I noticed, during the last session at FGS 2019 I attended where folks mentioned where they were from, that only about 15% were local. DC can be overwhelming. There’s a ton to do and see; how do you know where to start? So here’s some metrofab advice and recommendations from a born and bred local.
Unless you are one of those ridiculously confident drivers who like parallel parking in extremely tight spots on narrow streets while a line of drivers behind you lay on their horns (that is, if you can find at spot at all), at all costs AVOID DRIVING IN DC. Take the metro. That’s what it’s for. The DC metro system is fairly clean due to the ban on food and drinks and not hard to navigate with plenty of signs, maps, and time countdowns until the next train. Really the trickiest part is figuring out how to use the metro card payment machines. Denise wrote a really great article on her blog (that is so good I won’t try to replicate it so I’m linking hers in) on how to use the metro system.
Yes, DC is pricy. If you live here, you’re used to it. If you don’t, you may be shocked at being asked to pay $11+ for a cocktail and $14+ for a burger. That’s just the breaks. However, like anywhere else, there are some inexpensive places that are worth frequenting. For instance, if you are wandering around nearby Adams Morgan, you’ll probably walk past a Jumbo Slice pizza place (there are several on the strip). GO IN! You don’t sit there, you order your slice and then take it to go. I said slice because if you order two, you must be really hungry. Each piece of pizza takes up two plates and is bigger than your head….plus they cost about $5 and taste amazing. Most of these places close late, too (like 3 a.m.)
My favorite places:
Kramerbooks & Afterwards Cafe – This is a quirky, must-see place in Dupont located merely steps away from the Dupont metro station, which is 1 stop away from the Woodley metro stop (the closest stop to the Omni Shoreham, where FGS 2019 is being held). You walk in to a decent sized bookstore that has a bit of a quirky DC flair to the selection. Keep going and you’ll see a small bar area and a larger restaurant area. I’ve eaten lunch and dinner here a few times (they also serve breakfast), but really the culinary appeal (for me, at least) centers around the desserts (bread pudding, peach cobbler, etc.) and the alcoholic drinks. This place has a lot of fun in creating interesting concoctions and they love to work with herbs and infusions (don’t be surprised if you see a drink with thyme or lavender on the menu). They also make a MEAN spiked coffee. So yes, I would eat at Kramerbooks any time, but I specifically recommend it as a late night stop. They are open until 3:00 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1:00 a.m. all other nights. Check it out if you love creative booze and late night book browsing!
The Mansion on O Street – This is not a quick, stop in place, but I would be remiss if I didn’t add this to my favorite places list because it is the place in the NoVA/DC area that I recommend the most. Picture an eccentric, art-loving millionaire who decided to buy a bunch of row houses (5 in total) in Georgetown, hooked them together to make one building, made it into a hotel and museum, filled it with interesting knick knacks ranging from deviled egg plates to artwork to guitars signed by John Lennon…then opened it to the public (for a fee, of course) and declared that everything from the beds to the books you find on the bookshelves is for sale (with the exception of the signed guitars). If you like something, you can buy it (I actually bought a dresser there once). That’s the Mansion on O Street. Oh, did I mention that it has over 70 secret doors and 100+ themed rooms that you can explore or rent out (Rosa Parks lived in one of the rooms that is now named after her)? Book one of the tours and go exploring! It is the most quirky place you can imagine and it’s hard not to feel like Alice in Wonderland wandering through this unique place. It is a MUST SEE if you have the time. Located on O street in Georgetown, the closest metro stop is Dupont station.
The Occidental – This place is posh and pricy, but the food and drinks are amazing and it’s well worth it for a culinary treat and a true DC experience. I am reminded of Margo Channing in All About Eve as she states, “this is where the elite meet.” The clientele is mostly made up of young professionals and the political decor reminds you that you are right next to the nation’s capital (The Occidental is located on Pennsylvania Avenue) and that presidents and politicians alike have dined here.
The Phillips Collection – You should definitely take advantage of the many free museums located in DC (the Hirshhorn is probably my fave of these), but if you’re willing to spend a few bucks (about $10-$12), I highly recommend the Phillips. Located on 21st St near the Dupont metro stop, this is a beautiful museum with an amazing collection of art, including Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. The Phillips hosts fun after hours events on occasion and the vibe is intimate (being smaller than some of the other art museums) and hip.
Do you have a favorite DC haunt? Let me know!