Now that we are leaving the DC area, I have had time to reflect on our last three years here. Like the cliche, we did not enjoy all of perks DC had to offer while we were here; but, we did find spots that were our favorites. I'm jotting all of this down in case you take a trip to the nation's capital! Oh, and a few things we did NOT love so much about living here is at the bottom. No place is perfect!
Our Favorite Free Attractions
Any time we hosted visitors, we took trips into the city to see all of the "DC" things, like the National Mall (not a shopping mall, I quickly learned), the National Archives (home to the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Bill of Rights), the Washington Monument and the White House. All free, lots of walking (yay exercise!) and plenty of history to enjoy. You can plan it yourself using a map like this or take one of the many free walking tours!
This past year, I was able to visit the National Arboretum with friends who visited, and I am so sad I did not discover it sooner! Not only are there thousands of plants, but there are rotating exhibits. We visited when the Bonsai exhibit was in town, and words cannot explain how amazing it was to see all of the tiny, adorable trees. (That is not how the Bonsai artists would describe them, but oh well, they were tiny and adorable.) I took dozens of photos (like the one here)!
Almost Free Attractions
Even though these places are not free, the low cost of admission is well worth the history you experience. Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate, is fantastic. We could spend all day checking out the buildings, learning more about Washington's life and hearing from "Martha Washington."
If you have one change to visit Washington, DC, you must schedule a tour at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It is powerful, it is informative and it is humbling. No, it's not the cheerful outing one would have at Disney World, but you will never forget the experience.
For The Drinkers
Before we moved here, I had never heard of Virginia wine country. It did not take long, though, for us to explore the local wineries and find our favorites. One of our favorite Saturday outings is relaxing on a winery patio sipping on fresh, local wine while grazing on cheese and warm bread.
Our favorite winery is North Gate in Leesburg, VA. It is eco-friendly, has an amazing wine tasting menu and offers delicious cheese and meat platters. (This picture is from the first time the hubs took me there!)
Although there are fewer breweries and distilleries in the DC/Northern Virginia area, they are also fantastic places to enjoy one-of-a-kind beers and spirits. It is one thing to visit the grocery store and pick up a seasonal brew, but it is a completely different thing visiting a local brewery and sipping on a fresh seasonal beer from the tap.
Our favorite brewery is Adroit Theory. Every time we visit they have all new small-batch beers on tap, and not just your run-of-the-mill beers - crazy flavors like Pineapple and Caramel.
What I Won't Miss
Although we were able to explore, enjoy and learn while living in the DC area, there are a few things I would not like to do again. Some are exclusive to people who live here and others are just general heads-up items if you visit.
THE COST OF RENT. Living in Washington, DC, or in one of its many suburbs in Virginia and Maryland is so expensive. To give you an idea, Bret and I live about 40 minutes outside of the city and we still pay 2.5 more in rent than we did in Lawrence, Kansas. There are many multi-family homes and roommate situations going on, and I cannot blame them. We don't have kids yet, but I hear the cost of childcare is also debilitating.
TRAFFIC. The DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) transportation entities try really hard to encourage people to carpool and use public transit, but there are still thousands of individuals who drive in their own car. With so many people driving into the city for work (and growing rapidly), travel tends to take awhile.
All in all, moving to the East Coast was a great experience for a newly married couple like us. There is a large chance we will come back to DC for a tour, so we hope to continue exploring the area!
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Love you all,