Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Regardless of where you live, itís sometimes difficult to think of great places to take someone when they visit from out of town. As a local, you have all the time you need to explore, but when guests arrive, you want to show them your areaís best in a just a few days. The trick is selecting a collection of sites that not only stir interest, but also represent an areaís diversity, history, and fun. The top 10 list below does just that. Whether you are a visitor looking for an out-of-the-ordinary itinerary or a local looking for the best places to take your guests, you can use this list to start or come up with your own ideas.
Capital Crescent Trail
Beauty, convenience, ambiance: the Capital Crescent Trail has it all. Start in Bethesda, Maryland and rent a bike from Big Wheel Bikes, located just a few minutes walk from the Metro. From there, you can begin the Capital Crescent Trail and take it all the way to DC. This trail is also excellent for joggers, walkers, and rollerbladers alike. Be sure to see it while you can, though, portions of the trail are slated for development to make room for Washington, DC's much awaited Purple Line.
The Islamic Center
Learn about Islam, its people, and its culture. Take a tour with a knowledgeable guide and learn about the buildingís architecture. The center is open to all faiths and allows Sunni, Shiite, and members of all other Islamic traditions to come together and pray. Note: Women must be covered head to toe in the mosque except for hands, feet, and face.
Venture through the U Street area to 16th street to find one DCís up and coming areas for boutique shopping and entertainment. Several theaters, shops, and restaurants are located all along this street. Itís a novel place to just stroll and shop, more so than Georgetown. Itís also more convenient and accessible by Metro.
Weekend guests should take the opportunity to peruse Eastern Market, where they will find live, outdoor music and fresh, local foods. Local craftspersons and artisans also showcase and sell their wares alongside antique dealers and sellers of collectible items.
Metro Stage Theater
While this top ten member isnít exactly in DC proper, itís well worth the Metro ride or short drive to Virginia. Carolyn Griffin is the woman who oversees the operations at Metro Stage, and sheís developed a coveted reputation for finding new, local talent and hosting innovative productions. Many notable plays get their start right here.
A tour of the nationís Capitol building gives you a sense of American history. Itís a stately building and also highly functional. You can take a tour with a staff member from the office of your congressional representative or take one with a guide hired by the capitol itself. Both forms of tours have their advantages: one more personalized, the other steeped in history.
Benís Chili Bowl
This restaurant has been in DC since 1958 and is a must-dine excursion for any local or tourist. Their fare is simple: chili. Try it on hot dogs, fries, or plain or try one of their vegetarian or non-chili dishes. Benís Chili Bowl is conveniently located on U Street and near the Lincoln Theater, making it an appropriate choice for dining whether before the theater or as you eat your way around town.
You may have seen Warren Brown on the Food Network as the host of Sugar Rush, an insiders cooking show where bakers from around the world divulge some of their best baking secrets. However, Warren Brown is also the owner of CakeLove. A former lawyer, Brown retired his law career in exchange for baking delicious, decadent cakes. CakeLove has several locations around DC and one in Baltimore.
National Botanical Garden
The National Botanical Garden is breathtaking. Novice enthusiasts and experts alike will enjoy both the variety of plant life it features and its exhibits. Also of particular interest are the butterfly and rose gardens.