With all the GAC has to offer, one of the best opportunities it provides is the chance to explore the nation's capital.
The conference in Washington, D.C. each year is as good a time as any to take advantage of all that the Metro area has to offer. The D.C. area alone offers a magnitude of museums, historical landmarks, and political monuments. However, the area has much more to offer beyond the well-known tourist attractions.
The beauty of the capital district, which offers fine examples of Neo-gothic, Romanesque, Federalist, and early American architecture, is enhanced by the rich history and broad culture the area has to offer. The political epicenter of the country offers beautiful architecture, art, ethnicity, and a wide variety of restaurants that offer excellent food and ambiance.
While you're here, take in all the conference has to offer, but don't forget to treat yourself to some of the things that are right at your fingertips!
To some GAC attendees the D.C. area is familiar but to others who haven't regularly attended the conference, trying to make sense of the Metrorail--not to mention all the different Metrobus routes and street names--can be pretty overwhelming. The following tips should help:
D.C. is broken into four different quadrants, Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, and Southeast.
Streets and addresses are labeled, NW, SW, NE, SE to indicate the quadrant in which it is located.
Numbered streets run north-south.
Lettered streets run east-west alphabetically (becoming two syllable names, then three syllable names as you travel out farther from the center).
Avenues named for U.S. states run diagonally and often meet at traffic circles and squares.
The U.S. Capitol building marks the center where the quadrants meet.
There are five Metrorail lines that are named for colors: Red, yellow, blue, green, and orange.
Metro stations are marked by brown pylons capped with the letter "M" and colored stripes to indicate which lines are available.
(For Metrobus and Metrorail fares, schedules, and maps visit www.wmata.com).
Places to See
The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens: The former residence of art collector Marjorie Merriweather Post, this estate holds one of the most comprehensive collections of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Russian Imperial art outside of Russia, as well as an extensive collection of eighteenth-century French decorative art. The grounds also hold beautiful gardens and walkways. Located near the Van Ness Metro station on the red line.
The National Cathedral: The fourteenth-century, Gothic grand cathedral built in 1907 hosts its centennial celebration through out 2007-2008. Aside from visiting to view the beautiful architecture, the cathedral also is hosting The Keiskamma Project: Giving Life Through Art exhibit through March 9. The exhibit hosts embroidery, beadwork, appliqu?(C), and photography of 130 townspeople of an AIDS-ravaged town in South Africa. Located near the Cleveland Park Metro on the red line.
Adams Morgan: This area is well known for its ethnical diversity. Ethiopian, Thai, and Indian restaurants are among the offerings here. The area holds a heritage trail you can walk along to view a variety of mural art. Try and visit Madam Organs, one of the area's live music venues. The first Tuesday of every month, Adams Morgan Main Street sponsors shopping and eating discounts. Take the Metro to Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan or hop in a cab.
The National Geographic Museum at Explores Hall: The museum offers free educational exhibits that display adventure and scientific research. Events and lectures available to the public take place through out the month. On March 4 at noon the museum is offering a free screening of the National Geographic all Roads Film Project. To view other events visit, www.nationalgeographic.com/musuem.
The surrounding area of the Convention Center provides excellent dining options--whether for a quick bite on your own, a lunch meeting, or for dinner on the way back to the hotel at the end of the day.
For lunch consider:
Caf?(C) Phillips: (650 Massachusetts Ave., NW). Offers freshly carved turkey and roast beef sandwiches daily.
5 Guys Famous Burgers: (808 H Street, NW). Zagat-rated, serves burgers, fries, and hot dogs. Visit www.fiveguys.com to check out the menu.
Capital Q BBQ: (707 H Street, NW). The place the locals go for brisket, pulled pork, chicken and sausage. Visit www.capitalqbbq.com for the complete menu and to view their live camera to see how crowded it is at lunch time.
Chop't: (730 7th Street, NW). You pick the salad ingredient, they chop it and serve it. Also offers the offer create-your-own-flatbread sandwich. Visit www.choptsalad.com.
Lawson's Deli: (901 New York Avenue, NW). Serves traditional lunch sandwiches.
For the familiarity of large national food chains, the area also offers Ruby Tuesdays, McDonald's, Chipotle, Fuddruckers, and Potbelly's.
Acadiana: (901 New York Avenue, NW). For Southern-style food that combines the old and the new of the southern region of the Mississippi Delta, Bayous, and Gulf of Mexico. (www.acadianarestuarant.com.)
Lima: (1401 K Street, NW). Offers a weekly Latin-infused menu and is known for its combination of excellent food and ambiance. (www.limarestuarant.com).
Zaytinya: (701 9th Street, NW). Serves a variety of Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese food (www.zaytinya.com).
Oya: (777 9th Street, NW). For French Asian cuisine and sushi. (www.oyadc.com).
Zengo: (781 7th Street, NW). For Latin Asian cuisine (www.modernmexican.com).
Just For Fun
Voice of America's 24-hour, multimedia international news broadcast studio offers free tours to the public. Voice of America began in 1942, as a response to the needs of people in closed and war-torn societies seeking reliable news. The studio offers free, 45-minute tours that go behind the scenes of the live broadcasts that are guided by audio and video features. Tours are offered from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and reservations can be made online or by calling (202) 203-4990. Address: 330 Independence Ave. SW.
Madame Tussauds' wax museum just opened in D.C. this past October. The museum holds four different themed rooms of wax replicas including a Spirit of D.C. room. Famous faces here include political figures such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. There also is an Oval Office and replica of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence that visitors can take pictures with. There is also a Behind the Scenes room where visitors can get a look at how the wax figures are made, a Glamour room in which visitors can pose with A-list "celebrities," and a Sports room. Address: 1025 F Street NW.
Lucky Strikes Lanes combines state-of-the-art lanes with gourmet dining and cocktails. Located at the Verizon center the bowling alley makes for a good night time spot for a group. Address: 701 7th Street NW.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing lets you tour the "Money Factory" and watch millions of dollars roll off the press. The tour features all the steps of printing money from blank sheets of paper to the money in your pocket. Address: 14th and C Street, SW.
John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the living memorial to JFK features free performances daily on the Millennium Stage. Address: 2700 F Street, NW.
Congressional Hot Spots
Drink and dine and watch for members of Congress at some of their favorite hangouts.
The Monocle: (107 D Street, NE). Located on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, this spot is a known favorite of members of Congress, staff, and lobbyists and has been visited by every U.S. president since Kennedy. Open for lunch and dinner serving American cuisine with a full service bar.
The Hawk 'n' Dove Restaurant: (329 Pennsylvania Ave, SE). A six-room bar and restaurant that serves sandwiches and burgers until 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends. "It's a place where staffers, both Democrat and Republican, gather to gripe about their bosses, the restaurant's Web site quips. (Never by name, of course. The etiquette is to refer to "my member," in case the other guys are eavesdropping.)
Other favorites include: Tune Inn (331 Pennsylvania Ave, SE), Pour House (319 Pennsylvania Ave, SE), and Capitol Lounge (229 Pennsylvania Ave, SE). Visit the Capitol Lounge Web site at www.capitolloungedc.com for fun facts on the presidents.