Washington D.C. was the most active city I’ve ever been to … and I’ve been to at least three or four of them! They say New York is the city that never sleeps and that may be true, but Washington had more human beings bustling around than I’ve ever seen. Young people in suits and dresses filled every sidewalk in the city while tourists packed the walk ways around the national mall. Kristina and I saw a lot, experienced even more, and chose to write a quick guide that summarizes our experiences and tells future visitors what to see and do!
DO: See the monuments and memorials. This may seem obvious, but you can’t really appreciate the architecture and scope of these structures until you see it in person. Pictures do not do the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, or Capitol building justice. Plus, as taxpayers we fund their upkeep so its good to drop in and give them the old ‘regional-manager-coming-to-visit’ treatment.
DON’T: Try to see everything mentioned above in a single day. My wife and I ended up walking over eight miles for nearly 12 hours straight … this may seem like small potatoes to some of you people with “26.2” bumper stickers but to the rest of humanity, this is rough. Especially when you do it in sandals. Yes, we walked the city in sandals. By the end of the day, our legs were something less than rubber and the skin on our feet had melted off.
DO: Visit the United States Holocaust Museum. It hits you hard and reminds you to put the problems of your life in perspective. You have to buy a ticket to get in (it’s only a buck) but the museum still gets pretty crowded. Take your time but expect to be in a packed exhibit.
DON’T: Visit the McDonald’s on E street off of 5th Street. At the tail end of my wife and I’s final trek back to the hotel, we were thirsty and wanted to grab some water. We found this McDonald’s and had the pleasure of meeting a flamboyant and highly agitated young Latino man working the counter. He was very short, physically and emotionally, slammed our water bottles on the counter without saying a word, and had the customer courtesy of a rabid raccoon.
DO: Check out the multiple pools/fountains that the city offers for you to dip your disgusting feet in (weather permitting). I kind of thought it was awkward to just sit on the edge of these pools and get my tootsies wet but after I did it once, I was stopping at every spot where water had gathered in an attempt to shove my red, calloused toes in some cold H2O. The two best spots were the World War II Memorial and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.
DON’T: Dip your feet in the reflection pool. For starters, you’re not Forrest Gump and secondly, it isn’t chemically cleansed so the whole thing is filled with algae and other various forms of slime. Also, watch out for the geese poop that litters the area surrounding Constitution Gardens. Seriously. The ducks in the reflection pool at least keep things tidy. The geese just dump on everything.
DO: Take note of the fact that every person in this city walks around with headphones on and their faces buried in a screen. This is common among most young people, nationwide, but I’ve never seen it on this scale in my life. The crosswalks are filled with these social zombies, ignoring everything from taxi horns to other human beings walking in their path.
DON’T: Get in the way of the bicyclists. There might be just as many people riding their bikes and jogging as there are people staring at their phones … and these cycle-junkies are zooming around the city like maniacs. As of this blog’s writing, two Washington cyclists have been killed in the last two weeks and I’m not surprised. The traffic activity and mass of people scurrying around on foot is reminiscent of something you’d see in India with traffic lights at times being nothing more than suggestions.
DO: Swing by the White House, especially while Donald Trump is president. In this case, you’re almost guaranteed to see a random protest taking place. When we went, there was some sort of rally that didn’t seem to have a true purpose other than hating Trump. Some signs called him a Russian puppet. Some called him a traitor. One lady wrote a novel on hot pink poster board talking about everything from FBI spying to diabetes. Sadly, we missed out on hearing Alyssa Milano speak the night before … not so ‘charmed’ after all.
DON’T: Buy overpriced ice-cream from the first ice-cream truck you find. Sure, the Batman head I bought tasted Cherry-licious and took me back to being a kid, but it had nothing on the FREE ice cream that the USDA and International Dairy Farmers Association (IDFA) doled out for everyone. Plus, it was a great chance to see Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky. Color me starstruck!
DO: Plan ahead and make your way into the city at a good time of day. We hit the ‘beltway’ after 4 o’clock and didn’t encounter too much resistance but the highways were beginning to grow congested. Also, the streets that lead you downtown are extremely narrow and nerve-wracking. Thanks for nothing, pre-automobile-era city planners!
DON’T: Misjudge distances on a map and assume that your hotel is nearby all the sight-seeing spots. Our hotel looked to be a mere ten blocks from the Washington monument but ended up being some distance that rivaled Marco Polo’s voyage to the Orient. We refused to rent a cab, ride a subway, or rent a Segway because we didn’t want to lose all of our money, catch a disease, or wear a mandatory helmet.
DO: Check out Ford’s Theater. It’s a little eerie seeing where President Lincoln got shot in the head but worth checking out. The place has a small museum followed by an oral run-down of the assassination as told by a National Parks ranger in the actual theater. Don’t expect to see blood splatter or anything wildly ridiculous like that – the theater is still used to this day.
DON’T: Assume that the thing you just saw out of the corner of your eye was one of the many pigeons or squirrels roaming about. We saw a giant rat run across the front steps of one of the embassies. They lurk in the shadows and pounce on trash in broad daylight!
Speaking of embassies, if you want to see some there is an entire row of embassies on Massachusetts avenue. Here I am, incorrectly believing that I have tread on Chilean earth!
Finally, we ate at some random places so we can’t really make any suggestions there … except for District Taco. District Taco was pretty good. Go there!
All-in-all it was a great trip and we will be back (we didn’t even get around to the Smithsonian museums). See you then!