It’s time for another local’s Friday feature! This time, about the incredible Washington, D.C. in the United States. Enjoy!
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
My name is Stephanie, and I live just outside of Washington, DC, the capital of the United States. I am a learning and professional development consultant as well as a travel writer, and my husband and I started our website: Road Unraveled to educate people on why it’s important to take their vacation time – and help people decide how to use it!
I grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts area and went to college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I moved to DC in February 2006. I graduated from college with a degree in political science, and DC is the place to be if you want to pursue a career in politics! Even though I had a plan to work on Capitol Hill, I accepted a job in professional development, and I never ended up working for or with the government — but I was thrilled DC had become my new hometown!
2. What do you love most about your hometown?
Washington, DC is one of the most lively, exciting cities in the world. It’s a perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about the United States from a historical or cultural perspective, and it’s also one of the most international cities in the country: in fact, DC houses more than 150 embassies! Best of all, many of the most popular tourist attractions are free to everyone, including tourists. You could spend weeks exploring the Smithsonian museums, walking around the monuments, and checking out famous points of interest from movies or TV shows and not spend any money at all!
3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Washington, D.C.?
I get a little frustrated when visitors expect DC locals to talk openly about politics. Even though most people in DC are very politically aware, not everyone wants to get into a debate about our laws, leadership, or elections! Otherwise, DC really welcomes tourists, and we love it when people are excited to experience our city. In fact, many locals enjoy being tourists in our own city on the weekends — myself included!
4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in DC?
If you are visiting DC, plan a whole day to walk along the National Mall to see some of the most famous monuments and memorials in the country. My favorite is the Washington Monument, but the Jefferson Memorial and the Korean War Memorial shouldn’t be missed. A walk down Embassy Row is a lot of fun when the weather is nice, and if you plan to do some shopping, you can’t miss Georgetown, where there are dozens of well-known shops and cute boutiques. If you want to get off the beaten path, visit the Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum. They were once part of the Capitol Building, but they were removed during renovations in 1866 and relocated to a gorgeous part of the city. The Iwo Jima Memorial is also a great spot for some nice city views, and it’s usually a bit less crowded since it is in Arlington, Virginia — just over the DC border.
5. What foods must visitors eat when in your hometown?
Don’t leave DC without a stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl for a half smoke! Politicians and celebrities — as well as hungry locals and tourists — have been going to Ben’s for a half smoke with chili for almost 100 years. It’s best described as a spicy hot dog, not quite a sausage, but it’s the perfect comfort food. Founding Farmers is a higher-end restaurant that serves meals made from locally sourced ingredients and makes the best fried chicken and waffles in town. Pizza Paradiso is a popular favorite with a few locations around town if you want a classic pizza, and Baked and Wired in Georgetown serves some of the best cupcakes! If you’re in town for brunch, Ted’s Bulletin has a great variety of breakfast items (including homemade pop tarts!).
6. What’s your favourite word in your local language? Why? What does it mean?
Although I don’t use it often, cised is a very local word that means excited. I love that Washington, DC has its own word for feeling joy!
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Washington, D.C.?
Washington, DC is a terrific place for someone who is new to the USA! In fact, a lot of people move here from overseas because it is such an international city. There are tons of social groups and communities, so making friends doesn’t have to be very difficult here. Be prepared for the expense, though: DC is an expensive city, and everything from housing to food to transportation may cost more than it did in your previous hometown. The traffic is also pretty terrible, especially when it rains or snows, so you’ll need to be patient when you travel through the city.
8. If you could describe your hometown in just one sentence, what would you say?
DC mixes honored history with youthful vibrancy to create a city that takes chances, works hard, and plays harder.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about your D.C.’s culture, what should that be?
DC attracts people who are passionate about their careers, their lives, and making a difference. The culture reflects how driven we are, and we take our work seriously. DC also has a fun side, though; even though the city has a deserved reputation for how political it can be, at the end of the day DC is about doing the best we can to make the city, the country, and the world a better place.
10. Do you have any interesting traditions that you’d like to tell us about?
My favorite celebration is the Around the World Embassy Tour! Every year, many of the embassies in DC open their doors to the public so locals and visitors can learn more about their countries. They often have performances, food and drink tastings, and art displays, so you can go around the world in a single weekend. I also love the cherry blossom festival each spring, when all of the trees around the city are in full bloom. DC is an amazing city: there’s always something fun happening!
Thanks Stephanie – we’ve loved getting to know you and Washington, D.C. better!
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