8 Things to Love and Hate about Washington, D.C.

It's official. Instead of heading left, I'm heading right. While I'm sad to leave family and new friends behind in D.C., I'm really excited to be moving closer to friends and loved ones up here in New York. My year in D.C. was a really great experience. I grew to appreciate the city as more than just a tourist wandering by the landmarks dotting our nation's capital. Below is a quick run down of the things I loved and hated about life in the District.

The People

The interns, the foreigners, the politicians, the lobbyists, the non-profit hippies, and the preppy college students...they're all drawn to D.C. After a while, you start to wonder if you'll ever really connect with anyone who was born and raised in D.C. or has lived there long-term. I only met a handful of them. Over time, though, I grew to appreciate the eclectic mix of people D.C. draws, no matter how long they stay or where they're from.

The Streets

D.C. is really good at maintaining clean, green streets. I've also noticed the warmer climate encourages botanical creativity. The variety of shapes and colors of District houses - from Victorian, to federal, to modern - is wonderful. Although modern, sterile apartment buildings seem to be popping up left and right, each neighborhood maintains its own unique character. There's a certain charm and feel about this city that gives it great distinction above other cities in America.

Reagan National Airport

Easily accessible by Metro, taxi, or car, this is one of the easiest domestic airports I've traveled through in the nation. Even without TSA Pre-check, I'm generally able to navigate through security in 10 minutes or less. They've recently upgraded their shops, too. Unless there are weather delays (watch out for summer afternoon thunderstorms), there always seems to be a seat available in the waiting areas. Flight deals vary by season, and I've flown to New York City for as cheap as $150 round-trip.

The (Free) Museums

Yes, everything the guidebooks say about visiting the Smithsonian museums and the zoo in D.C. is true - they're free and they're pretty great. You can pay to go to some of the other museums and art galleries, but in my opinion, there is more than enough to see and enjoy for free. From my tour of the Capitol building, to my runs through the zoo, and my periodic visits to wander the halls of the National Gallery, I will always treasure the times I spent sightseeing on weekends.

The Metro

As convenient as it is, Metro service is pretty unreliable on weekends. There always seem to be alerts for track work. The Metro has some of the longest escalators I've ever seen, and the escalators are often broken or turned off. I was expecting more from the rail service in this city, and luckily, the bus service more than made up for any disappointment with the rail.


D.C. is very much a city in transition. Like with any big city with neighborhoods undergoing change, people can be on edge as big box stores begin to move in and rents are raised. Ask any cab driver how long they've lived in the city and how much they've seen it change, and you'll get an earful. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and it's apparent that it used to be a much more dangerous place to live. It's also a city full of people who are in transition. Many are there on contracts for fixed durations, so it's a good thing to know before deciding to set down roots.

Dulles International Airport

Dulles is so far from the city, you must always remember to budget the cost of the SuperShuttle and enough time to get there into your plans. There are plans to fix this, however, with the opening of the Metro's Silver Line sometime in late July.

The Gingko

Gingko trees are lush and green in the summer, followed by a beautiful, bright yellow in the fall. It's a trap, though, so consider yourself warned. While you're busy admiring these tall trees and you have the misfortune of stepping on one of their round seed pods, you'll soon regret it. Your shoe will smell like a combo of vomit & dog poo, a smell that will linger with you for the rest of the day. The city is aware of the issue and tries to keep the sidewalks clean, but I say it's time they figure out a better way of dealing with these trees.

For more great tips on what to do on your visit to Washington, D.C., check out the AFAR Guide to Washington. Next up... more of my travels in New England and what I'll be working on in New York.