Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Native Washingtonians often draw a distinction
between "Washington"—the official city that tourists see—and "DC"—the
place where they make their home.
The best visits to the Nation's Capital
combine a little from both locations, and while you're there, here are the
draws we say it's fine to pass over.
If there is anything hard about planning a trip to DC,
it's overabundance.
The city has a lot to offer and much of it is free, so the
key to doing it right is prioritization.
Few things on the list below are
without value (except for driving) but many have a longer wait for a less
satisfying pay-off.
Figure out what works best for you, but don't be shy about
taking a turn off the beaten track.
The Capitol Other than Congress itself, there's not much inside the
Capitol building that's particularly exciting.
(Take note, DC is the nation's
capital, but the iconic building is the Capitol.) This isn't always true if
you get an especially talented tour guide—the stories are what animate the
But with Hill interns, it's hit or miss—plus, planning for a
tour takes a little work.
Also, the building is full of ugly statues that make
every corridor look cluttered.
Save time and appreciate the view from the
The Archives The Constitution! The Declaration of Independence! A copy
of the Magna Carta! Arguably the most important objects a person can see in
DC, but the wait is long, the text easy to Google, and the documents
themselves are just paper.
It's a hard sell, particularly when traveling with
Try the National Gallery of Art sculpture garden (which features ice
skating in winter and live jazz in summer) out back.
Museums That Charge Admission Yes, we're talking about the Spy Museum
and the Newseum.
With so many free, world-class museums nearby, these are easy
to skip.
Georgetown Charming, yes, but not easy to get to.
And there's just as
much great shopping—if not better—along the U Street corridor and in
Dupont Circle.
Chinatown In many American cities, Chinatown is the go-to place for
delicious (and often cheap) food, as well as a living testament to communities
of immigrants who have helped build the country since the 1810s.
But in DC,
since the construction of the Verizon Center in 1997, the population of
Chinese Americans living in the neighborhood has dropped from 3,000 to 300.
bevy of chain restaurants and luxury condos followed in their wake.
remains is a Chinatown only in name: think Chipotle and Hooters with signs
both in English and Chinese script.
The neighborhood's beautiful blue and gold
Friendship Archway, a gift from Beijing from 1986, is the only sight worth
Eating on the Mall There is one exception to this rule—the Museum of
the American Indian's fabulous Mitsitam café—but on the whole, the food is
unexceptional and overpriced.
Walk a few blocks (or a few museums over) to get
a better tasting, and better value, meal.
Driving The streets really aren't as confusing as the out-of-towners
make them out to be, even with the roundabouts, but the traffic is.
With the
second largest public transportation system in the country (with total miles
of rail second only to New York City)—avail yourself of the convenience of
the Metro.
Molly McArdle is a native Washingtonian and a writer based in Brooklyn.
can find her on both Twitter and Instagram at @mollitudo.
Native Washingtonians often draw a distinction between
"Washington"—the official city that tourists see—and
"DC"—the place where they make their home....

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