DC is cool – plain and simple. It’s a popular destination with entertainment, arts, clubs, and unique neighborhoods everyone wants to live in, or at the very least be seen in on a Friday night. The wealth and diversity of options seems to grow each year. I lived in the city for eight years before leaving the city briefly in 2013 to pursue a career in NYC, and returned a year later to fall in love with DC and its vibrancy all over again.
I love the DC standards (the National Mall, U and 14th Streets, taking in a performance at The Kennedy Center, strolling through Rock Creek Park, etc.). I wanted to share with you my list of favorite places and activities in a city that may not be as well-known. Here they are:
Monroe Street Market:
This is one of my new top spots. Located next to Catholic University off the Brookland-CUA Metro, this up-and-coming development features a unique twist: it’s anchored by the Arts Walk, a string of over two dozen individual artist studios including painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, custom leather goods, and vintage shops, all of which are local.
The studio spaces are affordable to artists, and a rolling application process allows for new vendors to set up shop easily. Artists can apply at http://www.culturaldc.org/artist-services/artist-studios/.
There are also regular events – like live music, a Farmer’s Market, and an Artist Open House – held throughout each week. The neighborhood also offers numerous dining options, too. I love buying local, so this is new to my “must-go” list.
Monroe Street Market
625 Monroe St NE
Washington, DC 20017
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens:
This is the estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, who bought Hillwood in 1955, and opened her home as a museum to inspire and educate to the public in 1977. It boasts gorgeous Russian and French art and artifacts; a to-die-for collection of Faberge Eggs; and my favorite: beautiful landscaped gardens and natural woodlands that feel secluded – a slice of tranquility seemingly far removed from the hustle-and-bustle of DC.
Visit on a Sunday and make a reservation for the afternoon tea in advance – you won’t be disappointed! Book your afternoon tea at www.hillwoodmuseum.org/your-visit/hillwood-cafe.
Admission to the museum is $18 per adult – I realize that we have access to some of the greatest pieces of art and collections of artifacts for free at other locations around town – but it’s worth the fee.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
4155 Linnean Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20008
This iconic entertainment venue located in the heart of the city has hosted every major comedian – from Dave Chappelle to Ellen DeGeneres – since opening in 1992; after descending the stairs off of Connecticut Ave, you’ll notice posters and autographed pictures decorating the walls of the lobby.
The main room sits 285 people, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house (the smaller Lounge room seats 60). A full bar and menu allows you to enjoy dinner and drinks, in addition to laughter.
DC Improv is more than just a spot to catch known and rising comedians telling jokes – it also offers Open Mic Nights, Happy Hour Trivia, and its Comedy School, where attendees can learn how to write sketches, or craft a 5-minute stand-up routine, or delve into the art of improvisational comedy.
It’s the improv class I took recently that made me fall in love with DC Improv; these classes are perfect no matter what field you’re in because the beauty of improv is that almost anyone can be funny – even your boring co-workers who decorates their cubicle with cat pictures!
Visit www.dcimprov.com for details on all of its events and offerings.
1140 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Insight Meditation Community of Washington:
Meditation, mindfulness, and finding balance in life are important to me, and as we know living and working in DC requires an outlet to relax. The Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW) — a spiritual community that teaches and practices Insight (Vipassana) meditation in the Washington, DC metro area – serves that need.
The number of programs, workshops, classes and retreats are bountiful, and many of them are free and open to the public. I suggest checking out the Wednesday night meditation classes at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation (RRUUC) in Bethesda, MD.
Led by IMCW founder and senior teacher Tara Brach, each week’s 90-minute-long meditation features a new theme about life, interacting with others, and loving yourself, and is a combination of guided meditation and dharma talk. This class will leave you feeling spiritually calm and ready to conquer the world.
Tara is well-respected in the meditation community, and her classes are very popular – 250-300 people attend each week, so arrive early to secure your seat. Admission is free (a $10-$15 donation is encouraged). Unfortunately the RRUUC is not Metro-accessible, so plan ahead (bus, taxi, Zip Car, Uber, etc.)
Insight Meditation Community of Washington