The good and bad of living in a city that is a tourist destination is that all of your friends and relatives come to visit you (this is a pro, by the way). The con of having such frequent guests is that you are expected to tour them around the city and D.C. metro area each time. Constant visits to sites around D.C. tend to get repetitive. HOW many times can you see the Natural History Museum before they might as well hire you as a guide? The monuments are pretty constant in their appearance—the only changes are either the building of hideous scaffolding to make improvements (at a glacial pace) or orange tape to block off re-paving projects. Also, D.C. is small and getting from Point A to Point B usually requires that you pass several D.C. landmarks. Needless to say, they start to blend in to the landscape.
Writing this, I realized how unfortunate this is. Washington D.C. is a VERY cool city that is chock-full of buildings dedicated to history and extraordinary Americans. I live in the same city as the “Star Spangled Banner Flag,” a piece of Plymouth Rock, the red slippers from Wizard of Oz, and several dresses from America’s First Ladies. I mean, isn’t that pretty cool? To answer myself, yes, it is.
My brother and his girlfriend came into town last week. It was their first time in Washington, D.C. Honestly, in the beginning I wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of having to visit all the museums and monuments again.
But, I accepted my fate: I was going to have to revisit many of the museums that I had seen before. However, this time, I “rediscovered” one of the most popular tourist destinations in D.C. and even found a new one! Not too shabby for a girl who thought she’d “seen” all of D.C.
Break out the Hawaiian shirt and sunscreen! It’s time to go be a tourist!
Put on those Walking Shoes!
Yes, I’ve been to the National Museum of American History many, many times, but instead of getting mad at the fleet of baby strollers, or just shutting my mind off and breezing through, I actually took the time to read all the information on the exhibits that I had skipped over and/or written off as “boring” during my previous visits. My brother is very interested in politics and history and he ended up being MY tour guide in some of the museum exhibits. It was also really fun just to watch his sheer amazement at some of the museum’s artifacts. It was like watching a child on Christmas morning with all of the “oohs” and “ahhs.” It gave me a new appreciation for the museum — and taking D.C. “new-bees” to visit. Also, did I mention it’s free?
Who should go? Even if you think you’ve “seen it all,” you haven’t. Take some friends and re-visit the American history museum. They have rotating exhibits and you’re bound to discover something that you haven’t seen before.
Where is it? Smithsonian National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., 20001
For those who Love Ice Cream and the Waterfront
I think Old Town Alexandria, VA is a sleeper cell when it comes to tourist destinations. A lot of people know about Old Town, but they don’t necessarily consider it to be a place “to visit.” Old Town is the historical section of Alexandria and is completely adorable. It has quaint, colonial charm, funky stores, nice restaurants, and access to the water. What more could you want?
I took my guests to one of my favorite pizza places in the D.C. metro area, Red Rocks, which is located on Old-Town’s main drag; King Street. After devouring calzones and gourmet, flat-bread pizza, we walked towards the water in search of ice cream. Thankfully for us, they had frozen custard, ice cream, AND frozen yogurt along the way — there was something to fit everyone’s sweet-tooth. (Walk down to the 100 block of King Street, you will see Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and The Creamery. Yogiberry is on the 700 block.)
If you walk all the way down King Street, you will eventually end up in King Street Park. I recommend walking North on Strand Street (towards the Chart House restaurant). This will take you to the waterfront and boardwalk.
On the weekends in the summer, the boardwalk turns into something resembling a carnival. Magicians, face-painters, bands, and musicians set up along the water to entertain summer wanderers. It’s a great place to eat ice cream and walk around. You can charter a yacht, get a ticket on the Potomac River Boat, or wander through lush Founder’s Park. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is also there if you feel like dabbling in art and history.
We enjoyed a magic show as we finished our ice cream (and frozen custard) and listened to a harpist while we walked through Founder’s Park. We decided to head home after sunset, but I definitely recommend the bar scene to those who want to escape the D.C. clubs. Old Town is perfectly quaint and perfectly fun.
Who should go? Families, dogs, people who want to get out of the house and enjoy some laid back, family-friendly night life, and hosts who aren’t sure what to do with guests.
Where is it? King Street, Old Town, Alexandria