DC tips for a nerdy tourist
So glad you asked, @denesha. I guess it depends what kind of nerd you are (history buff? arts? tech?), but here are tips from this nerd🤓.
- •First: buy a SmartTrip metro card and download BusTrack and iTrans DC appsThe paper cards end up being more expensive and they'll also slow you down. Don't be afraid to use the buses, too, since metro is a mess this summer with all the track work, and the buses are clean and less crowded and cheaper—and there are so many routes to choose from! SmartTrip works on WMATA metro and buses, and also the circulator buses.
- •Now, nerdy DC things:
- •Folger Shakespeare LibraryThe world's largest Shakespeare collection 😍. Free tours daily. Tours of the reading library on Saturday only though, and you need to make reservations. Specific exhibit tours vary but right now the exhibit is on Will Shakespeare and Jane Austen and the cult of celebrity and I'm personally itching to go. DO NOT miss out on seeing s play at their theatre if you enjoy plays. It's a gorgeous theatre and they do amazing productions.
- •National Gallery of ArtMuseums are always wonderful, but they're also a great way to beat the DC heat, and this one is my favorite Smithsonian. It has something for just about everyone. I'm a huge fan of the Impressionists, and Jan van Eyck and Renaissance painters, so I tend to stick to the west wing. The rotunda is also great for gramming.
- •The ZooThe National Zoo is seriously fun, and free (as are all Smithsonian museums)! It's open to the public and you don't have to worry about lines to get in, though you may have to worry about crowds. I suggest grabbing breakfast, or at least coffee to go, from Open City, which is down the hill and near the Woodley Park Metro) and then making the 10 minute walk to the zoo on a full stomach. Definitely see the pandas, elephants, tigers, and lions.
- •Air & Space and Natural History MuseumsTwo more go-tos for me, because space and space travel is mind blowing, and dinosaurs are super cool.
- •National Museum of Women in the Arts'Another museum Liz, really?' Last one, I swear. Art from 16th Century to contemporary works If you go the first Sunday of the month, they waive the $10 admission fee. And it's right by CityCenter DC so you can stop by Momofuku CCDC or Milk Bar for a bite to eat afterwards.
- •Presidents' homesLA has celeb house spotting, but I'll always prefer DC's famous houses. Some of the homes are still private residences, some are museums, many are embassies, and most are all easy to find. See @washingtonpost list here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/local/presidents-homes/. Woodrow Wilson House had vintage game nights with wine and games and while I'll be honest, I have yet to go, I've heard great things.
- •Capitol Hill Books
- •Monuments and MemorialsYou can't come to DC and skip seeing the monuments. My favorites are Thomas Jefferson, right on the tidal basin, the WWII memorial, and of course the Lincoln memorial. My suggestion? See them during the day (morning) if you haven't yet, but if this isn't your first time in DC, go see them at night. It's quieter, cooler, and the views are stunning. DC at night is really magical.
- •Food! There's so much good food in DC.If you're at the National Mall, head to Penn Quarter/Gallery Place (5-15 min walk) and try Jaleo or Zaytinya. If you're in Eastern Market, try Belga Café or Ted's Bulletin. If you want to splurge, go to The Hamilton or Mintwood Place. If you're near Adams Morgan, let me and @bookishclaire know and we'll meet you at Southern Hospitality, Bourbon, or Perry's. For brunch, I recommend Barrel. Also, see this: FAVORITE AFFORDABLE DC RESTAURANTS
- •Things you can probably skip:Washington monument tour (go see it, sure, but I don't think the lines and long trip to the top in the heat is really worth it); duck boat tour; JFK tour (ok actually if you're a huge Kennedy fanatic it might be worth it, but I'm not); Capitol Tour (actually I kinda like this one, but Congress is on recess until Sept 7 so it'll be way quieter than usual and you won't get to experience the hustle and bustle—for some people, maybe a good thing); Georgetown Cupcakes (hit Baked and Wired instead)