by Michael Spigler
Michael Spigler is currently the Vice President of Patient Services & Education at the American Kidney Fund and former Program Director at the IOCDF in Boston, MA. As a former team member of IOCDF, upcoming Volunteer at this year’s Conference, and current DC resident, we felt he’d be the best person to enlighten us on things to see and do in the 2018 OCD Conference city! Read below for his recommendations.
Allow me to welcome you to the Nation’s Capital and one of the most diverse cities in the US! Loaded with history, culture and free attractions, you’ll find plenty of things to do while you are attending the 25th Annual OCD Conference.
This is by no means an all-encompassing list, but I’ve tried to find a little something for everyone, including some highlights that are just a short distance from the Conference headquarters hotel.
Getting around town
While taxis are plentiful in DC, none of the locals here really use them. Expensive fares and surly drivers cause most people to use Uber, Lyft, the Metro, Capital Bikeshare (one of several bicycle sharing services in DC) or simply walk. Since you’ll be in DC in July, it may be too hot to walk, so plan accordingly. If you are using the Metro, the Conference hotel is located on the Red Line which dips as a U-shape through the entire city. Your closest stop to the hotel will be Woodley Park-Zoo, which is a very short walk from the front door of the hotel.
There are several great attractions located nearby the Conference hotel, the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, including:
As you can tell by the name of the closest Metro stop, the closest attraction to you will be the National Zoo. Since the zoo is run by the Smithsonian and is government-funded it means that admission is free. You’ll find the zoo’s main entrance less than a ½ mile North on Connecticut Avenue. The zoo’s main attraction is the panda exhibit, but the entire zoo is exceptional. If you enter through the main gate, you should know that you are entering the zoo at the top of a hill, that means that as you walk through the zoo you will be going downhill. Just remember that you will have to go back UP that hill on the way back home.
Just a bit further north past the zoo you will find a collection of quaint restaurants and bars that cover a wide variety of cuisines and atmospheres.
Just under a mile from the hotel, you will find the neighborhood of Adams Morgan. One of the city’s best coffee shops, Tryst can be found there as well as a DC nightlife institution Madam’s Organ Blues Bar. This area is a popular destination for the area’s many college students on Friday and Saturday nights, so keep that in mind if heading to the neighborhood. If you are looking for a late night slice of pizza, you’ll find lots of opportunities here.
One of the most popular neighborhoods in DC, you will find some of the city’s best restaurants and nightlife here. It is either one Metro stop away or about a 1 ¼ mile walk from the hotel. In this area you will find many of the international embassies and one of my favorite little Italian restaurants in the city call Al Tiramisu.
Other DC Highlights
The majority of DC’s attractions are federally-funded using your tax dollars, so take advantage of them where you can. Some of my favorites:
- National Archives – See the Declaration of Independence (just please don’t steal it unless you are Nicholas Cage) and the Louisiana Purchase among many other historical pieces. You can find this gem just north of the National Mall.
- Smithsonian museums – bordering the National Mall on both sides, you will find lots of great, free museums, including the Air and Space, Natural History, American History, American Indian museums and the newest addition, the African American museum. Tips: If planning on going to the African American museum get your (free) tickets in advance for a timed entry.
Monuments – Too numerous to mention, but some of my favorites are the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the World War II Memorial and, of course, the Lincoln Memorial. Tip: Don’t just look at Lincoln while visiting this iconic structure. Stand at the top of the steps and turn around. Look out on the Mall as so many historical figures have in the past, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are also a few paid attractions that I do think are worth it:
- The Newseum – One of the priciest admittance fees in the city, but the museum has amazing views of the Capitol and many thought-provoking exhibits.
- The Spy Museum – A great museum for kids, there are lots of interactive exhibits and a “mission” for kids to finish while visiting.
- Ford’s Theater – Closed for over ten years during a renovation, the site of Lincoln’s Assassination is now again a working theater and hosts several guided tours a day. Tip: the Spy Museum and Ford’s Theater are a close way to one another and are near several great DC restaurants and bars, including celebrity chef Jose Andres’ Jaleo, a great tapas restaurant.
Odds and Ends
- Looking to shop ‘til you drop? Have a car? Head off to Tyson’s Corner Center, about a 25-minute drive from your hotel. Just know that there is often LOTS of traffic leaving Tyson’s.
- Love craft beer? Unfortunately, the brewery scene in DC itself isn’t great, but one of my favorites is Bluejacket, located near Nationals Stadium. Also, check out Churchkey for a fantastic selection of draft and bottled beers from all over the country.
- I couldn’t write this without also mentioning the landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl. Known as much for its popularity with celebrities as its food, if you go do yourself a favor and order the chili half smoke.
- Unfortunately, you can no longer visit the White House without jumping through some hoops. If you are interested in attending, you need to get your congressional representative to “sponsor” you and you’ll have to have a background check run on you by the secret service before having your tour date request approved. However, it is still accessible by view (though it is a somewhat distant one) from E St. NW, in front of a grassy lawn called The Ellipse.
- Hidden bars and speakeasies have also taken off in DC recently. My favorite is Chicken Whiskey, but you can read about all of them and how to find them here: https://dc.eater.com/maps/best-speakeasy-bars-dc
I look forward to welcoming you to DC this July!
To learn more about the 25th Annual OCD Conference, and to register, visit www.ocd2018.org.