Where to Go: Discovering the District

Washington, D.C. is full of some of the best hotspots in the nation. And the best part is you do not have to be 21 to experience them. Here are some conventional and not-so-conventional places you can explore in the District.

The tourist attractions

The National Mall, the Washington Monument, the White House, the Smithsonian – most of us have been there with dozens of other nose-picking ten-year-olds on a field trip to D.C. Now is the perfect opportunity to take the time and really explore and appreciate these deeply historical places. When the tourists are gone, go to the monuments at night when they are lit up – it’s one of the most beautiful sights to see in the city.

The museums

Washington, D.C. is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums. A new one that is noteworthy is the Newseum (6th Street and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.), a 250,000-square-foot seven-level interactive museum of news. You can act as a TV reporter in the NBC News Interactive Newsroom. And with exhibits like the 9/11 gallery, featuring an actual mangled broadcast antenna from the top of the World Trade Center, the Newseum is quickly becoming one of the best attractions in the city.

The food

Nearly every D.C. neighborhood has at least a couple Zagat-rated restaurants. And not all of them cost $30 for an appetizer the size of a quarter. In Chinatown, Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro (713 H Street, N.W.) is a must. The mini burgers (3 for $8, 6 for $12 or 9 for $15) pack big flavor and the gourmet pizzas ($10 to $21) are cooked in an authentic wood-fired masonry oven.

And of course there’s the D.C. landmark, Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U Street, N.W.), celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. You can almost taste the deeply embedded roots of history and culture in their famous chili dogs and milkshakes. Duke Ellington, Bill Cosby, even Bono have all been regular customers over the years.

While you’re in the neighborhood, Love Café (1501 U. Street, N.W.) is the go-to place for dessert. Their infamous cupcake bar features decadent $3 cupcakes with rich butter-cream frosting that will melt your mouth. Also, check out The Diner (2453 18th Street, N.W.) and Tryst Coffeehouse and Bar (2459 18th Street, N.W.) in Adams Morgan.

But of course none of these restaurants take GWorld. Fear not – there are several restaurants worth mentioning close to campus that accept Colonial Cash. In Georgetown, Paper Moon (1073 31st Street, N.W.) serves up Italian food in a cozy atmosphere. News Café (3056 M Street, N.W.) is one of the only (and best) places that serves brunch on GWorld. Chipotle (1837 M Street, N.W.), which makes the biggest and best burritos, will quickly become your go-to spot for lunch and dinner.

The arts

The District is an atmosphere rich in the arts and culture that can be especially seen in neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. The Kennedy Center (2700 F Street, N.W.) offers free musical and dance performances to the public on their Millennium Stage every day at 6 p.m. Though the District is no Times Square, that doesn’t mean Broadway shows don’t stop in the city. The National Theatre (1321 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) features Broadway touring shows as well as original plays, music and performances. Students get half price tickets. “Mamma Mia!” will be playing from June 24 to July 13 on the main stage.

There are several smaller theatre companies in D.C. that have made a name for themselves as well. The Wooly Mammoth Theatre (641 D Street, N.W.) puts on provocative plays and is “Washington’s most daring theatre company,” according to The New York Times.

The music

D.C.’s music scene has continued to flourish since jazz greats Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald were a part of “Washington’s Black Broadway” and Chuck Brown pioneered the go-go music genre. Today, the indie music scene has a large presence in the Washington area. Local and national indie bands often play at the Black Cat (1811 14th Street N.W.) and the 9:30 Club (815 V Street, N.W.). Past performers include M.I.A., the Decemberists, Lupe Fiasco, Feist and even Justin Timberlake.

The nightlife

Welcome to college, where the weekends start on Thursday (sometimes earlier). There is always something happening on campus, whether it’s at a frat townhouse or at the numerous 18 and over lounges and bars close to campus thrown by student party promoters and the Greek-letter community. Café Japone (2032 P Street, N.W.), Hawk and Dove (329 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E.), K Street Lounge (1301 K Street, N.W.), Lotus Lounge (1420 K Street, N.W.) and Apex (1415 22nd Street, N.W.) are popular among students new to the area.

If going out isn’t your thing, most bookstores and cafés off campus are open late on weekends. Kramerbooks and Afterwords Café (1517 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) is popular among GW students and D.C. natives alike, and is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. On campus, the Hippodrome in the Marvin Center stays open until 2 a.m. on weekends for bowling, billiards and foosball.

Don’t be discouraged because you’re not 21 yet and that fake ID doesn’t get you in anywhere. There is an entire freshaman-friendly city worth exploring just a few steps from campus.

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