Living La Vida Local in DC

Written by Blair Hurst – Program Advisor, Leadership + the American Presidency

It’s fun every once in a while to be a tourist and experience DC’s most noteworthy spectacles like the White House and Lincoln Memorial. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve taken a photo of myself “poking” the top of the Washington Monument. DC’s tourist attractions are some of the best in the country and even the world… But there’s more to DC than the sweltering 2:00 pm monument tours and overcrowded museums. DC is a foodie paradise, a music mecca, and a hotspot for underground attractions that stray from the mainstream. Here are some suggestions for taking the road less traveled in DC!

Where to Eat

Union Market: I’m seriously obsessed with this place! Union Market is a refurbished warehouse with dozens of food vendors ranging from authentic ramen to pizza to Cajun cuisine. 

District Donut is my absolute favorite vendor; with flavors like Orange Creamsicle, Crème Brulee, Key Lime Pie, and Fluffernutter, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your sweet tooth!

Where to Shop

Buffalo Exchange: Just a short walk from the McPherson Square metro stop, Buffalo Exchange offers an upscale thrift shopping experience that secondhand shoppers like myself LIVE for. If you’re about that eclectic style, this is the place for you! (Don’t forget your reusable tote bag).

Where to Caffeinate

Not a Chain: From one coffee fanatic to another: please, please…try something other than Starbucks. Try a small café or a quaint bakery. They’re all over the city!  It can be tempting to opt for a Starbucks when they’re on every street corner, but hear me out:  The best coffee will be in the hole-in-the-wall cafes that you might pass by without looking.

Some of my favorite caffination stations include Emissary Coffee and Kramerbooks and Afterwards Café; both located in DuPont Circle!

Where to Muse

Hirshhorn: This museum is not your typical Smithsonian experience. Never crowded, always quirky, and sometimes unexpected, this art museum houses a variety of contemporary art collections that won’t disappoint! 

I had free curry last time I visited this museum… it was part of the exhibit. Yes, really!

Where to Relax

Jazz in the Garden: If you’re into jazz or just want to relax and listen to some live music, head over to Jazz in the Garden at the National Sculpture Garden every Friday from 5:00 – 8:00 pm during the summer.  Be sure to bring a blanket for sitting and some snacks for sharing! This event is hands down my favorite summer activity!

Soak your feet in the water at Jazz in the Garden!

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