February 07, 2013

Resources for Students and Interns in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a great city with a lively music scene, plenty of great colleges, the home of the Future of Music Coalition and, of course, is pretty much the place to be if you're interested in career that focuses on music policy and the laws that affect the entertainment industry.  So, as part of our series to help you adjust to life in a new city, we asked Allison Getty of New To D.C.™to write a guest post of things to do, places to eat, and other helpful information for DC's transplants because that's her specialty. 

Allison Getty founded New To D.C.™ to help new residents and interns in D.C. to adjust to life in their new city and take advantage of all that it has to offer. Aside from offering instructional workshops on networking to interns, New To D.C.™ provides a host of helpful information on its website. Below you will find a snapshot of resources that should be relevant to you during your time as an intern in D.C. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!

Photo by Katie Reilly

Helpful Websites
Offers maps of public transportation, real-time arrival schedules, trip-planner devise, and more.

Maintains lists of events and activities in D.C. as well as helpful and funny articles about living in the District.

If you want to find out where the hot spots are in the city, check out the Post’s Going Out Guide where you can find anything from the best happy hours to lives performing across the city.

Similar to the Going Out Guide, Metromix is a great reference for weeknight or weekend entertainment.

Provides helpful information on everything from successfully completing your internship to checking out the sites in Washington, D.C.

Places to Eat
With locations in Columbia Heights and Logan Circle, Thaitanic cooks up some high quality thai food.

If you find yourself on Capitol Hill, then be sure to stop by Spike Mendelson’s “We the Pizza,” where you can get pizza by the slice or whole pie. It has traditional favorites and unique choices too such as BBQ pizza or Spinach and Artichoke pizza.

With a number of locations across the city, Taylor’s popularity has spiked quickly. You can find some delicious breakfast or lunch creations here including the Spicy Italian Sausage.

If you’re 21+ and a beer drinker, then you cannot miss Churchkey which offers 555 “unique labels.” This might sound overwhelming, but they offer a sampler’s platter where you can try tastes of a number of different drafts. Churchkey also has a great good menu including a delicious “brat burger.”

Housing Resources

Things to Do
One of the best ways to learn your way around town is to take advantage of all the sight-seeing opportunities in Washington, D.C. We’re sitting right in the center of our nation’s history with a number of museums and monuments celebrating it. The bonus is that a lot of these exhibits are free. Whether you’re hosting a visitor or looking for a weekend activity, there’s certainly no shortage of fun activities to do in this city. 

Everyone wants a tour of the White House when they come to Washington D.C.. Tours of the White House can be secured through your Congressman’s office and requests must be made 6 months in advance. If you aren’t able to get tickets, consider stopping by the White House Visitor’s Center which would be better described as a museum than a visitor’s center because it provides a detailed overview of the White House, including architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, relations with the press and world leaders. Allow yourself 20 minutes – 1 hour to explore the exhibits. The White House Historical Association sponsors a sales area where you can pick up unique White House souvenirs. The Center is open seven days a week from 7:30am until 4:00pm and is located at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets. Restrooms are available, but food service is not.
Photo by Katie Reilly
Over in Chinatown, you’ll find one of the District’s newer museums, The International Spy Museum, which is home to the world’s largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever displayed to the public. This is a highly interactive museum. The tour begins by you choosing your alias and committing it to memory. The fun continues with videos, activities, unique artifacts, and stories of espionage that will blow you away. It’s a pretty big museum though, so I’d encourage you to carve out at least 2 hours for it, maybe more if you’re particularly interested in the topic. Because it’s not a Smithsonian, there is an admission fee of $20 for adults and $14 for children, so you’ll want to stay long enough to get your money’s worth anyway.

If you’ve always wanted to hear a case argued before The Supreme Court, then you’re in luck – as long as you are in town while the court is in session. The Supreme Court usually hears two cases a day beginning at 10:00am October – April. Only a limited number of people are allowed in each day, so it is necessary to get in line early to reserve a spot. If you’re in town during recess, then you can still go on a tour of the court Monday – Friday at 2:00pm. The tour is fascinating, with a wealth of interesting information, though I would not recommend it for young children because there’s nothing much for them to do besides listen. 

Right next door to the Court, you’ll find The Library of Congress which is the largest library in the world. It was originally built to serve as a resource for Congress, but now the public has access and you shouldn’t miss it. The library’s pride and joy is the Gutenberg Bible, which is the first book that was printed by the printing press. There are a number of other exhibits and daily talks that you can take advantage of. Public tours are offered daily on the hour. I recommend taking the tour versus wandering around by yourself because the tour guides do an excellent job of providing a mix of history and narrative that you would otherwise miss.

Heading over to the National Mall, you’ll find The National Museum of Natural History, which features the Hope Diamond, a 45 ½ carat jewel. You can also see a life-sized model of a blue whale, an enormous prehistoric white shark, and an 80-foot dinosaur skeleton. The National Museum of Natural History is very interactive and can hold your attention even if it’s not one of your top interests.

If you’re a fan of the National Treasure movies with Nicholas Cage, check out the National Archives where you can catch a glimpse of the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. You cannot miss this vital part of our nation’s history. Viewing the National Archives only takes about 30 minutes assuming you miss the line. If you know what day you’ll be visiting, you can make reservations online for a tour which occur Monday – Friday at 9:45am. Admission is free.

Right across the Mall is another popular sight, the Air and Space Museum. Here you can see the Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, Columbia, and a lunar rock sample that visitors can touch. There’s even an I-Max theater where you can rest your feet for a bit and catch the museum’s latest feature. 

Another fun stop is in Washington, D.C. is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Public tours are given every 15 minutes 9:00am –10:45am and 12:30pm – 3:45pm. The 40-minute guided tour includes a video and viewing of the production process where you will actually see money being printed. Free tickets are required for all tours. You can obtain same-day tickets at the ticket booth located on Raoul Wallenberg Place (formerly 15th Street). The ticket booth opens at 8:00am Monday through Friday and closes when all tickets have been distributed. 

If you need a break from the museums, stop by The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts to see a performance or hear some music. Make sure to take advantage of the free performances at 6:00pm daily on the Millennium Stage in the Grand Foyer. The Kennedy Center also provides free tours 10:00am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday and 10:00am – 1:00pm on weekends. Tours depart from the parking plaza on Level A and feature the Hall of States and Hall of Nations, the Center’s main theaters, as well as paintings, sculptures, and other artwork.

 If it’s a nice day outside, tie up your walking shoes and head over to Arlington Cemetery which serves as the resting place for casualties of war, veterans, and their spouses from the Civil War to the present. Make sure that you catch the changing of the guard of the unnamed soldiers, which is a military ritual that takes place every hour on the hour. You’ll also want to see the Memorial Amphitheater, which is where memorial services are held. You can reach Arlington Cemetery by Metro or tour bus. It is open 8:00am – 7:00pm April 1 through September 30 and 8:00am – 5:00pm October 1 through March 31.

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