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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2011
    Anyone around here from the D.C. region?

    I've been living here with a friend of mine for a friend for a few months, and finally got a job that will last long enough/pay enough that I might be able to set up on my own for too long. Figured it's long past time I inquired if anyone here also used D.C. as their meatspace, and if they had any general advice, tips, and suggestions for a guy who still hasn't gotten his license plates switched over from Iowa.
  1.  (9624.2)
    I lived in the suburbs until around 2004 and in the city from 2004–2009. The best thing I ever did was move from that godawful city to New York.

    Anyway, useful tips for DC:
    • Virginia has the most competent local government in the area and Maryland seems to be the least corrupt. The DC Government is pretty much worst at absolutely everything.
    • The Library of Congress’ rare books room is the greatest place on Earth.
    • The Virginia suburbs have the best restaurants in the area due to the abundance of cheap strip-mall real estate and numerous wonderful immigrant communities.
    • If you don’t have a job in DC or on a nearby Metro stop then don’t live in the city. The quality of life in DC does not justify the high rents.
    • DC is a lot safer than it used to be, but parts of it are still very dangerous at night. If cabbies don’t want to be there after dark then neither do you. If the buses in a neighborhood have bullet-proof glass around the driver that’s because drivers on that route have been attacked or killed. Do not go into those parts of the city.
    • If a residential street has police surveillance cameras it’s a violent crime hot spot.
    • Before renting or buying anything in the city talk to officers at the local police precinct. If they give you any hint that you don’t want to live on a block do NOT move in there. Also, check out any potential digs after midnight and on a Saturday afternoon to see who hangs around outside 9–5.
    • Do not go down any dark streets or alleys in DC. Thugs in DC kill the lights on purpose and the city fixes them fast. A dark street is a bad sign.
    • Don’t go out alone after dark anywhere north of U St. NW or East of 14 St. NW until you know the city. There’s plenty of great stuff and safe places outside that area, but if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s easy to get lost or wander into a dangerous place.
  2.  (9624.3)
    I just started checking out D.C. when I moved to GMU this year and I'm also keeping an ear to the ground for any advice or recommendations for the District of Columbia.

    @James Puckett: Interesting tips, I'll make sure to remember these next time my friends and I head into the city.
    • CommentAuthorcgordon
    • CommentTimeMar 9th 2011
    What James said. DC's a great town, but it can be a PiTA, too. I could spend weeks at the Smithsonian(s).

    It's an easy shot from DC to a TON of historical places and things, and there's a lot of fun to be had within a 50-mile radius or so. The book 50 Hikes in 50 Miles has been great.

    Outside DC, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is superb, and to the NW a bit, Frederick, MD, is a surprising little town with a ton of good food and a vibrant arts scene.

    Old Town Alexandria can be a hoot (and can be annoying as hell), and Georgetown has sort of become a tony area (I rmember when it was pretty much a slum ...)

    Enjoy and stay safe.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 9th 2011
    I've been to Alexandria's old town - it was fun, but I think my credit rating dropped just setting foot there!

    Hmmm... tell me more about this Frederick, MD. I am interested.
    • CommentTimeMar 9th 2011 edited
    Baltimore person here with some family near DC. Apart from visiting family, I also go to DC for museums/galleries and shows.

    I'm just going to unload all this info and hope at least some of it applies to your needs.

    Something I really like about DC is that you can reach Baltimore or NYC really easily. If you don't feel like driving, I recommend BoltBus for NYC ($1 one-way fares if you buy them early/fast enough). It's like a less scary version of the notorious Chinatown buses. For getting to Baltimore, there's the weekday MARC train that leaves from Union Station and takes you to Baltimore's Penn Station in about forty minutes ($7 each way). And then from Baltimore's Penn Station, there are varieties of public transportation (including the excellent and FREE Charm City Circulator bus) that can take you to parts of Baltimore like the aforementioned aquarium in the Inner Harbor. Around that same area, there's also Geppi's Museum (old-school pop culture) and the Visionary Art Museum (lots of outsider art... doodles done on paper plates by obsessive-compulsives and that kind of stuff). If you REALLY have time to kill in Baltimore, I highly recommend The Book Thing, which is like a used bookstore but everything's free. Like, you just walk in there, pick out all the books you want, write the number of books you grabbed on a clipboard, and leave. It's fucking fantastic.

    If you're coming to Baltimore, though, I would recommend exploring in the day 'cause it can get dangerous.

    And yeah. Those DC museums and galleries are amazing. Never enough time in those.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 10th 2011
    I am gonna have to make my way up to Baltimore, then! I left almost all of my books back home, and I've re-read all the ones I've got here. The Book Thing sounds like a must-go place. Thanks, Annie!
  3.  (9624.8)
    @Annie: The book thing sounds immensely cool, I definitely need to check out Baltimore sometime. And I heard great things about the bolt-bus when my friends and I were trying to go to NYC for winter break.
    • CommentAuthorcgordon
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
    Frederick's about 40 miles up I270, NW from DC. Smallish city (but second/third? largest in Maryland, about 60k folks). Old school downtown with restaurants, bars, shops and cafes, nice canalwalk area, mostly local or mom-n-pop shops downtown with very few big boxers.

    Eateries include Cuban, Irish, Asian fusion, Tex-Mex, Spanish-Mex (tapas, too), Ethiopian, Viet, pubgrub, a brewpub, some fairly tony (or wannbe tony) places such as Volt. Fave restaurant there is Mick's just a few blocks off the main drag on Patrick St. Chef's doing some fine things with classic dishes with a twist, and has a great beer selection and funny servers. Lots of good selections.

    A great little wine shop on Market St (the main drag thru d/t), Viniferous. Bob, the owner, works the counter most days and is a hoot.

    Cafe Nola is the neares thing to a Europen cafe I've stepped into this side of the pond, great coffee (Illy) and a fairly good beer and wine selection. They make their own liquor infusions, too. Menu's not massive, but is decent, live music occasionally.

    In town, cuisine ranges from Thai to Latin American to some pretty darn good seafood, and, of course, includes lots of Red Blobster and Outback dining near the mall and major shopping areas.

    Several galleries and such, lots of festivals and events in the d/t area when weather's good. First Saturday each month is a big party.

    Fairly dog-friendly downtown, and some very nice architecture tucked away here and there.

    It's not Muenchen or Freiburg, but it's fun and as it's at the foothills of the Catoctin Mts (sort of foothills to the Appalachians), very scenic in areas. Good hiking in the near, and close to the Potomac and Shendoah Rivers, not a far hop to the Appalachian Trail, several Rev and Civil War sites nearby.

    A very nice park runs through the middle of town along Baker Creek (which turns into the canal area), with free concerts in summertime and many activities. An old-fashioned carrillion in in a tower in the park is manned by a guy who does concerts Sundays ...

      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2011
    This place sounds damn nice. My roomie and I tend to make occasional trips up to New Jersey to visit a friend there, we might have to stop in Frederick on our way back sometime.

    Thank you everyone for all the tips and suggestions. You're really helping a displaced midwesterner feel a bit more at home!

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