Washington, D.C. A town steeped in history, tradition, and corruption (Frank Underwood approves). I hadn't been to the District since I was a kid, yet I still found myself gravitating towards the same attractions. If you're an American you have to make the trip at least once, just don't do it in August like I did (hint: it's humid). Here are some of the Highs and Lows from the trip:
High: As long as you're not driving your own car, transportation around downtown D.C. is relatively easy. An all-day Metro card is about $13, and the train system is incredibly efficient. If you're in between stops there are plenty of Uber and Lyft drivers around.
Low: Politicians get around in a much more announced, and slightly annoying style. 10-15 vehicle motorcades come by frequently, and you can hear the sirens coming from a mile away. I'm all for the safety of our leaders, but as a visitor the noise gets old fast.
High: History is apparently free. The National Mall and the adjoining Smithsonian Museum exhibits are free to the public. Honest confession, I didn't know that. You could easily spend multiple days in this area enjoying the museums. I went to the National Museum of National History and the National Museum of American History, both excellent. I've heard the Newseum is fantastic as well.
Low: Two negative factors effect your museum experience. 1. You spend a good amount of time outside getting from building to building, so if you visit in the summer you'll be sweaty. 2. Crowds. Lots of crowds. Specifically at the Lincoln Memorial, which is too bad because it's a very harrowing location. Still worth the visit, but be forewarned.
High: D.C. has an eclectic nightlife mix that caters to any interests. Me? I love food and baseball. So I chose to check out one of my favorite chef's restaurants (José Andrés' Jaleo), and then took the Metro down to National's Park to watch a game. Everything is high-quality at both establishments and you leave feeling very satisfied.
Low: With high quality comes a high pricetag. D.C. is expensive, almost surprisingly so. Jaleo is a tapas restaurant, but don't expect to leave with a tab under $150 (and that's the cheapest of Andrés' D.C. restaurants). Hotels downtown are expensive, so if you're visiting I'd advise staying in a suburb near a Metro stop. Even the street vendors selling water are overpriced, but with the heat you'll pay just about anything. I suppose the free museums balance out the cash you pay for the rest of your trip.
D.C. ended up being one of my favorite spots of my cross-country trip. I love America and I love the homage Washington pays to our history. No matter how old you are it's never too late to make your pilgrimage to our Nation's Capitol.