the prefix meals and wine/beer pairings.
Ray’s Hell Burger/Ben’s Chili Bowl: Two iconic DC (ok Ray’s is in Arlington…) spots provide delicious and totally bad for you food- but trust me its worth every calorie! Both are great places if you’re on a budget, with most menu items under $10. Be prepared to fight a crowd- both get VERY crowded but are worth the wait!
3. Lastly…Don’t Waste Your Time!: DC can be a tourist trap and there are definitely things that I kinda think are a total waste…here we go-
Georgetown Cupcakes- Oh man. You get a little TV show on TLC and all of a sudden its worth waiting an hour in line for your cupcakes. No way. They’re cupcakes people, that’s all. Chances of you getting on TV while getting said cupcake? Slim to none. I never can understand the line up the block at 9am on a Sunday morning. For the record, Cake does not equal breakfast.
The Spy Museum- Alright maybe if I was a 10 year old boy it would have been worth he $20+ price tag, but really…it wasn’t. If you’re into spies, go see the FBI exhibit at the American History Museum…or just watch yourself some Alias.
Finding the Darth Vader gargoyle on the National Cathedral- Now I’m not saying the Cathedral ain’t nice. Its nice. But if you go with the intention of finding the stupid Gargoyle of Darth Vader that some kid submitted as the epitome of evil, please for the love of God, don’t. I did this once, and will never, ever, ever, do it again. Don’t believe the guides that say, its so easy to find and see. It’s not. It’ll take you at least an hour and when you do find it, it’ll only be visable through the super zoom lens of your friends fancy shmancy camera. Look over there, to the right, I provided you with a photo, really its a better view than you’ll ever get. Seriously, I know you love Star Wars, but you have better things to do with your time.
And with that, I bid you adieu- May the Force be With You (just not on the National Cathedral…)