We asked our faculty and authors to share with us some of their favorite things about living in our nation’s capital. Their responses are posted in “Faculty Favorites”
Brad Fitch (bio), author of Media Relations Handbook, shares his favorites. His favorite book and movies about Washington, DC, are here.
Five most interesting places to visit
- FDR Memorial. This is more than a monument to a man. This is a monument to America at a unique time in our history. As you walk through this remarkable monument spread out over about 1/2 an acre, the three decades that spanned Roosevelt’s speak to you. My 11-year old nephew visited me for a week and saw everything in DC, and when I asked him what made the greatest impressions, he said it was the FDR Memorial. web site, map (only accessible by car from the northbound lanes of George Washington Parkway, just north of I-66, and by bike and foot on the Mt. Vernon Trail from the Rosslyn side of Key Bridge)
- The Capitol. If you’re coming to Washington a visit to the Capitol is required. However, until the Capitol Visitors Center is completed in 2009, there is no good tour system set up. Your best bet is to call your congressman or senator’s office at least four weeks in advance and ask them if they’ll give you a tour. All Members of Congress offer this service, and you might be lucky and get some bright intern who actually knows a thing or two about the most amazing building in America. web site, map
- Teddy Roosevelt Island. This is one of those gems in DC that only a few locals know about, so I’m violated a code by revealing it here. On the other side of the Potomac River across from the Mall is this small island. It includes a few walking trails, but most importantly it includes a monument to one of the most interesting and dynamic presidents in history. In typical Teddy fashion, you have to walk through the woods — one of TR’s favorite pastimes — to reach a glade. Before you is a statue of the commanding Roosevelt, 40-foot tall, surrounded by fountains and large slabs with wonderful Roosevelt quotes. web site, map (only accessible by car from the northbound lanes of George Washington Parkway, just north of I-66, and by bike and foot on the Mt. Vernon Trail from the Rosslyn side of Key Bridge)
- Union Station. It’s amazing to think they almost tore down this building in the 1980’s and that we have former Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole to thank for it’s renovation. Inside is a fun food court, nice shops (although a bit overpriced), good bookstores, and many restaurants. If you’re in town around Christmas you have to stop by the display put on by the country of Norway: a magnificent toy train set around a miniature town. web site, 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington DC, Metro
- Dumbarton Oaks. This garden next to a magnificent house is a great place to bring a book, a spouse, or girlfriend (but not all three at once). web site, 1703 32nd Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-339-6401
Five most favorite fun things to do
- Rent a Canoe on the Potomac. Rent a canoe at Thompson’s boat marina. You can gentle paddle next to the monuments, Washington Harbor and the JFK Center for Performing Arts. web site, 2900 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC, 202-333-9543
- Drinks at Hotel Washington. The food’s not worth staying for dinner, but get to the rooftop restaurant early on a spring or fall day and you get a breath-taking view of all of Washington. If you’re lucky, the President’s helicopter will take off or land next door, at the White House. web site, 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 202-638-5900
- Visit Eastern Market. This 1860’s old brick building is currently being rebuilt after a 2007 fire. But when restored, you can shop at local vendors and get some of the best blueberry pancakes in the world.
Come on the weekends to browse the flea market and the farmers markets. web site, 7th St & North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC, Metro
- Twilight Tattoo. This is another of those rarities that most people don’t know about. During the summer, every Wednesday on the Mall, the United States Army puts on a show for anyone who wants to see it on the history of the Army. Complete with bands, singers, horses, and costumes. You need to check the Army web site to get exact times and locations. web site
- Take in a Play at Ford’s Theater. There’s something about watching a play in this 150-year old theater, the same one where President Lincoln was shot. You can’t help but let your eyes wander occasionally from the players to see the empty box, draped in colors, where Lincoln watched the same stage. web site, 511 10th Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-347-4833
Four favorite restaurants
- Matchbox Pizza. This little brick building in near the MCI Center has quickly become a very popular destination. It has the best pizza in Washington (for New Yorkers, that means it’s “pretty good”). But they have creative toppings as well. web site, 713 H St NW, Washington, DC, 202-289-4441 [Washingtonian | Yelp]
- Two Quail. This little building on the North East of Capitol Hill looks like it was subjected to a Laura Ashley overdose. But it has a quaint way about it and the lunch food it great. They always have a fresh farmers salad, wonderful bread, and very comfortable chairs. Not my favorite for dinner because it’s a bit overpriced. web site, 320 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC, 202-543-8030 [WaPo | Yelp]
- M&S Grill. This is a very solid restaurant with great seafood and meat, reasonable prices, and good service. You’ll go home happy. web site, 600 13th St NW, Washington, DC, 202-347-1500 [WaPo | Yelp]
- Station Grill. If you come to DC through Union Station and need to get a meal while waiting for a train, there’s only one place to go in Union Station: Station Grill. There is nothing fancy about the surroundings but they have the best burgers in DC. They also have great salads with wonderful grilled veggies. Avoid the crab soup — it’s way too thick. But everything else is quite good with reasonable prices. web site, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC, 202-898-4745 [Yelp]
For more, also see our Visiting Washington DC pages
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