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”
Bill Noxon (bio), a public relations practitioner, shares his favorites.
Favorite Places to Visit
My work led me to a couple of these choices after having more than a normal visitor’s access, so my picks may have some innate prejudices.
- The White House — Whether or not you agree with the politics of whomever is the sitting president, there is nothing more exciting than getting an up-close and personal look at this fascinating place. It’s not as large as it may appear in pictures, and when you go into the press room where they hold daily briefings, it feels like you’re inside a small box because of the tight theater-style seating and all the equipment buzzing around you. Yet, that’s the room you see every day on TV and where White House spokesmen reach millions with their communications on presidential activity and policy. The other rooms up in the main White House complex are a little smaller than one may expect, but their beauty, furnishings and art leave you almost speechless. Many rooms give you a wonderful view of the Rose Garden. When you consider you’re walking on the same floors as every president since the White House was built, you realize that you are probably one of the very few Americans who have the opportunity to be inside this seat of global power. It is an awesome place. I’ve personally been fortunate enough to be able to walk many of the rooms without tour guides and just contemplate the experience. I’ve been involved in ceremonies in the East Room with Presidents Clinton and Bush, which were all exciting events. And I can verify from having the opportunity to attend a few presidential receptions that the White House food is — in a word — fantastic. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC [White House Visitor Center, 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC | White House Tours]
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial — I was not in Vietnam, but was in the Army during the final couple of years of this conflict. If you are of an age that you have had friends or family involved in Vietnam, the 58,000 or so names that stream across this marvelous monument leave you literally without words. Even though I know of no personal friends who were casualties, I go back and continually scan the names. It’s not that I want to find someone I know, but it’s one of those eerie things that draws you back. The names represent real people, young people, whose lives were lost trying to do their duties in support of our nation. web site, search for names at The Wall, map (approximately 22nd Avenue NW and Constitution Avenue NW). Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is probably a good corollary if you’re paying tribute to our fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen, but nothing leaves you quite as struck as this Vietnam memorial. web site, map (located just beyond the western end of the Memorial Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial is located at the eastern end of Arlington Memorial Bridge)
- The Capitol — This used to be my favorite place to visit because of its beauty and its history, but the recent security measures have really detracted from the Capitol’s true personality. There was a time you could walk into most entrances, get into the House and Senate galleries with little problem, and in fact, during my early days of broadcast news, I was able to cover many hearings in both chambers, and pretty much come and go without question. And not too long ago, it was common to see Senators and Congressmen walk by, and if you recognized them, you might get a few words with them. The atmosphere isn’t as welcoming as it once was, but the building still has a lot of charm, and it is another of those “can’t miss experiences” if you are in DC. web site, map
- Smithsonian Air and Space Museum — Even for those who aren’t especially interested in aviation, this is still one of the nation’s most attractive “free” experiences. The kids love it. Some of the old aircraft and space vehicles are suspended high above the main floor, while others are available to on the floor for close-up viewing. The museum is beautifully laid out so that you can take escalators up and down to many other displays, theater presentations and interactive exhibits. I haven’t looked at statistics recently on visitation, but this seems to be one the one place tourists all migrate to because of its central location and interesting presentation. web site, Independence Avenue SW at 6th Street SW, Washington, DC, 202-633-2563
- The Lincoln Memorial — Of all the individual memorials in Washington, this one still makes my heart pound when I go there. It’s not just that it’s Abe Lincoln and his legacy that are presented there. But it’s the beauty of the statue, the words that grace the interior, and the remarkable view as you turn back toward the Mall and see the Washington Monument and Capitol Rotunda squarely ahead. Then there are visions of the many historic events that occurred there, such as the Vietnam war protests, Martin Luther King, Junior’s great speeches, the stirring performances given there during Independence Day and other special occasions. web site, map, next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, article from Wikipedia
- Others — You can make a full day of Smithsonian’s various museums of art, science and technology and never walk more than a mile [web site | also see “Museums, Memorials and Monuments in DC” from TheCapitol.Net]. The John F. Kennedy Memorial on the edge of Arlington National Cemetery [web site] should be a stop on your tour. People are starting to “lose the significance” of this tragic event in our nation’s history, so I tend to steer people there. There are those who believe Washington has recently become too crowded with new memorials [e.g., FDR, WWII], diluting the significance of each. But I still believe many of the earlier monuments hold the most beauty, and places like the White House and Capitol retain their importance because they are still very active as part of our national character and historical relevance.
Fun Things to Do
- Fourth of July celebrations — These are always great. They bring people together in harmony, and it’s a great traditional party in Washington. None was better than the bicentennial celebration. But they are all good. web site
- Return of baseball — My own favorite things include the return of baseball to DC, and I will “most definitely” escalate this to the top of my list when the new Nationals‘ stadium opens next year. Driving down South Capitol Street once a month gives you a great “progress” snapshot of the new ballpark. And it’s going to be a beauty. Washington Nationals, web site, RFK Stadium, 2400 East Capitol Street NE, Washington, DC. [Also see “Sports in DC” from TheCapitol.Net]
- Scottish Walk in Old Town Alexandria — This used to be an annual winter event for me before moving somewhat far out of town. A great bagpipe parade, followed by some exploring in Old Town makes for a fun full day. web site, Alexandria, VA: map, “The Fun Side of the Potomac”
- Biking along the Potomac from Old Town Alexandria to Mount Vernon (home of George Washington) on the Mount Vernon Trail. Another of my favorite former activities, but hundreds still do this on a weekly basis, and it’s a beautiful ride down the river that is almost flat for most of the ride. Mount Vernon Trail, web site from National Park Service, web site from Bike Washington. Also see “The Visitor’s Biking Guide to Washington DC”
- Sampling microbrews at various bars and restaurants around town. Like exploring new restaurants, it can be a fun tasting experience. [See Microbreweries and Brew Pubs by students in MGT 558: Marketing & Community at The Catholic University of America: DC, MD, Northern VA]
This is harder. Most of my eating is now done outside of DC.
- L’ Auberge in Great Falls. After many decades, it’s probably still near the top in fine French eating in the area. Maybe there are better, but never are you disappointed at this great restaurant. web site, 332 Springvale Road, Great Falls, VA [Economist | TCEDG]
- Luigi’s on 19th Street. Another old DC institution. Lots of Italian places come and go, but Luigi’s is an institution, with some great pizza and exquisite Italian dishes for its pricing. The pizza is not quite what it was in the 1970s, but its other dishes are still wonderful. web site – Warning: slow to load flash 1132 19th Street NW, Washington, DC, 202-331-7574 [WaPo | insiderpages | WETA | Yelp]
- Chart House in Old Town Alexandria. Great atmosphere and seafood selections. web site, One Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA, 703-684-5080 [openlist | Yelp]
- Cafe Tirolo, Arlington. This little place on Fairfax Drive tucked behind Tara Thai is operated by one of D.C.’s former top chefs (from Austria) who opened up his own place in Alexandria before moving to Arlington. A walk-up and order kind of place, the food is varied, and absolutely delicious. 4001 Fairfax Drive, # 16, Arlington, VA, 703-528-7809 [TCEDG | WaPo | MenuPages | openlist | Yelp]
- About 25 Chinese restaurants could share this position [see TCEDG – Chinese]. Hard to choose a favorite. You can go almost anywhere in the city and find some truly top-notch Chinese eating. Unfortunately, my personal favorite is Yangming in Philadelphia near Villanova University and Bryn Mawr College. Nothing compares! If it were a DC restaurant, it would jump to # 1 on my list. Yangming, web site, 1051 Conestoga Road, Bryn Mawr, PA, 610-527-3200 [Citysearch | MenuPages | Yelp]
For more, also see our Visiting Washington DC pages
For more than 40 years, TheCapitol.Net and its predecessor, Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences, have been teaching professionals from government, military, business, and NGOs about the dynamics and operations of the legislative and executive branches and how to work with them.
Our custom on-site and online training, publications, and audio courses include congressional operations, legislative and budget process, communication and advocacy, media and public relations, testifying before Congress, research skills, legislative drafting, critical thinking and writing, and more.
TheCapitol.Net is on the GSA Schedule, MAS, for custom on-site and online training. GSA Contract GS02F0192X
TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan small business.
Teaching how Washington and Congress work ™