When I found out Maggie would be in town for a week this summer I was beyond excited. We haven’t seen each other since I visited her in Israel, which is hard to believe since just one year ago we were literally inseparable. We’ve been so many places together, but we have ironically spent almost no time together in DC despite having both lived here before. Instead of making any real plans we picked a meeting spot and meandered around town all day long.
This city can get expensive, but there are still plenty of free and cheap things to do in Washington DC.
To start off our day we met at Kramerbooks in Dupont because it’s a convenient location and easy to find. I perused the DC guide books while I waited for Maggie to get a few ideas for our day. You can spend hours flipping pages in Kramerbooks or grab a table and order up a delicious meal (I really love their Kale, Blue Cheese & Quinoa Caesar). Mid-morning the cafe bar opens up and serves coffee to go. You can also grab an even less expensive coffee cup and pastry next door at Starbucks like we did.
We caught up, wandered down Massachusetts Ave towards Chinatown and spent the morning perusing the National Portrait Gallery. They have a special exhibit right now, Eye Pop, featuring celebrity portraits near the entrance and an exhibit of Time Magazine covers from the 60’s upstairs. Both exhibits were free. The sunny atrium is a quiet place to relax in the morning, and it becomes a gathering spot for locals on their lunch break around noon.
Instead of hanging around for lunch we walked over to Lime. The queso burrito is delicious and you an get a meal and beer for around $15. They have even better deals if you stop in at happy hour. The meals come with bottomless chips and a whole salsa bar for exploring. Nearby there’s plenty of shopping if you’re interested.
After lunch we walked down towards the National Building Museum to catch their BEACH exhibit. They’ve turned the main hall into a giant white ball pit that resembles a beach. Since the lines were long and the crowd was geared towards young ones, Maggie and I climbed up to the second floor. We got a great view of the exhibit and discovered an even more interesting one, Hot to Cold. A walk around the world in 800 feet. The perimeter of the second floor balcony was lined with replica landmarks from around the world. I particularly liked the Scandinavian designs. Entrance to the BEACH costs $16 but the rest of the exhibits are free.
Nearby we found the sculpture garden. If you wander in midday, you can settle in beneath the shade or dip your feet in the fountain. We stuck out toes in to cool off and tossed a few pennies in for good luck. On Friday evenings it’s more crowded but you can set up a spot and enjoy Jazz in the Garden. The best part? Lounging around here won’t cost you a dime (unless, of course, you throw those in too).
Back in Chinatown we stopped by Ping Pong dim sum. I enjoyed the watermelon and cardamom cocktail while Maggie tried out their lavender margarita. They have a whole list of drinks and small plates for just $5 during happy hour.
From here, U street was a short walk so we headed north to meet up with Cara. She wanted to join us for another drink, so after freshening up at her place we all walked over to Southern Hospitality in Adams Morgan. If you happen to stop by on Monday, you can grab 1/2 priced bottles of wine all night. They also have great happy hour specials. We grabbed a platter of hummus to go with our Vinho Verde.
When it was finally dark out I didn’t want to let Maggie go. We’re going to have to plan another trip soon.