The Best (and Worst) of Washington DC

Normally I don’t do very much “travel” blogging, but clearly I’ve had a theme going this month – so I’m wrapping up July with all things Washington DC.

HOWEVER, let me fully advise you that our nation’s capitol is probably my least favorite city, possibly in the whole world. I’ve heard it referred to as “Hollywood for Ugly People” because it is very “who’s who” on the political circuit. Beings that I am not a huge fan of the government, and fully despise politicians, well………

But if I’m going to be there, I’m going to try to make the best of it. Here goes:

Best Place to See a Show

Ok I haven’t exactly seen shows at other venues in DC but the 930 Club is clearly legendary for a reason. They are known for booking great bands, the layout was great for the tall and short, and DUDESSSSS the bathrooms were spectacularly clean. We saw The Dead Milkmen (the band that essentially changed my husband’s and my life at a young age) and they played a really strong show for a totally fair price.

Best Museum

This month, I have probably spent my time in over 30 museums – including some of Europe’s most prestigious art and history museums, so DC had some tough competition. However, the National Gallery of Art was definitely a high point. I couldn’t believe all of the Smithsonian museums are FREE. Like seriously? I’m all for free stuff, but I really felt like I should be paying to see so many works from the masters. The museum was large, but not overwhelming like the Louvre, and yet I saw many pieces from Matisse, Monet, Manet, Vermeer, Van Gogh, de Goya, Bellini, Da Vinci, Raphael, you name it…


Although the picture is deceiving, the museum was relatively empty on both Sunday and Thursday afternoon.

*Props to the National Portrait Gallery and the new Crime Museum – they were both great stops, too.

Best Lunch

You’re going to think I’m crazy, but the hot dog stand right outside the National Gallery of Art really was the best lunch we had. Having a dad who has owned a hot dog stand my whole life, I know my hot dogs. For just a couple bucks, we got good-sized dogs with traditional but tasty toppings – and the women worked at the speed of lightning. DC is not a cheap city so I highly recommend skipping the tourists and the overpriced restaurants and going with an American standard.


Best Dinner

I gave you a cheap one, now here’s the expensive one. We eat a lot of Japanese food on a regular basis, so when we saw Daikaya right next to our hotel, we gave it a shot. It’s a cool little place above a ramen shop, with an interesting menu. We ordered a bazillion small plates, from a burratta salad to poke to italian style takoyaki. While the happy hour wine was cheap, the food was still on the expensive end – but we enjoyed it nonetheless.


No, I didn’t take this picture – but you get the idea.

The Running

While I spent most of my workouts in the hotel’s fitness room, I did get out for a morning run, along with the rest of the city. It seemed like everyone is a runner, and yet, the sidewalks are so wide and the streets are so easy to navigate that it felt super spacious at the same time. Running along the National Mall felt safe and had a lot of interesting things to see at the same time.

And that’s about all I could come up with for the good stuff. On to the bad stuff…

The Filth

When I was in 8th grade, I took the proverbial tour to Washington DC and was shocked at how much garbage littered the streets of our nation’s capitol, and how many corners stunk like urine. Sadly, 20 years later, nothing has changed. Everywhere we went, garbage was piling up. On a walk one night, I literally jumped as I passed a large animal rooting a recycling bin on the sidewalk (I’m pretty sure it was a 55 pound raccoon). I also had to sidestep what looked like human feces more than once. GROSS.

The Walkability

While the running is good, the walking SUCKS! Everything is soooo far apart, and it’s torturous to spend so much time walking over garbage in 85% humidity and not see cool shops or restaurants along the way. We did a lot of walking all over town, and all of it was bad.

The Natural History Museum

Having just been to Paris’s Natural History Museum, the Smithsonian version felt like a lot of bells and whistles for children and very few pieces of actual history. The poor layout means you are constantly bumping up into people or all cramming into the same corner to see the one item on display. They kept advertising the Egyptian mummies, but then when we got there we only saw two. That’s right: TWO.

The Air & Space Museum was comparable, if not more busy.

All in all, I’d be happy to never go back to DC. It’s just not my kind of town.

2 thoughts on “The Best (and Worst) of Washington DC

  1. We lived in DC for 3 years and I always felt sorry for the city itself. The city services and schools are notoriously underfunded and bad, bad, bad. Anything federal, though, is pretty sparkly. Taxation without representation in our nation’s capitol is a bad deal for the actual real people who live there!

    • Wow I never knew you lived there! Every year when I teach about Ancient Greece, the textbook says the public spaces were beautiful and the average private spaces were cramped, dirty, and uncomfortable. Some similarities there!

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