Washington, DC (on a budget)

Last weekend, I road tripped it out to DC to see a couple of dear friends. What a glorious time. And I didn’t have to rob the bank to make it happen, either.

Getting there:

Depending on how far you live, you will either be able to drive or you will have to fly. If you are in the latter camp, find the nearest large airport to you, and start watching sales. Deals between Washington, DC, and other major airports are common.

Where to stay:

If you want to stay in DC, check sites like priceline or hotwire for cheap hotel digs that are close to all the cool stuff. If you can’t find a deal that way, start checking the cities in Maryland and Virginia that are but a train trip away. A couple of locals recommend Silver Spring, Bethesda, or Rockville, in Maryland, and Fairfax, Vienna, Dunn Lorring, Tyson’s Corner, Alexandria, Arlington or West Falls Church in Virginia. All of these cities have metro stations. Some hotels will even offer a free shuttle from their front door to the stop.

What to do:

For the thrifty traveler, this is the best news you will hear: almost everything that is interesting to see and do in D.C. is free. That’s right. FREE. Some suggestions:

Tour the Capitol. You can get tickets yourself, or you can book a tour through your representative.

Most of the Smithsonian Museums are free. There are 19 museums and the National Zoo that are run by the Smithsonian Institute. A tip: go early! Get there when the venue opens, and there won’t be as many crowds.

The National Cathedral is gorgeous! This beautiful building is not free to visit; they suggest a contribution of $10 per adult and $5 per child. All of their worship services, however, are open to the public.

For some great shopping, check out Georgetown. All of you D.C. cupcake fans will have to try a taste of a Georgetown Cupcake. Bring something to entertain you while you wait in the line that is often blocks long!

If it’s a nice day, walk around and check out the monuments.

If you’re clever, take pictures of the appropriate currency with each monument.

In order to see the White House, you have to be on top of your game. Submit your request through your Member of Congress up to 6 months in advance to secure your ticket to see the inside of the White House.

For some fresh eats and a great place to wander around, go to Eastern Market. On the weekends, there is a farmer’s market as well as a flea market, not to mention all sorts of cute shops!

The bottom line:

There is a lot to see and do in Washington, DC. It doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg! Have a great time planning your next adventure!

Ush-ing

Good news, friends! My car is healthy and well and I am now in the Windy City. I love this place. It remains my favorite, of the cities I’ve seen. This could be subject to more traveling and more sight-seeing of other cities in our fair union. But, this is the way it is now. Chicago is the best.

Last night, I arrived in time to consume a yummy, yummy dinner made by my friend Cara (salmon, pesto pasta, garlic bread…yum!) and then we headed downtown.

I’m about to let you in on a little secret for enjoying shows (even expensive shows!) on the cheap (free!). Here it is. Are you ready? Wait for it…..wait for it….  If you volunteer to usher, the theatre/orchestra/show will often give you a free seat. Free. Straight up.

SO, in exchange for smiling and handing out programs for a half an hour before the show and directing traffic for intermission (“bathroom is down in the lobby, on the left.” “Turn right, and you can’t miss the bar.” Etc), you get to see the show/concert. It’s a great deal!

Last night, we headed to The Goodman to see A Christmas Carol. We ushed. We got seats. We enjoyed a great performance of a timeless classic. No photos to prove it, but we did have a photo shoot on the platform while we were waiting to catch the el home. The girls!

All together now:

With many thanks and photo credits to the fine Chicagoan who offered to take a picture so that all of us could be in it. Good people here. Good people.

If you’re interested in being an usher, it’s as simple as calling your favorite theatre or symphony hall and asking if they are looking for volunteer ushers. If they are, get your name on the list for a show that you want to see. They’ll tell you what to wear, give you the time you need to show up, and orient you once you arrive so that you know what you’re doing. Easy as that!

Enjoy the show!