When I’m traveling, I think it’s so fun to hear locals describe what they love about where they live–their description offers a better, more personal insight than the best travel book ever could. Since we can’t gallivant the world interviewing people from far flung places (unfortunately), they are going to come to us. Today begins the series “I Love Where I Live,” an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the places we call home.
Our first post is from Lindsey Frederick. I had the privilege of living with Lindsey for 2 years in Winona Lake, IN, while we both worked for the same non-profit. I so loved being Lindsey’s roommate–we had such great fun!
Since our days in Indiana, Lindsey moved to the Washington, DC area. She is a marketing coordinator at a DC-based international nonprofit, where she helps tell stories of redemption and transformation. She is also a regular contributor to New Identity Magazine and eHow.com, where she writes about life, art, faith, and career. Her articles have also been featured in Corporette.com, FamousDC, Christian Communicator, Winery Weddings, and many others.
When Rachel asked me to share why I love my city with Balance and Blueberries, I was immediately excited. And then completely overwhelmed. There are so many fun things to do in the DC metro area, I hardly know what to highlight. So I’ll stick with my staples: art, food, shopping, coffee, and dancing.
When I visit a city, I’m more interested local dives and hotspots, than site seeing. But there are a few sites you shouldn’t miss. If you’re short on time, but you want to see it all, you must visit the Lincoln Memorial. After you’ve paid your respects to Honest Abe, linger on the steps to take in the sweeping view of the National Mall in all its glory from the Reflecting Pool, to the Washington Monument, to the Capitol. If you have more than a few hours, you can stroll to the nearby Korean and Vietnam Memorials, and soak your feet in the WWII Memorial fountain pool.
If you have all day, head to the Sculpture Garden at the opposite end of the Mall on Constitution Avenue and 9th. This park makes for a fun and quirky little side venture, with just enough modern art to appreciate, but not make your head spin with sheer absurdity. The foundation in the center of the garden is another favorite cooling spot in the summer heat.
A few block beyond the Capitol in the Southeast quadrant is Eastern Market. This flea market is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. Metro accessible (orange line), and just across the street from quaint bakeries and coffee shops, and a dusty old used bookstore, you can purchase fresh meats, cheeses, flowers, and art from local vendors. In my opinion, there’s nothing not to love about this place.
If you find yourself in the Eastern Market area around dinnertime, check out Harold Black Speakeasy. This snug and dimly-lit prohibition-era lounge is accessed through an unmarked door and secret sliding wall.The craft cocktails and snacks are tasty, but over-priced even for DC. Still, it’s fun experience and truly feels like you’re part of a secret.
I love the variety of ethnic food in the area—Indian, Thai, Lebanese, you name it! But my go-to will always be the humble taco. I frequent a little hole in the wall called Taco Bamba in Falls Church, Virginia, just 15 minutes outside DC. You can get a tame Americanized taco, or if your tastebuds are adventurous, try more traditional fillers like cow stomach, intestine, and tongue—mm mmm! I love the tasty fish taco called the Black Pearl.
For something a little more upscale and off the beaten path, try The Wine Kitchen in Old Town Leesburg, Virginia. Each wine comes with a cute, humorous description card and the food is so good you’ll lose track of everything but what’s happening inside your mouth. True story.
When it’s time for a coffee break, I highly recommend Misha’s in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. It’s just a few blocks from the Metro (yellow line), on the corner of King and Patrick Streets. Their slogan is “The best coffee you’ll ever have,” and they aren’t messing around. They roast their beans in small batches daily and make the smoothest latte I’ve ever tasted. Ever.
While in Alexandria, head a few blocks down the cobblestone streets, past dozens of boutique stores and quaint restaurants, to the Waterfront Park and channel your inner-Otis Redding by sitting on the dock of the bay. It’s a great way to refresh, and if you’re lucky, one of the street performers might even chime a little Otis on his water glasses.
I’m not much for the club scene, but I do love me some salsa dancing! It’s the best of the social scene, without the sketchy vibe. Sure, there are drunken frat boys on the prowl, but they’re easy enough to spot—and avoid. For the most part, I find the primary motivation of the dance community is the pure love of dance—and if you happen to make a connection on the dance floor, well that’s just icing on the cake. My favorite places include the Salsa Room on Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia, on Fridays and Saturdays, and Lucky Strike in DC’s Chinatown on Sundays. If you’re a little shy on the dance floor, or your salsa-basic is rusty, there’s always a beginner and/or intermediate lesson before social dancing.
So those are just a few of the things I love about my city. If you make it to the DC area, I hope you fall in love with them too.
Want to share the amazingness that is where you live? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your insider tips, tricks, and recommendations and you could be featured, too!