I Heart My City: Matt’s Washington, D.C.

Hello city-lovers! Today we’re exploring our own backyard with an I Heart My City guide to Washington, D.C. Today’s tour comes courtesy of travel blogger Matt Long, Editor-in-Chief and creator of LandLopers.com. Get Matt’s insider’s take on the nation’s capital, then tell us what you love about D.C. in the comments section below. Plus, for more great travel tips, follow Matt on Twitter.

Washington, D.C. Is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum, where the oversized air- and spacecraft are featured.

When I crave kabobs I always go to Moby Dick House of Kabob, a local chain of Iranian restaurants in D.C.

To escape the tourists I head to Wolf Trap, an amazing outdoor concert venue.

If I want to eat my lunch in the park I go to the Summerhouse, a quiet sanctuary in the shadow of the Capitol.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in Rock Creek Park.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the President of course! Or barring that, one of the many cutouts lining Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ben’s Chili Bowl (Photo: Matt Long)


If you have to order one thing off the menu from Ben’s Chili Bowlit has to be a chili half-smoke.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries gift shop is my one-stop shop for great stocking stuffers.

Locals know to skip Hard Rock and check out Good Stuff Eatery for the best burgers in town.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to Cafe Asia for their sushi happy hour.

For a huge splurge I go for a day of shopping in Georgetown.

Photo ops in my city include the White House, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol building. Walk down the National Mall to captures scores of great photos.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Martin Sheen, from the West Wing days.

The most random thing about my city is the art deco Titanic Memorial along the waterfront in southwest D.C.

My city has the most fabulous but not necessarily fashionable men.

My city has the most determined and intelligent women.


Chinatown (Photo: Matt Long)


In my city, an active day outdoors involves kayaking on the Potomac or biking in Rock Creek Park.

My city’s best museum is the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

My favorite jogging/walking route is along the National Mall at night; I never get tired of seeing the monuments illuminated at night.

For a night of dancing, go to Habana Village. Or, for live music, check out the 9:30 Club.

Pizza Mart is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Washington City Paper.

You can tell a lot about my city from what we read. Be sure to check out the racks at some of our quirky independent bookstores.

You can tell if someone is from my city if the first thing they ask you is what you do for a living.

Wolf Trap (Photo: Matt Long)


In the winter you should make your own s’mores at any of the many Cosi cafe locations.

In the spring you should enjoy the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.

In the summer you should escape the heat by wandering through the museums along the National Mall.

In the fall you should walk around as much as possible, this is the best time to enjoy D.C.

A hidden gem in my city is people watching at Dupont Circle in the summer.

For a great breakfast joint try Founding Farmers.

Don’t miss the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in July.

Just outside my city, you can visit Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate.

The best way to see my city is by boat, take a cruise along the Potomac for a unique view of the city.

If my city were a pet it would be a cuddly panda.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live (where?) in the mountains with my Huskies.

The best book about my city is: Worthy of the Nation, a fascinating look at Washington’s history of design and urban planning.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “You’re So Vain”.

Being late due to a motorcade could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because D.C. is about a lot more than politics and some pretty buildings. D.C. is a city proud of its past and excited about its future and all of us who call it home love sharing it with the world.

What you love about the District? Leave the details in the comments section below.

Want to see your city on Intelligent Travel? Copy and paste our list of fill-in-the-blank questions into an e-mail, fill in your answers, and send your responses (with any photos, videos or links) to IntelligentTravel@ngs.org.


[D.C. Guide]

[D.C. Photos]

Photo: Jim Moore/My Shot




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  2. Catherine
    Washington, DC
    January 26, 2012, 7:28 pm

    Another GREAT gift shop is the National Building Museum’s, which in and of itself is a fantastic building (and museum).

    And in the spring? The cherry blossoms are nice (but oh, hey, someone told everyone else. Ever.), but the grounds of the National Cathedral are stunning.

    In the summer, go to Fort Reno for quirkier, fun, neighborhood friendly (and free!) concerts. Bring a picnic and friends.

    And the first place I take visitors? The Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. It’s my favorite (and I think possibly the best) Smithsonian, and almost always has fewer people than its siblings on the Mall.

  3. PlethoraOfPinatas
    January 26, 2012, 12:01 pm

    I would love to read something about the local food in DC (my hometown) that does NOT include Ben’s Chili Bowl. How about some love for chicken wings and Mumbo sauce? There are a ton of great wing places, such as Wing’s n Things on Benning Rd NE and Merry’s Kitchen on MLK in SE.

  4. DCDave
    January 26, 2012, 11:46 am

    Going to Gravely Point Park in Arlington, VA and watching the planes from Reagan National take off, or riding my bike along the Mt. Vernon trail and catching the spectacular view of DC from the trail on a nice spring day or fall day.