CultureTravel

What do Scandal, House of Cards, and Bones all have in common? Aside from them making for an absolutely ideal television binge, they all take place in your next daytrip destination: Washington, D.C. This powerful city has been my home for the past four years and I’ve learned that it has much more to offer than architecturally impressive government buildings. Washington, D.C. is teeming with art galleries, farmers markets, and funky neighborhoods waiting to be explored.  Welcome to the Nation’s Capital!

Morning

Good Morning! If you’re like me, you wake up ready to eat, so head over to Ted’s Bulletin in southeast D.C. for breakfast. Known for their homemade pop tarts, this timeless diner-style restaurant serves breakfast all day. I recommended The Big Mark Breakfast comprised of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast, and a pop tart… because why not treat yourself?

After your delicious breakfast, walk just a few blocks and explore Eastern Market, D.C.’s original food and art market. There’s no better way to begin a day in the city than pleasing all your senses by tasting fresh food samples, appreciating stunning artwork and antique trinkets, and smelling the fragrant homemade candles and incense. The market has such a magnetic energy about it that can put even the grumpiest person in a bright mood.

Afternoon

By this time hunger is likely creeping up again which means it is time to grab lunch at Founding Farmers. Beyond satisfying its hungry customers, this friendly hotspot works to support regional farmers by serving sustainably-farmed and locally-grown food. Try their Farmers Slaw Reuben or Creamy Vegetable Bacon Bucatini, both dishes are like nothing I’ve ever tasted and simply delicious.

This afternoon, be a proud tourist by a visiting a few of D.C.’s most famous sites. Because you have just one day in the city, I would pick just two or three you are most interested in. My favorite spots in the city are The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and The National Museum of the American Indian. Take your time at each of your destinations, relishing in its immense history and appreciating its impressive construction. After all, you’re in the heart of America.

Evening

After a busy day in Washington, D.C., begin to wind down with dinner at one of the city’s beloved restaurants. For those looking for a place with a story, try Ben’s Chili Bowl or its neighboring upscale restaurant, Ben’s Next Door in the U Street Corridor. Only differing in their atmospheres, Bens’ celebrates the historically African American presence in D.C., as it’s survived through 1960s race riots and gentrification. The energetic restaurants serve D.C. signatures, like half-smoke chili dogs, and are especially lively on the weekends.

For those looking to try new cuisine, go to Das, and Ethiopian restaurant in the Georgetown neighborhood. Romantically lit with candles on each table, Das serves traditional Ethiopian cuisine consisting of the fluffiest injera (a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture) and a variety of spicy meats and vegetables. I usually get their combination plate, which has injeria with flavor-packed chicken, beef, greens, potatoes, chickpeas, and egg. Don’t forget to order their chocolate cake; something about it is inexplicably magical.

If you still have some energy left, head over to the Dupont Circle neighborhood to people watch at its fountain or browse the series of quaint boutiques and stores. The picturesque area is usually quite relaxing with street performers or live-music at nighttime. Be sure to stop by Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café. Open nearly all hours of the day, this part bookstore, part café is frequented by passionate writers and mysterious-looking intellectuals. If we are being honest, I’ve only ever been here for dessert, but let me tell you, their Rustic Apple Tarts are the only way to end a day in Washington, D.C.

Time-Permitting

If you have time, honor our troops in Arlington National Cemetery, shop in Georgetown, or catch a free performance at The Kennedy Center.

*Hey day-trippers, check out itineraries for Philadelphia and Savannah!

Image: Aysia Woods

Culture

Everything’s quiet. No outside noise, no blabbing people. The only sound is the quiet whisper of pages turning, and the occasional low voice. Ahh, bookstores… a place for every self-proclaimed literary nerd to find sanctuary. Books will always be a source of comfort, and with most people still avidly reading books, there is no threat to the literary society going extinct. So what’s happening to the bookstores?

Over the past few years, popular chains such as Borders (now bankrupt) and Barnes and Noble have been suffering heavy losses. What’s causing this alarming downward trend? Simple: the Internet. The Internet, in all its wonderfully convenient glory, is a staple in the lives of almost every person on the planet. However, with the ability to have nearly all the information, shopping, and entertainment one could ever want at the click of the button, people have begun to overlook the physical world for the digital world, and nowhere is that more apparent than bookstores.

With plenty of shopping sites (Amazon being the most notable) available for people to purchase their books on, as well as eReaders and Kindles for people to read said books on, the need for an actual bookstore with actual print books is slowly decreasing, and while some may consider this a good thing, it also has a pretty severe downside.

The first reason, which is also very practical, is that a bookstore provides income for many people. Places like Barnes and Noble, or even the local neighborhood store, provide jobs for people in the community.

Secondly, bookstores allow book nerds (myself included) to meet other like minded literary junkies. Additionally, bookstores broaden the number of books that can quickly be obtained (let’s be honest – books aren’t cheap, and having to pay shipping, or even worse, wait several weeks for new books to arrive, is much worse than just traipsing down to the store).

Lastly, bookstores create a haven for people to simply enjoy being around literature. For myself and others, just being around books provides a calming influence, and being surrounded by as many as a bookstore provides is one of the best feelings in the world. The simple presence of all that literary magic is enough to warrant a trip to the bookstore. It’s a feeling unavailable on the Internet, and one that should be preserved forever. Booklovers, literary geeks, and anyone who loves a good read, unite. Bring back the bookstores!