13 Top Non-Touristy Places to Visit in D.C.

13 Top Non-Touristy Places to Visit in D.C.

Here are some of the best kept secrets of D.C. to spice up your next getaway to the nation's capitol.

D.C. is known for being a tourist central place, but there are many places besides the usual touristy destinations that are often overlooked. Having lived in D.C. this summer for an internship, I've accumulated a pretty thorough list of worthwhile places to visit. Some destinations, I have personally been to while others, I have only heard of in first-hand accounts, but would love to visit someday. Whether you plan on living or visiting D.C. at some point, this list can help you plan an amazing experience.

1. Watch Outdoor Movies.

There are many outdoor movie screenings at D.C. during the summer: Screen on the Green near the Capitol, National Harbor movies every Sunday night, Bethesda screenings, and so forth. Just be sure not to get sidetracked by the amazing scenery nearby!

2. Stroll to the National Harbor.

A great little town by the Potomac river, this place is full of dining options, a Ferris wheel and outdoor movie screenings every Sunday night. Since it is a bay, there is also a small patch of sand and rocks that you can take a walk along...making for a perfect romantic stroll.

3. Go to a Nationals Game.

Going to a National's Game is a must if you want to experience a piece of the D.C. life; baseball is THE WAY of D.C. life. Even if you're not particularly into watching the sport itself, the whole experience of being in the stadium among thousands of people, catching wafts of popcorn and booze and having upbeat music pound in your ears is an incredibly energizing experience. Warning though: the subway will be VERY crowded before and after the game, so be careful and just channel your inner sardine in a can form -- you'll survive.

5. Visit the Yards Park.

6. Listen to Jazz in the Sculpture Garden

7. Visit Georgetown

8. Have fun paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking at Potomac River

The things you can do on water here is endless. If you're looking for a more movement in your trip, the Potomac River is for you. Fletcher's Cove has a pretty good deal for canoeing and kayaking, and I believe you can fish there as well.

9. Go to the Smithsonian Museum After Hour Parties.

Smithsonian museums close at 5:30 p.m. But did you know that they come back to life again at night? In fact, a lot of these museums hold after hour parties full of cocktail, music, etc. Be sure to be on the lookout for one during your stay here.

10. Visit the Kennedy Center for Live Music.

The Kennedy Center hosts a lot of live music, including many free events. I have heard that with music or not, the view from the balcony is incredible, especially that of sunsets.

11. Explore Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington Cemetery is an often overlooked tourist destination because it's not located in the central touristy area. The visit is a sobering one, one that forces you to really appreciate the soldiers today and of the past, and their sacrifices. The seemingly endless rows and rows of tombs are breathtaking, making you wonder about each and every person's life. If you stop by here, make sure to make a stop at JFK's final resting place and see the guard change at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

12. Visit Capitol Hill Bookstore

If you're a bookworm, the Capitol Hill Bookstore is going to be your paradise. It is a used bookstore, which means everything has marked down prices. The WIDE collection of books of various genres-- nonfiction, novels, poetry-- makes it book heaven. So many amazing works all stocked together in one.

13. Go to Sunday Flea Market at Eastern Market.

Right by the Capitol Bookstore (Eastern Market Metro Stop on Gray line), the Eastern Market Flea Market takes place every Sunday. It has a great selection of paintings, photography, jewelry, bags, clothing, old Times magazines, fresh fruits, vegetables and a plethora of unique little finds. This destination is very popular among locals here and not always known to the tourists.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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10 Signs You Know You're From Michigan

You may know weird lingo, but you are proud to be a Michigander.

In a few weeks when I fly back to the East Coast from Detroit, I know I will have to adjust back to life in New England. For the last month I stayed in Michigan with my family over the holiday break, and other than constantly mixing up "soda" and "pop," I was able to fall back into my habitual ways.

However, I will never fail to express my Michigander pride to my Mainer friends.

1. We show where we're from with our hands

Oh, you're from Detroit? I'm from Lansing! *holds up hand and points*

2. You know someone who hates foreign cars

Detroit is known as the Car Capital of the World, and odds are that you know someone who sneers every time they see a foreign car. I know I do!

3. You know what a Michigan Left Turn is

This is something I have only seen in Michigan! It's hard to explain, but we essentially turn around using U-turns instead of at an intersection. My hometown has several of these and I often am confused with how to turn around in other states.

4. Meijer

Founded in Michigan, Meijer is a wonderful store for all of one's shopping needs. There are a little over 200 locations, and over half of them are in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. A few other locations are scattered across the Midwest, but it is concentrated in Michigan. I'd say Meijer is comparable to New England's Hannaford market.

5. We know how to say (and spell) Mackinac

Mackinac is NOT pronounced "Mack-in-ACK." It is "Mack-in-AW."

6. You know what a Troll, Yooper, and Fudgie is

Trolls live in the Lower Peninsula below the Mackinac Bridge. Yoopers live in the Upper Peninsula or the "UP." Fudgies are pretty much everyone else because Michiganders love their fudge.

7. We have two seasons

The two seasons are winter and construction season. Our "spring flowers" are orange construction cones! Not to mention that winter is great because the snow fills up the many potholes infecting the roads!

8. Your sports affiliation

The rivalry between Michigan State and University of Michigan football is real. But one thing is for sure: both teams support each other when up against Ohio.

9. You love Superman ice cream

It's the best tasting ice cream, and originated in Michigan. It's traditionally blue, red, and yellow. I have yet to see it offered in New England.

10. Weird weather

The Great Lakes really funk with the weather. It can either bump weather away from the state, or trap it inside. We've had mornings where it snows, and by the evening it's all gone!

One thing is for sure, and it's that we are proud Michiganders.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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13 Tips To Survive Your Next NYC Trip Like A Local

This will help you be more prepared for your big trip!

I got to go to New York City for the first time a few days ago with a group of my friends and I had an awesome time. Even though I made great memories that I’ll keep forever, by the end of the trip I had learned some things that would definitely have been useful before I got to NYC. Here’s my tips for your vacation to the Big Apple:

1. Pace yourself.

New York City is huge and what may seem like a few blocks on a map can end up being a long walk. Even if you decide that you don’t mind a longer walk, make sure you pace yourself. Walking too much the first day in the city can make you sore for the rest of your trip, which isn’t fun.

2. Get an unlimited Metro card.

If you’re only in the city for a few days and can calculate exactly how many times you’ll ride the subway/buses and how much that costs, then you can put money on a normal Metro card.

But for peace of mind and increased flexibility, an unlimited seven-day metro card is perfect. You can hop on and off the subway and buses whenever you need to and won’t have to worry about your money running out.

3. Plan your trip before you get there.

My friends and I had an idea of the sites we wanted to see but didn’t really figure out exactly what we wanted to do and when until we were riding the subway into Times Square. Our trip still worked out- we saw everything close to us the first day and then saw what we missed from there for the rest of the trip. But it would’ve helped if we’d had a solid plan earlier.

4. Bring a reusable water bottle.

Walking a lot means you’ll need to be hydrated, but bottled water is expensive in the city, so bring your own and refill at water fountains (the New York Public Library and the United Nations are both free to go into and have clean ones) or ask for a cup of water if a restaurant allows that (Chipotle does) and refill with that.

5. Walk when the New Yorkers walk.

When crossing the street, there will be a moment when the little red hand is still up, but people start walking. That’s because the people who live and work in NYC know that the little walking figure is coming since the light is red, so they get a head start at crossing the street. Don’t bother waiting for the little walking person, or you’ll hold up the people behind you. Just walk.

6. Avoid carrying a bag.

Even sites that seem less major, such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, have bag checks whenever you go in, so try to keep the bare necessities in your pockets. If you absolutely need to carry a bag, try to make it a small one and be prepared to open it whenever asked.

7. Clean bathrooms are rare.

The random deli we ate in had a bathroom, but it was disgusting. In contrast, Chipotle had a rather clean bathroom. The best restroom I found, though, was at the New York Public Library. Attractions, even free ones, will most likely have the cleanest bathrooms. After that, trust a chain restaurant first. Remember that a dirty bathroom won’t kill you though.

8. Always carry hand sanitizer.

After using the subway, touching souvenirs, and taking selfies, you’ll want to use hand sanitizer before eating, especially since the restaurant you’re in might not have a clean bathroom to wash your hands in, as mentioned above. Always carry hand sanitizer with you for those moments and for any other gross, unplanned things that might happen.

9. Time and money are related.

You might save money by staying in New Jersey, but you might also spend half an hour getting into and out of the city every day. A tour of the UN might be awesome, but it also might take more time and money then exploring by yourself. Decide how much time and how much money you want to spend on attractions and accommodations because often these things are related.

10. A lot of attractions are free.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the New York Public Library, the 9/11 Memorial, Fearless Girl/Charging Bull, the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, the United Nations, Rockefeller Center, Alexander Hamilton’s Uptown Estate, Times Square, the Staten Island Ferry, and Central Park are all free. Some of the museums have suggested donations, but you can always pay less depending on your budget. Google other free attractions for the season you’re going and you can find some great, cheap gems.

11. Bring a phone charger.

Google maps will be your best friend while getting around the city, but if you’re in the city for a long time, you’ll want to have a charger handy. A small portable charger that can fit in your pocket or bag is a great way to make sure you don’t get stranded anywhere.

12. It's ok to talk to strangers . . . sometimes.

You don’t need to talk to every person you see, but we did end up having a great conversation with an older gentleman when we asked if we were on the right bus. We spent the rest of the ride talking to him about everything from his recent operation to have a pacemaker put into his passion for writing poetry. His name was Frank, and I’ll always remember that brief bus friendship that made the end of our long day brighter.

13. Keep calm and enjoy yourself.

With all the hustle and bustle of NYC and knowing that your time is limited, it’s easy to just jump from place to place in a crazed desire to see as much as possible. However, you’ll enjoy your trip more if you walk a little slower, and calmly take in everything around you instead of snapping a picture and rushing on.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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