24 Hours: Washington, DC

Matthew Stafford's no-nonsense guide to his Nation's Capital

Travel, USA  /   /  By Annie

Matthew Stafford shares his advice for a tourist with only 24 hours in the Nation’s Capital City:

For someone visiting our (my) nation’s capitol, my first advice would be to get yourself a day pass for the Capital Bikeshare. DC is a bike-friendly city and this is the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to get around town. Just remember to stay off the sidewalks! DolceZZa pulls some of the best espresso shots in the city and makes a great place to start your day; don’t forget to grab a churro or three before you leave.

Right now, DC is popularly known for two things: House of Cards and Pandas. As House of Cards is filmed in Baltimore, my recommendation is to head north from DolceZZa and visit the (free) National Zoo. I’d direct you towards some of the other exhibits but we all know the main reason to go to the zoo is to watch Bao Bao, our Panda, fall out of trees, off of rocks or just generally serve as evidence that not all of nature can be majestic.

DC is a brunch town (sorry, New York, you’ve got nothing on us) and before you head to the National Mall you’re going to need to stop at Ted’s Bulletin for the Walk of Shame breakfast burrito. Think of it as foreshadowing. Once at the mall I’ll leave the museum choice to you, but if you have the heart of an eight year old boy it is worth noting that the Air and Space museum sells freeze dried ice cream and the Natural History museum has dinosaurs. After a brief stroll around the Sculpture Garden have a sit on the mall to watch the sun set behind the Washington Monument for the perfect DC photo-op.

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For dinner, I often (as Annie can attest to) take visitors to The Pig. Barrel aged cocktails and a pork-centric menu will fuel your night. After a drink or three, make your way over to the 9:30 Club on V Street. Opened in 1980 and then relocated in the mid-ninties, the 9:30 Club served as one of the focal points of DC’s hardcore punk scene and is still arguably the best venue in the city. After, a short walk down the block will put you at DC9 for post show drinks and one of the better dance parties in the city.

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It’s at this point in the night that everyone you meet will tell you that, as a tourist, you have to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. Don’t do it. For the love of Christ and all that is Holy, don’t do it. Instead, head south down to Chinatown for New Big Wong, a service-industry favorite that is open til 5AM.

Grab a cab home, you’ve earned it.

Final Notes: DC is not K Street. This town has so much more to offer than expense account restaurants and generic nightclubs. Ask locals, don’t be afraid to make friends and above all, explore. DC is vibrant, full of culture and life that goes unnoticed by the average tourist.

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