Defending the District’s vitality

During the last weeks, I’ve heard more complaints about the lack of excitement in D.C. than I had all last year. To readers from the City – being New York – Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta or Miami, let me start by saying, “I’m sorry.” No matter what I say, no matter what spin I put on D.C., this place will never compare to your hometowns. It shall never have the nightlife, livelihood, or spirit that those places carry. That being said, let me continue with this: if you actually bothered to leave Foggy Bottom, you’d realize D.C. is not so bad.

This article is a little tour guide for G-Dubbers frustrated with what they expected to be a city full of excitement. Having lived here for the summer, a season during which Foggy Bottom dies due to its dependency on student life, I was forced to wander past Pennsylvania Avenue to find something to do.

For the thoroughly clueless, we’ll begin with the basics. If you’re looking for good food, alcohol or are just in the mood for some debauchery – or you don’t feel like another weekend in Georgetown – hit up Adams Morgan. The very extensive selection of restaurants and bars on 18th Street is sure to offer you something. For those of you from New Jersey, check out The Diner. If there’s one thing the Garden State does well, it’s diner food and The Diner is true to what you would expect at any exit-ramp on the Parkway.

To the youngins who lack IDs, you’re probably bored of walking the monuments by now; here are some suggestions on where to go at night. Try Kramerbooks and Afterwords Caf? north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut Avenue. It combines a bookstore and caf? that has some of the best desserts in the city. If you’re looking for a study spot, check out Soho Tea and Coffee at 22nd and P. Soho is always full of students due to its free wireless internet. Both these places are open late during the week, and during the weekends they basically never close. More importantly, they’re both within walking distance. Lastly, for the culturally enlightened, check out HR-57 at 14th and Q; formally a “Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues,” it’s actually a quaint little place to sit down and listen to some good music.

The next biggest complaint people seem to have about D.C. is prices. With a 10 percent sales tax on top of inflated prices, it’s understandable. Smokers, with the exception of New Yorkers, probably hate paying for cigarettes here. Considering that D.C. has the 12th highest cigarette tax in the nation, a full dollar per pack according to the Federation of Tax Administrators, the answer to the smoker’s dilemma is not found in D.C. Instead of buying them here, take a ten-minute metro ride to Virginia, where the tax is 2.5 cents a pack, the lowest in the nation, and buy a few cartons.

The same goes for alcohol – if you’re buying on campus at Tokay or Riverside, you’re getting ripped off. All you econ majors know that a heavy demand for alcohol, coupled with convenience, is going to allow local shops to price gouge. Instead, walk a little bit further to S&R liquors at 18th and I streets. You’ll save a few dollars on most items. Better yet, if you have a car, try Shoppers on Route 1 in Virginia or take the Metro to Pentagon City’s Costco.

Lastly, here is something for the hopeless romantics aching for an escape from a world of suits. Wander down to Jack’s Boathouse at the end of K Street on the Georgetown waterfront, rent a kayak and row to Teddy Roosevelt Island. Another free alternative is to hike through Rock Creek Park or the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT). A lot of people don’t realize that while Rock Creek starts in Foggy Bottom as a dirty stream next to HOVA, it goes all the way up to around Silver Spring. Try taking the Metro to the National Zoo and hiking from there. The CCT starts in Georgetown at the end of K Street and goes 11 miles to Bethesda. All of these options offer serenity and scenic views.

This article is based on the places that I’ve visited and enjoyed over the last two years. The reason I can write all this is because I’ve gone out of my way to look for these experiences instead of being content sitting in my dorm whining about how much I miss NYC. There’s more to the District than politicians and lobbyists; you just have to put forth the effort. Good luck.

-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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