Summer vacations may evoke some less than fond memories of failed road trips with your family or disastrous trips to destination locations. Seasoned traveler or not, this summer should include a vacation to our nations capital, Washington D.C.
D.C. isn’t just somewhere you should see once on a school vacation and just forget about. This city has so much to offer to college students in particular. Traveling on a budget can be difficult and feel limiting, but the great thing about D.C. is that most every museum, art gallery, government building and any other attraction is free.
History buffs, foodies, politicos, animal lovers and art geeks alike can find more than enough to keep them busy and entertained while on this vacation. The Smithsonian Museums and Zoos have seventeen free attractions in the D.C. area. Fun restaurants like Kramerbooks and afterwords, Larry's Ice Cream or Lauriol Plaza have great food on a budget that will keep you satisfied as you venture further into the city to the National Mall, the White House and the Capitol building. If the heat gets to be too much, stop into one of the museums or galleries lining the Mall to cool off and see some amazing displays of American history and artwork.
D.C. is definitely a walking city, as one Gavel writer from the area pointed out in her blog. If walking a mile from DuPont circle to the White House sounds like too much, taking the Metro is as easy as taking the T but much faster. It is also incredibly easy to book a tour of the national monuments on a bus or a trolley. This is a great way to develop a plan of attack instead of trekking for miles around the city trying to see everything in one day. These tour all leave from Union Station, which is a great place to stop by for a bite to eat or a little bit of retail therapy.
The Smithsonian National Zoo is located less than a mile up Connecticut Avenue from the Woodley Park Zoo / Adams Morgan Metro stop. Friendly advice: to avoid fighting with middle school aged children for prime viewing space of the pandas, lions or any other animal, go to the zoo early in the morning or later at night. The zoo opens at six in the morning and closes at seven most nights. Also, to avoid getting lost and spending too much time in the zoo, buy the map at the entrance. It will make life that much easier while navigating through the zoo and is essential to finding the way back out.
Not too far from the zoo is the Rock Creek National Park, which is a great place to escape the city and go biking or hiking. This area is also home to the neighborhood known as Adams Morgan, which has been dubbed D.C.’s East Village. While my mom, a Greenwich Village gal, saw little similarities between the two, the area has some amazing restaurants thanks to its extremely high concentration of Ethiopian and Hispanic citizens.
This is most definitely a trip worth taking. With cheap friends or a picky family, there is something in this marvelous city to satisfy anyone on any budget with all sorts of interests.