You might think Washington, DC isn’t your cup of tea. Maybe you think it’s about wearing a suit, talking politics, or being politically correct or wearing suits. Stuffy and lacking character—is that what comes to mind when you think of the District of Columbia? Well, perhaps you need to experience the real DC—the aspects of America’s capital that are more than the museums. The real DC is about the people who live here, many of whom hail from all over the nation and the world. People who live in or came to DC to enjoy life and have fun. Take a look at how history, culture, and fun mesh in a city you may have only seen from one myopic perspective. Try these things:
1. See the monuments at night
The locals are aware that the best time to visit the National Mall to see the historical monuments is not in the light of day, but when the night falls on the city. Washington, DC lights up these monuments with intensity.
2. Join a local celebration
After your monument tour, put on a costume and head to Georgetown for the city’s biggest Halloween celebration. People come out in droves dressed in traditional ethnic garb and crazy costumes. They pack the bars and revel in the festivities all night long.
3. Step outside the city
Take a short metro ride from Washington, DC to Old Town Alexandria, Va. This is a bustling town on the Potomac River that embraces an old-world feel. It’s a perfect window into what life is like outside the city. It’s filled with unique boutiques, cafes, boutiques, and craft stores. If you can find a local to show you around, that’s even better.
4. Step deep inside the city
Locals often visit Rock Creek Park, a cherished outdoor haven that makes one feel as if they are millions of miles away from any civilization. Yet, it’s right in the center of the city! Take a peaceful walk or have a sit-down and gaze at the glorious fall foliage or the springtime cherry blossoms.
5. Hang out at the drum circle at Meridian Hill Park
What started more than 50 years ago as a celebration of African American culture and liberation has now become a weekly drum circle at Meridian Hill Park. According to DC Injury Lawyers, the drum circle highlights just how many diverse individuals and cultures come together to make Washington, DC a great city. It’s a lively celebration featuring drummers, dancers, acrobats, yogis, and more in a festival atmosphere. Join the dancing and drumming, or sit back and take it all in.
6. Dine at a local legend
What looks like your run-of-the-mill cheap diner from the outside is a restaurant famous for putting chili on the top of an old-fashioned hot dog. Presidents and endless locals have eaten at Ben’s Chili Bowl. It’s not near the main tourist spots. It’s a well-kept secret that you have to know about. And once you’re let in on the secret, you have to see what all the fuss is about.
When you see it in a non-touristy way, Washington, DC may speak to you like never before. There are so many local places to explore off the beaten path. When you engage with the city, the city engages with you, displaying character and pride above what you could have imagined.