Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cities and My Very Own D.C. Travel Guide

Because I just returned from a weekend in New York City, whose land mass could probably fit 50 D.C.s, I am feeling like an inferior city-dweller. As another friend and fellow D.C. resident told me, D.C. always seems a bit of a disappointment after a weekend in New York. The truth is, the two cities cannot be compared: they are just different in their economic and therefore general composition. D.C. is furthermore just a unique city because of its preponderance of government jobs and jobs that revolve around government jobs. This of course shapes the city's character to a great degree: where an NYC or Chicago has many longstanding cultural outposts (think jazz clubs and intimate music venues), D.C. has only a few. This is because the D.C. metropolitan area has for a longtime been more a bedroom community, populated by government employees and their family. That it now vies to be a "cool" city is a newer development.

Furthermore, as a result of it having a job market centered around careers that promise greater stability than most--law, government, consulting, D.C. is a little more conservative than somewhere like NYC. That is, people in D.C. are more risk-averse (not to say NYC doesn't have this--it does, but it also is home to people with very "risky" professions such as artists). Politically, of course, D.C. is actually more liberal (or at least more Democratic-leaning) in the District and its surroundings, but culturally it's not. I had no idea that people wear leggings with flannel shirts and flats until I saw it, many times, in NYC. The celebrity sitings are cooler in NYC too. For instance, the first celebrity I saw in D.C. was Dennis Kucinich; in NYC this past weekend, I saw Michelle Williams and (I believe Heath Ledger) in Brooklyn.

So, because I need to console myself about living in a less hip, less dynamic, less urban, more conservative city--and really, I live in NoVA, which is a city-cum-suburb, I'm going to comprise a "Weekend in D.C." travel guide to prove to someone (me?) that D.C. is (At least the Metro remains superior).

Just a note about the following guide: the places below to which I have not personally visited come highly recommended by others or are generally known as beloved D.C. institutions. So without further a due...

(Note: anything denoted with a $ sign costs money; anything without that notation is free!)

Friday: Museum Day

  • Morning
    • National Gallery (Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial or Smithsonian)
  • Lunch
    • Walk to U.S. Senate Cafeteria, Dirksen or Russell Building ($)
  • Afternoon
    • Air and Space Museum
    • Freer and Hirshorn Galleries (Metro: L'Enfant Plaza or Smithsonian)
  • Evening
    • Jazz club on U. Street or the Black Cat ($) (Metro: U Street-Cardozo)

Saturday: Monument Day

  • Morning
    • Arlington National Cemetery and Iwo Jima (Metro: Arlington Cemetery, Rosslyn)
  • Afternoon
    • White House (tour optional) (Metro: McPherson Square or Farragut West)
    • Old Executive Office Building
    • Renwick Gallery and/or Phillips Collection ($) (had to throw in a few more great art museums, esp. the Phillips) (Metro: DuPont Circle)
  • Dinner
    • Old Ebbit Grill (Metro: Metro Center)
  • Evening
    • Walk from Old Ebbit Grill to the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Korean War Memorial (in my opinion, doing the memorials in the evening makes them all the more striking)

Sunday: D.C. Neighborhood day

  • Morning
    • Eastern Market: visit the market on 7th and North Carolina, stop for coffee at one of the nearby coffee shops, like Murky Coffee, and at Capitol Hill Books, then walk East on North Carolina to Lincoln Park (Metro: Eastern Market)
  • Afternoon and Evening
    • Dupont Circle, Kalorama, Georgetown: in Dupont, stop by Kramer Books, then walk up Connecticut Ave. until Kalorama Road, where there are beautiful homes (Metro: DuPont Circle)
  • Evening
    • Kennedy Center concert ($) (Metro: Foggy Bottom)

Please comment, take issue with, or offer suggestions to this itinerary. It is certainly a work in progress and furthermore reflects my own personal tastes, which tend towards art viewing and neighborhood exploring. Oh, and I definitely could use more restaurant suggestions. The D.C. restaurant scene is a little too lobbyist-oriented for me to be able to justify becoming an afficiando (i.e., I could not handle the expense).

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