Off the beaten path: Washington D.C.

As a college student, many opportunities unique to students become available, especially when it comes to traveling. One of the most popular destinations in the United States is the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Although D.C. is defined by a rich cultural heritage, the political center of our country offers many alternative attractions most tourists seem to overlook.

When planning a trip, the first step is finding somewhere to stay. The Capitol Skyline Hotel, located only blocks from the capitol itself, offers a good deal with rooms starting at $79 per night. If there’s no availability there, the best bet is staying outside the city and close to the nearest Metro station. Washington D.C. is a destination within which there is no need to drive. The Metro is similar to the Trax system, except it goes more places, is faster and is underground the majority of the time. It is easy to get disoriented, but as long as you can find the train station you’re never truly lost.

The first stop to make is the must-see attraction of D.C.: the National Mall. This two-mile-long expanse of grass with a reflection pool is surrounded by museums and monuments. It includes the Smithsonian and its many associated museums, the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capital Building and Lincoln Memorial along with many others, which are all located just blocks from the White House.

The 9:30 Club is D.C.’s premier live music venue. Guest artists range from Timbaland, The Used and Dropkick Murphys to lesser known artists. The Black Cat, though smaller than The 9:30 Club, is also another popular venue where indie and alternative artists from local, national and international backgrounds perform. There are also many dance clubs in the city but one of the more celebrated is Love Nightclub, which is sure to give any party-goer an experience to remember.

For those looking to shop during their visit, the Shops at Georgetown including Georgetown Park are an essential stop. The Shops have a quaint Victorian-styled appearance, but cater to the modern shopping needs of the new generation. Along the same street as many of the shops is Georgetown Park, an indoor shopping complex, which caters to those same needs. However, those who don’t have hours to devote can stop at Pentagon City Mall, a four-story shopping complex that is directly connected to the metro station.

When it comes to dining in D.C., there is something to choose from on every corner. Nirvana has a menu to make anyone with taste buds salivate, with particular options for those of the vegetarian persuasion. Also, Lauriol Plaza is a well-known restaurant in D.C which offers delicious Tex-Mex cuisine.

For a quick and cheap bite, there is Ella’s Wood-Fired Pizza, Ben’s Chili Bowl or Potbelly Sandwich Works. For those looking to stay within their culinary comfort zone, there are also the standard generic chain restaurants such as Chipotle Mexican Grille and Five Guys Burgers.

Washington D.C. is a conventional tourist destination with many unconventional sites and scenes to be explored by those looking to delve past the obvious attractions and into the shoes of a local.

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