As far as I’m concerned, Washington DC is the best city on the east coast. Please bear in mind: I’ve only been to Boston once, New York City a handful of times, Philadelphia a shit ton but it’s kind of not in this contest because it’s like home. Oh and Baltimore sucks so bad.
With a march full of half a million strong, empowered, kind individuals taking place in DC on Saturday, and with my plan to not step foot in the city for the next four years, I thought I’d take a moment to share how much the city normally means to me. Washington DC is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly the city for me. DC and I jive. We mesh. We just go together. IT GETS ME.
Before getting into the details of how fabulous our nation’s capital is, I will give you a brief history of our relationship. For some reason unknown to me, and maybe to him, my father and I used to take annual trips down to DC. I think I must have expressed an interest after our family’s first trip over President’s Day weekend during 5th grade. I remember doing a powerpoint presentation on the trip in Mr. West’s class and people were impressed with my floppy disk skills (that’s not a joke).
So, for whatever reason, the dad-daughter-DC trip was an annual thing. At first, it was always during winter break and always just us two. The first one was just a day trip and I wore a terrible groufit. After a bunch of years, we must have maxed out the places we wanted to see, and we decided to switch our trip to April instead to see the Cherry Blossom Festival. IT WAS AMAZING! This is when we also switched over to biking vs. walking – the smartest decision anyone can make in the city of Washington DC. It’s over 2 miles between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Building!!!! That’s a topic for a different day, though.
Strolling around DC on bikes with the cherry blossoms in bloom all over the damn city is probably one of the most lovely memories I have. We got lucky and caught the trees in full bloom that year, they were seriously EVERYWHERE, and we saw them with ease on two wheels. I remember silently giggling in my head as I peddled past all the slow moving walkers around me (again, not a joke). All very pleasant.
We’ve gone for the cherry blossoms a time or two more since then, but weren’t as lucky and missed the peak bloom for those finicky trees. But still, I’ve really enjoyed every trip I’ve taken to DC. Overall, I think I’ve taken about 10-12 trips. Looking back, these trips mean a lot to me and probably are a big reason why I’m so fond of the city. Since then, my dad has taken to biking around less crowded areas of the east coast, and I’ve gone about 3 or 4 times without him. I think of my dad whenever I go see Abe, though.
Anyway, enough of that sob story. Along with all the nostalgia and memories I have with DC, there are so many great aspects that lure me in. First of all, hi I’m Amy and I love presidents and I love history. This might be the corniest thing ever, but I can feel all the historic moments and presidential goodness and judicial reviews that have happened in that city as I walk (or bike) around. There’s just a different vibe in this east coast city and I appreciate that. So I’ve loved the numerous opportunities I’ve had to see Lincoln sitting in his marble chair, or stand in awe at the bottom of the Washington Monument, or take a tour of the Capitol Building and stand on the Crypt. I’ve complained about the distance between things tons of times, but the fact that it’s all so spaced out doesn’t actually bother me too much; the huge buildings and oversized monuments make the city seem that much more important. The history that occurred there and will continue to happen there needs to be remembered, and I find it very fitting to memorialize the people and events that shaped America so strongly in such a dramatic, larger-than-life manner.
AND DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THE MUSEUMS. If James Smithson was still alive, I would track him down and ask him to marry me. The Smithsonian Institute museums, if you are unaware, are an unbelievable collection museums and cultural centers that hold some of the most amazing art, science, and history in the country. In his will, Smithson stated his estate to be used “to found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” I will give him a break about the lack of women included due to the time period.
I have not been to all of the museums, but I’ve been to most. I know everyone loves to rave about the Air and Space Museum, but I highly recommend the Postal Museum and the American Art Museum. Both are phenomenal and both are a bit off the National Mall, which helps with congestion. Plus, they are all free! FREE!
There are tons of great other spots that aren’t Smithsonian-owned. I had the chance to go to:
- The US Botanic Garden (NPS, you’ve outdone yourself again)
- The National Archives (home of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights… you know, small, worthless documents)
- Ford’s Theater (Very insane to be in the same room Lincoln was shot)
- Department of the Interior and the National Park Service library (!!!)
Let me know if you want more recommendations. The last wonderful detail about Washington DC I want to share – and I don’t think I can truly stress how much this one means to me – is the public transportation system. The Metrorail in this city is UN.BE.LIEV.ABLE. I can’t say it enough. There are 6 lines (hey, new silver line!) that run powered with magic and common sense – you can clearly identify what line you should be taking and which direction you should be going at any given station. I mean, just look at the transit map. Clean, full of bright colors, easy to read. And the payment system makes so much sense – no paper, no different ways to pay depending on what line you’re on… ugh Philadelphia, please take notes. This seems like a trivial item, but I love efficiency and I love public transportation very, very, very much.
Now I take pride in going with groups of friends and being able to navigate the metro, give them my recommendations of which museums are better than others (opinion-based, of course), and sharing stories about past trips. Hopefully this isn’t too annoying. I could ramble all day about my love and adoration, I try to keep it to a manageable limit. And after our god-awful recent election, I knew I wanted to take one more trip down to the capital while a respectable president was in office. It was a superb way to spend a few days right before Christmas and I’m glad I was able to wave to Barack and Sunny from a distance, outside the White House gates, one last time.
Basically, I just wrote a book about how much I love Washington DC. If you’ve made it here, thanks for reading! You now know about a city that I consider a big part of me and my values, and should maybe consider a trip there. Head back over to Explore in a few days to see a post about my most recent trip there!
Some snippets and photos from throughout the years…