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Travel Tips for Mornings in DC December 16, 2018

Washington DC has a bit of a reputation as an early to rise, early to bed kind of city. It is not uncommon to see locals starting their day before sunrise, especially during the work week; but many visitors don’t start their days usually until a little later because sleeping in is one of the best perks of vacation! That said, if you are an early bird, here are four ideas for how to enjoy mornings in DC.

1. Go on a photo safari

Sunrise and sunset are both great times to take photos. However, sunrise is often better because there are fewer people out and about. So if you show up to the Lincoln Memorial at 7:00 in the morning you will have a much better chance of getting a great photo without a thousand people in it compared to the afternoon or evening.

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most popular sights but the other memorials might be even quieter. The Vietnam Memorial feels very peaceful in the morning, compared to later in the day when all the tourists arrive. Now, there is no guarantee that going down to the National Mall first thing in the morning will get you the place to yourself. A lot of locals like to get their morning exercise in before it gets really hot during the summer and before they have to leave for work. So don’t be surprised to find a bunch of fitness enthusiasts out with you.

2. See the animals at the National Zoo

Smithsonian museums on the National Mall open at 10:00 a.m. However, the National Zoo opens a little earlier. The grounds open at 8 a.m. and the exhibits at 9 a.m. Starting at 8 a.m. you can walk around on the pathways. However, the animal exhibits will not open until 9:00 a.m. You can still see many of the animals just from the outside paths. Morning is actually one of the best times to see the animals because in the afternoon, they often settle down for a little nap.

3. Eat at an old-fashioned diner

Diners are becoming fewer and fewer as people stopped going out for breakfast and started preferring brunch. However, the few remaining diners are great places to go to in the mornings in DC.

One of our favorites is Jimmy T’s located on East Capitol Street about a five-minute walk from the Capitol building. Another similar diner is called Pete’s Diner, located on the south side of the Capitol building, just a few minutes walk. Both of these places are no-frills breakfast diners, you’ll find eggs pancakes, potatoes, and more. Be sure to bring cash because they are cash only. Both diners close every day at 3 p.m.

Another spot we really like is Market Lunch, located inside the Eastern Market. The name is a little misleading, however, as the breakfast is what it is worth going for. The signature dish here is called “blue bucks” short for blueberry buckwheat pancakes. Breakfast ends at 11 a.m. on weekdays and 1:30 p.m. on the weekends. So make sure to get here before they cut it off!

4. Get caffeinated on a Coffee Crawl

The coffee shop scene in DC has exploded over the last decade. There are far too many coffee shops to list out here. But, there are a few areas where you can go if you want to hit a bunch of them in a short time. Start up at 14th and U Streets NW. There are at least half a dozen independent or small local coffee chains that you can visit without even walking more than a mile. If you’re staying downtown, the area near Farragut Square is where a lot of the established local coffee shops opened their downtown second locations in the last few years. Make sure to bring a bottle of water with you on your coffee crawl. You are definitely going to want to stay hydrated!

Want to spend one of your mornings in DC touring with us?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Less Touristy Christmas Things in DC December 2, 2018

The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit Washington, DC! Once you’ve gotten to all of our must-see Christmas sites, check out these less touristy Christmas things in DC.

1. Georgetown Glow 

Georgetown Glow is a massive public light exhibition. It highlights artists who create art out of glowing lights. The lights are all over the Georgetown neighborhood and they tend to be a little bit more off the beaten path. It is a great opportunity to explore a historic neighborhood. If you’re a photographer, bring your best camera because the lights here are really rare and unique photo opportunities. Even if you are not a photographer, you can come and take it all in because it is a really cool thing to see. Georgetown Glow runs for about one month starting at the beginning of December.

2. The Wharf 

The Wharf only opened in 2017. So, it is relatively new. It’s a top spot for less touristy Christmas things in DC. Since it is primarily a boat dock, it is fitting that they host the annual holiday boat parade where you can watch boats decked out in holiday lights moving up and down the Washington Channel. Plus you should stick around for a winter fireworks display afterwards. Throughout the month of December the Wharf also has other festive events like Christmas caroling.

3. CityCenterDC

CityCenterDC is an area downtown with a lot of high-end restaurants and high-end shopping. When you go in December, you will see Christmas trees, window displays, and other holiday art. Now, if you have money to spend, this is definitely an area where you can spend it. But, even if you have a light budget, just walking around and taking in the atmosphere can be great less touristy Christmas things to do in DC. 

4. Light Yards

Light Yards is located in the Yards Park, not far from Nationals Park. The first year, they brought in giant bunnies and illuminated them. In the second year, they had glowing orbs set to music. This is not something that you need to necessarily out of the way to see. But, it is the kind of thing that you could come to the neighborhood and make part of a whole evening. After seeing the Light Yards, you can eat dinner at one of the local restaurants and have dessert at Ice Cream Jubilee, a very popular local ice cream spot.

5. Ice Skating

We have ice skating rinks all over the city. If you go skating in December, they will often have Christmas music playing to get you in the mood. When you go in January or February, it is more generic pop music. People will also wear Santa hats, ugly sweaters and generally be out for a festive time.

Coming to Washington DC, and want us to show you around?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Snow in DC: how to prepare for a winter trip November 25, 2018

Washington DC has four seasons and over the course of a winter we almost always see some snow. In a typical winter the median snowfall is about 12 inches and average is about 18 inches. If you are trying to see snow (or avoid it) you will want to pay the most attention to January and February. However, it is definitely possible to see snow in DC a little earlier or later.

The question that everybody wants to know when it comes to snow in DC is: what can I actually expect? For this article we classified DC snowstorms into three types of events: code yellow, code orange, and code red.

Quick disclaimer: these are not official in any way, they’re just something we invented to try to share our snow experiences.

Code Yellow

When a small amount of snow sticks to the ground, we experience a code yellow. When this happens, kids in the suburbs will get a snow day or at least a delayed start. Kids in the city, however, will probably have a regular day. Federal office buildings will stay open and locals will be expected to go into work.

For visitors, all of the major sites will stay open with no noticeable disruptions. If you are flying in or out of the city, you might see a small delay. But, you should not have to worry about cancellations unless there’s a big storm in some other part of the country that is impacting the national air system. This is the ideal snow scenario for the typical visitor because you get to see snow, but it will not mess up any of your plans.

Code Orange

This is a more severe snowstorm. In this scenario, kids in the suburbs and in the city are likely going to get a snow day. There is also enough snow on the ground that you will see people out building snowmen on the National Mall and kids sledding down the hill near the Capitol. Federal offices will stay open but the workers will get what’s called an “unscheduled telework or leave day”. This means that they can either go into the office as usual, take a vacation day, or work from home.

When we get this type of snow in DC, most major sites will stay open. This includes Smithsonian museums and places like the Capitol Visitor Center. It is always worth double-checking on social media or calling ahead before you make the trip over there. If you are flying into town, you will probably see some delays but should not be at a major risk of cancellations.

Code Red

Even though we get snow in DC almost every year, we don’t see code red snow events every year. That said, this is the one that might actually mess up your trip. When a code red happens kids will get multiple snow days and federal office buildings will completely close. If federal offices are closed, that means that the federal tourist sites will be closed. When the weather is this bad, it can be hard to get around at all. Metro does run in the snow. However, the above-ground sections will close if there’s more than eight inches or if the tracks get really icy. The local DC government does have snow plows and salt trucks but, not enough of them to clear the entire city very quickly during a big storm.

Should you visit when there is snow in DC?

If you want to come to DC in the winter, just come! We’ve had plenty of winters in recent memory where there was very little snow. You should not plan your trips around the snow storms because you will be writing off months of the year. Winter is actually a great time to come to DC because tourism is really low so you get much smaller crowds at all of the major sites, just give yourself a little bit of flexibility and everything should be fine. 

Coming to Washington DC, and want us to show you around on tour?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Five Pro Sports Teams in DC November 11, 2018

Washington, DC is a sports town! Sure, there are plenty of monuments, museums and federal government sights to keep you busy for days; but there are also five pro sports teams in DC that you can check out when you come. There are great experiences for fans of any sport.

Washington Nationals

Baseball one of the most accessible sports to see in DC. The baseball season runs from April through September. Baseball is also the most family-friendly sport with 81 home games. There are a lot of day games on the weekends and games marketed specifically to families and kids. The Washington Nationals have played in DC since 2005 and Nationals Park has been open since 2008. It’s about one mile south of the Capitol and very easy to access from the Navy Yard metro station.

Washington Wizards

The Wizards have played in the Washington, DC area since 1973. They used to be known as the Washington Bullets. Nowadays, they play at the Capital One Arena (formerly the Verizon Center) since it opened in 1997. The arena is super easy to access. It is on top of the Gallery Place station and only a couple of blocks from the Metro Center station.

The NBA season runs from October through April with the potential for postseason games in May and June. Most Wizards games start at 7 p.m. However, they are more action-packed and the overall game is a lot shorter than baseball. This is a great option for families with kids. 

Washington Capitals

The Capitals also play at the Capital One Arena.  In 2018, the Washington Capitals brought the first national championship to Washington DC since 1992. They have played in the Washington, DC area since 1974. The NHL season overlaps with the NBA season, running from October through April. The Capitals get 41 home games with most games starting around 7 p.m. There are earlier day games on the weekends. Make sure you plan ahead if you want to attend a game. 

DC United 

DC United has been around since 1996 and was one of the charter members of Major League Soccer. They played at RFK Stadium until recently. In 2018 DC United moved to the new Audi Field, a soccer-specific stadium located near Nationals Park. The MLS season is a bit longer than the Major League Baseball season, running from March through October. But, the home games are more spaced out. So, make sure to check the schedule to see if there’s going to be a game when you’re visiting. 

Washington Redskins

For the typical visitor, football is the least accessible sport to see in DC. NFL teams only play 16 games each year. This means there are only eight home games. You also have to travel pretty far from downtown to see a game.  FedEx Field is located in Maryland. If you want to get there from downtown, you have to take the blue line to the Landover station. From there you need to walk a little more than a mile to get to the stadium. Tickets are the most expensive of all the sports teams in DC.

Coming to Washington DC, want us to show you around?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Check Out These 5 Obscure Monuments in DC October 28, 2018

Washington, DC is a lot more than the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other famous landmarks. Go off the beaten path and explore when you visit DC! These are four of our favorite obscure monuments in DC that you can come and check out.

1. Albert Einstein Memorial

Einstein’s Memorial is located about one block to the north of the Lincoln Memorial. This is a private monument on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences. It was dedicated on Albert Einstein’s 100th birthday in 1979. The statue depicts a 12-foot tall Einstein in a nice casual pose.

They encourage climbing on the statue. They even advertise a hashtag that you can use to post your photos. If you look on the floor in front of Einstein you will see 2,700 metal studs. These represent the stars, planets and moons on the night that the statue was dedicated. Also, a bonus hack for this monument is that if you stand directly in the center, look right at Albert Einstein, and speak, you will hear a really cool echo chamber. Above all, you really need to experience it in person to know exactly how cool it is. 

2. District of Columbia World War Memorial

The District of Columbia World War Memorial or the DC War Memorial for short honors the approximately 26,000 residents of the District of Columbia who served during World War I. On the base of the memorial you will see the 499 residents of DC who died serving in World War I.

Many people think the design is based on the Jefferson Memorial because they both have a beautiful rounded dome. However, the DC War Memorial was built over a decade earlier than Jefferson. The lack of knowlege about this memorial makes it one of the more obscure monuments in DC. This is one of the few places that you can come and not have the huge crowds that you’ll experience at the other memorials. 

3. The Signers Memorial

This monument is officially called the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence. However, it is often shortened to the Signers Memorial. This is located on a tiny island in the middle of a pond just to the west of the Vietnam Memorial. The off-the-beaten path location makes it a rather obscure memorial in DC.

When you arrive you can walk across the little footbridge and you will see recreated signatures of the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence in 1776. So, if you are looking for a name in particular make sure you know where he came from.

4. George Mason Memorial

George Mason is relatively unknown outside of Virginia, and his memorial stands almost literally in the shadows of the Jefferson Memorial. Also, Mason is sometimes called America’s forgotten founding father. He was quite influential to the early development of our new country. However, nowadays most people have no idea who he was or what he did. George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights. George Mason is thus credited for coming up with many ideas in the Bill of Rights. When you visit you’ll see the statue of George Mason and some of his quotes nearby.

Coming to Washington DC, and want us to take you on a tour?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

White House Tickets: How to Get Tour Tickets October 14, 2018

The White House is one of the most iconic buildings in America. Getting White House tickets is relatively easy. In order to visit the White House, you need to request these tickets from your member of Congress. Make sure to do this at least three weeks in advance (ideally more like three months in advance).

Who to contact for White House tickets

American visitors have three people who they can contact to make their White House Tickets request. You can ask your member of Congress or either of your two Senators. Every Representative and Senator has their own website, but they don’t always look alike.

Where to find the form to request White House tickets

Once you are on your Representative and Senator’s website, look around under “constituent services” or “help” or “contact”. Sometimes the page you are looking for is called “tour DC” or “visit DC” or “tours and tickets.” Since there are well over 500 total Representatives and Senators it’s impossible to say what any individual site will look like.

Once you get to the requests page, some representatives will have a form right there that you can just go ahead and fill out. Some will make you register for an account first, and some, especially the more high-ranking members of Congress, like the Speaker of the House, will make you enter a 9 digit zip code. From there, you will fill out a standard contact form. It’s going to ask for your name, your contact information, and the three dates that you’d like to be considered for the tour.

Which days to pick

This is a trip hack you should consider: pick one, and only one, date on your contact form. Most people assume that if they pick three dates that’s going to increase the chances of getting White House tickets. The problem is that no matter how early you submit your request, you will not find out if you get to go until about two weeks before your trip. So, if you only choose one date you can plan out the rest of your trip and make a back-up plan on that one date if things don’t work out; whereas if you pick three dates it’s going to be a lot harder to plan your trip, because you have to hold all of those days not knowing if or when you’re going to go.

What happens if you get White House tickets

After you’ve submitted the form to your Representative, their staff will forward the information on to the White House. A White House staff member will follow up with you. They will send you another form where you will have to fill out your name, date of birth, social security number, and other information. Then you wait.

It’s important to remember that the White House is not a museum. A lot of people want to go. However, there is a limited capacity. So honestly, don’t be too surprised or upset if your request gets declined. The best way to improve your chance of success is to submit your initial request three months in advance and travel during the off season.

Good luck!

Coming to Washington DC and want us to give you a tour?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Cheap Eats in DC: Six Restaurants to Check Out September 30, 2018

Writing about food and restaurants is hard. This is a highly subjective topic. But who can resist great cheap eats in DC? We wanted to identify restaurants where you can get a meal for ten dollars or less per person. And for visitors, we wanted to find restaurants that are relatively easy to get to.

All of the prices referenced are recent as of 2018.

1. District Taco

District Taco started about 10 years ago as a single taco cart in nearby Arlington, Virginia. Today they have locations all over the DC area. You can get a set of three tacos, a burrito, or a burrito desnudo. They also serve nachos and quesadillas. On certain days of the week, fish and shrimp tacos are served. There is also a salsa bar, with salsas ranging from mild to very hot.

One bonus hack for District Taco is that while chips and guacamole usually cost extra, if you get a meal without any meat on it, they’ll give you the guacamole for free!

2. Good Stuff Eatery

Good Stuff is a burger restaurant owned by local celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn,. You might recognize him if you’re into food competition shows on TV. The cool thing about Good Stuff Eatery is that you can get a sort of “celebrity chef experience” without paying the celebrity chef prices.

Our recommendation from the menu is the Colletti’s smokehouse burger. However, if you’re looking for something a little lighter, than Michelle melt, named after the former first lady, is a turkey burger that’s pretty tasty. The burgers are mostly under ten dollars, but it does get a little more expensive if you add fries and a drink. A useful lunch hack is that if you’re traveling with a family or a group, have everyone get their own burger and then share the fries and a shake. The shakes are delicious and filling.

3. Falafel Inc

A true cheap eat! Falafel sandwiches are only $3 and falafel bowls only $4. These are usually sufficient for lunch, but if you’re a big eater you can add a salad or some hummus for a few extra bucks. The six sauce options give you a chance to spice up your falafel to your exact taste. When you go, don’t be intimidated by the long line. The line moves quick because they have a limited menu and can move the orders really quickly. This is also a great option if you have vegetarians in your group because everything on the menu is vegetarian.

4. &pizza

&pizza makes every single pie fresh right in front of you. The pizzas are an interesting oval shape. However, they do not really fit into any kind of traditional style of pizza. Most of their suggested pizzas cost right around $10 but if none of those interests you, you can build your own as well. A typical pizza could probably serve two medium hungry people or someone who is really hungry could eat an entire pie themself.

5. Bub and Pop’s

Depending on what you order, this might break out ten dollar rule, but it’s worth it. Bub and Pop’s is exactly where you want to go if you’re looking for a true mom-and-pop experience. This husband-and-wife team (and their son) prides themselves on making as much of their food as possible in-house. It’s worth it to splurge and get the pickle and chips on the side. A bonus hack when you go is to try to avoid the lunch rush on weekdays between about 11:30am and 1:30pm. There are a lot of office buildings and hungry office workers nearby.

6. TaKorean

If you look closely at the name, you’ll see it is a combination of the words taco and Korean. Just like District Taco, TaKorean also started as a single food truck and now has several locations in the city. A bonus hack for TaKorean is that if you’re in town on a Tuesday, they do have Taco Tuesday discounts.

Coming to DC and want us to show you around?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today!Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Weird Monuments in DC Worth Seeking Out September 9, 2018

Explore beyond the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other famous landmarks when you visit Washington, DC. The city has a lot of well-known sites but there are even more lesser-known monuments and memorials. These are five weird monuments in DC to check out on your trip.

1. Temperance Fountain

One of our favorite weird monuments in DC was designed to encourage people to drink water instead of alcohol. In 1882 by Henry Cogswell built Temperance Fountain. He considered it his life mission to hydrate the masses by building water fountains across the United States.

Cogswell funded over 20 different fountains. He built one in Washington DC on Pennsylvania Avenue. Cogswell designed the fountain for placement right in the middle of the city. He envisioned fresh water flowing from the mouths of two sculpted fish. Cogswell installed a “common cup” under the fish. The cup hung from a chain and that’s how you drank your water. Over the years, cities removed these fountains as they were unhygienic and unneeded. This is one of the only fountains left in the entire country!

2. Titanic Memorial.

The Titanic Memorial is located near the newly developed Wharf. However, it was not always located there. The statue was commissioned in 1930. It was placed on the Potomac River near where the Kennedy Center stands today. They held a design contest for the Titanic Memorial. Gertrude Vanderbilt won the competition. Henry Bacon designed the base of the memorial. He also designed the Lincoln Memorial. Vanderbilt’s statue depicts a 13-foot man with his arms outstretched gazing out to the water like a ship’s mast. 

3. Freedom Bell 

The Freedom Bell is a replica of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It is located north of the Capitol near Union Station. The American Legion commissioned the Freedom Bell in 1975. After America’s bicentennial celebration, the Freedom Bell was put into storage and it wasn’t brought out until recently. Over the years, a lot of people have walked right past the Freedom Bell without a clue that it exists. So if you are arriving by train, car or bus at Union Station, make sure you stop and check this out.

4. Jefferson Pier

Jefferson Pier is a very small memorial literally overshadowed by the Washington Monument. When Thomas Jefferson was overseeing some of the development of Washington, DC he wanted to realign the prime meridian of the entire world to go right through Washington.

The Jefferson Meridian was laid out at the intersection of a right triangle. The White House, the Capitol building and Pennsylvania Avenue formed the points on the triangle. The Washington Monument was actually supposed to get built at the spot where the points converged. However, when they started construction the builders got nervous about the soil conditions. So, the plan shifted the Washington Monument to the east. That’s actually why the Washington Monument is out of line between the White House, Capitol and Jefferson Memorial.

5. Joan of Arc Statue

The Joan of Arc Statue earned the distinction of being the only female equestrian statue in the city. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl from eastern France. She claimed divine inspiration in the fight against the British in the Hundred Years War. She was 19 years old when she was captured and burned at the stake. In 1920, the Society of French women of New York donated this statue to Meridian Hill Park.

This statue is meant to show friendship between the women of France and the United States. An interesting fact about the statue is that Joan of Arc’s sword has been stolen multiple times.  The original sword was stolen in 1978 and was only replaced in 2011.

Interested in a Washington, DC guided tour?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

Washington DC Sayings, Words and Phrases August 26, 2018

Washington, DC has its own unique words and phrases. These are seven Washington, DC sayings you might hear when you visit. Make sure to study up so you know what people are talking about!

1. The Mall

The Mall is short for National Mall and Memorial Parks. This is the giant national park downtown. You will find most of the major monuments, memorials and other federal sites. “The mall” is one of the most common Washington DC sayings. No, this is not a shopping mall. If you want to buy clothes or souvenirs you will have a much better time in Georgetown.

2. DMV

When most people hear DMV they think of the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, when it comes to Washington, DC sayings, DMV stands for District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. People typically use it to refer to the entire metro area. If you want to refer to the city without the suburbs, you would say “the District” instead.

3. K Street

When people say K Street, they are really talking about the stretch of K Street NW that runs through downtown. Historically, this is where a of lobbying firms had their offices. People refer to “K Street” to mean lobbyists the same way they refer to “Wall Street” to refer to bankers. If you hear that a politician “sold out to K Street” it means they fell under the influence of lobbyists.

4. The Hill

This is one of the Washington DC sayings that has a dual meaning. The Hill is short for Capitol Hill. This could either mean the Capitol complex or the neighborhood east of the Capitol.

For example, if you’re in a coffee shop, and you overhear someone say they have to go to a meeting on the Hill, it probably means they have to meet with a Congressperson’s office (rarely is it the Congressperson themself). The Hill could also refer to the neighborhood called Capitol Hill. So if you meet someone and they tell you that they live on the Hill, they are talking about the neighborhood.

5. Beltway

The Beltway refers to Interstate 495 which forms a loop around Washington DC’s suburbs. So, if you are listening to the morning radio you might hear about horrible traffic on the Beltway. People will also use Beltway to refer to political issues. They do this by saying “inside” or “outside” the Beltway.  So for example, if you hear someone say, “nobody cares about an issue outside the Beltway”, they mean only people who really work deep in politics care about it and the rest of America does not.

6. Half Smoke

A half smoke is a sausage served on a bun that’s pretty unique to the DC area. The most famous half smokes are served at Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW. Although, there are plenty of places you can get a half-smoke. The name is kind of a mystery.  Some people think it’s called a half smoke because the sausage is made of half beef and half pork. Then, it is smoked on a grill. Other people think it’s called a half smoke because the sausage is typically cut in half before it’s cooked.  

7. Slugline

This comes from the practice of slugging, which in the U.S. really only exists in Washington DC and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Slugging is a type of anonymous carpooling. A driver will pull his or her car into a big parking lot. Then, riders going to the same place will get into their car. This group of people are able to use the carpool lanes to get into the city a lot faster.

Using the carpool lanes can make a huge difference. The driver benefits because he or she gets to drive their own car into the city. The riders benefit because it’s often a lot faster than riding the bus and it is free! The slugline is the actual line that people will stand in while they are waiting to get picked up.

Want to sign up for a Washington, DC tour?

Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.

National Book Festival Tips August 19, 2018

Every year, the Library of Congress hosts the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. It is a celebration of books, authors, and libraries. The festival was started in 2001 by First Lady Laura Bush. The first festival took place on the lawn near the Library of Congress. Now, it’s indoors at the Washington Convention Center. The festival usually takes place in very late August or early September.

If you’re planning to attend, these are four of our favorite National Book Festival tips.

1. Plan ahead

Go to the National Book Festival website and see exactly what you might want to do. It is hard to emphasize just how many people are going to be there. There are usually tens of thousands of people who attend this one-day festival. So, if you walk into the Convention Center with no plan, you’re going to feel completely overwhelmed. Wear your best pair of walking shoes and plan on doing a lot of walking.

2. Download the app

The National Book Festival has an official app that you should definitely download and use. It has all kinds of useful information like the schedule, authors in attendance, and a map of the Convention Center. It also includes information about where to go for book signings, and when you can see author talks.

If you do want to go to an author talk, it is really important to know exactly when it’s happening and where. If you’re trying to get a copy of a book signed by an author, you can either bring your own or buy one there. Now, if you want multiple copies signed that is going to be up to each individual author. After all, you will quickly discover how long some of the lines are.

3. Ask the volunteers

The Library of Congress recruits a small army of volunteers to help out every year. The whole reason why they are there is to help you. So do not feel shy about asking! The volunteers will have matching shirts and carry around matching signs.

4. Skip the festival food

The food vendors inside the Convention Center are pretty ordinary. You will find sandwiches, pizza, and other kinds of fast food. However, the biggest reason why you should not plan to eat here is because of the lines. There is also often not even enough space for people to sit down and eat. You should either eat beforehand or plan to visit a restaurant nearby afterwards. 

Coming to Washington DC for the Book Festival and want to stick around for a tour?

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