The benefit or the curse of living in the Washington, DC area — and the jury is still out on that call — is that the national and international news for everyone else is our local news. Currently we can’t escape the theatrics of yet another impending government shutdown. Here’s to hoping that the immature statesmen on both sides of the aisle quit with the posturing already and come together for the good of the nation.
Who knows when the government will approve a budget? It looks like we have at least one more reprieve through yet another in a long string of Continuing Resolutions. Let’s hope for the best. However, if the musical chairs ends with a shutdown, I can at least offer a few suggestions to visitors who find themselves inconvenienced.
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First, dear tourists please understand that you will be used as pawns. Elected officials of both stripes will want to see your disappointed faces on camera so they can score cheap political points at your expense. All of your beloved monuments and Smithsonian museums supported by your taxpayer dollars will be closed, without a doubt. You’ve invested a lot of your personal time and money to get here. Don’t let a shutdown spoil your fun. The ultimate revenge is having a better time than you originally anticipated even before this silliness began.
Go to a Museum.
Wait, didn’t I just mention that they’ll shut the Smithsonian for the duration? True enough I suppose, but the Smithsonian isn’t the only game in town anymore. The International Spy Museum, the National Geographic Museum and the Newseum come to mind. I’m sure there must be several others. Some of these museums charge admission fees but that’s also true for just about any other city too. You might learn something interesting even if you don’t get to see the Hope Diamond or the visit the pandas (they’re usually asleep anyway).
Take a Cruise.
My wife won a Potomac River cruise in a charity auction last year. I’ve lived in the immediate area for decades but I’d never taken one of these excursions before. I was amazed at the chance to see familiar landmarks from a new perspective as the boat completed its two-hour circuit. There are several companies that provide these cruises so check out Google and select the one that meets your needs. They range all the way from utilitarian water taxi services to fancy dinner/dancing packages.
You probably won’t have a car because you’ve heard it’s a hassle to drive in DC, right? Well, consider taking a boat from Georgetown to Old Town Alexandria, a place not generally considered easily-accessible by public transportation, and spend a couple of hours strolling or shopping before returning on a later boat. That could easily fill a good chunk of the day with something pleasant and enjoyable.
Ride a Bike.
The area is filled with recreational bicycling opportunities but where can you find a bike? Capital Bikeshare offers more than a thousand bicycles spread over a hundred locations in the District and across the river in Arlington, VA. They allow 24-hour rentals and all you need to do is swipe a credit card at any one of their kiosks. The opportunities are endless: along the National Mall and down to Hains Point at the tip of East Potomac Park; or over to Rock Creek Park; or across the river to the Mount Vernon Trail. You could ride for days and still not explore the entire area.
Go See the Nationals.
Ryan Zimmerman from a game I attended on May 24, 2009
Assuming this thing drags-out until baseball season, and that seems likely, go see the Nationals play live. Good seats are easy to find, and if it’s a lackluster game then views from Nationals Park will still be worth the price of admission. You might be lucky enough to witness a statistical anomaly. You can even console yourself at the bar at the Red Porch if things get truly bad. Honestly, after so many years without a team, I’m thrilled to see them regardless of their record.
Witness Some Oddities.
This blog is usually about geographic oddities. If you share an interest in such things then go ahead and read my guest article on DC oddities at Google Sightseeing, or the companion article here on the Twelve Mile Circle. I won’t feel bad if they don’t appeal to you. I know it’s a niche interest.
Have a wonderful visit and thank you for coming in spite of the foolishness.
Do any of the regular readers from the DC area have other suggestions to add?