Nothing drives me crazier than being at home for extended periods of time. Even spurts when I’ve been home for maybe three weeks start to make me anxious. So you must understand how less than excited I was (and am) to be home for a few months before packing up and moving west.
I do try to make the most of being home, mainly spending time with my friends I don’t get to see as often, racking up free meals from my parents and grandparents, attempting to catch up on sleep (and Netflix) and hitting bootcamp every morning (well, not every morning) with my dad. However, with most of my friends gone off on travels or beginning their new adventures in the ~real world~ and my brother studying abroad (yes, again), it’s been awfully quiet around here — maybe a little two quiet. I think this really shows in the lack of acitivity on my personal Instagram.
Heading down to Bonnaroo for a weekend and later to Sea Island in Georgia (lmao how I thought I was going to SE Asia but ended up in SE USA) definitely did help to ease my nerves. Now, I’ve been home for almost six weeks and things are moving more swiftly as we get closer and closer to moving.
I try to take advantage of being home in doing some of my favorite things and eating at my favorite places. While DC is far from my favorite city, there are some hidden gems here and there (and I wrote about some of those things two summers ago). Being over 21 has definitely helped; however, I’ve been a bit of a hermit and have not been even trying to go out most nights. Need to save my stamina for The Marina and the other festivals I’m going to this summer.
I could not have been more excited for SoulCycle to land in DC just three summers ago. After becoming a (wannabe) avid spinner in LA, I was excited to take on the bikes in DC. I went to a class in West End with my brother the week their doors opened and ended up in Natalia’s class. It must have been fate since then because there is nothing more I love coming home to.
Natalia’s class is definitely worth the rage, and the drive into DC in rush hour on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (and some Wednesday nights) is sooooo worth it the second I walk in the door and get clipped into my bike as I am eagerly greeted by Natalia’s smiling face and warm welcome. She always knows what you've been up to and if something has changed (like when I come home with a nose ring or blue hair).
Her class will kick your butt, but she’ll always be there to shout you out or give you that extra push (all while always playing your favorite songs!!). At just over six months pregnant, she makes sure to keep the intensity up in each and every class (could it also be possible that her classes have gotten harder since she got pregnant? Or maybe I've been away for too long...). I do wish she made it out to Bethesda more, but I will always be down to hit West End!
There is nothing better than hitting a Nats game on a summer afternoon or evening in DC — unless it’s as hot as Hell or pouring rain. I always try to go to a game or two when I’m home in the summer. I don’t care too much about baseball and can probably only name three players on the team, but they are still so much fun.
Tickets are mad cheap if you buy nose bleeds, and you can very easily sneak into better seats down below. This is definitely a ton of fun to do with a group of friends and a couple drinks. The Bullpen is a ton smaller this year, and I have yet to step in, but I’m sure it’s still very fun for pre- and post-Nats game activities. Plus the stadium is spectacular and the best food selection (Shake Shack AND Ben’s Chili Bowl?? I’m there).
Lunch at Bodega
If you know anything about me and my friends at home, you know we L O V E tapas (the food…not the other one my school friends joke about…). One of the best places to hit (besides La Tasca) is Bodega right on M Street in Georgetown. The restaurant is well decorated and cozy, almost always offering immediate availability when you walk in.
We usually order the same six or seven dishes whenever we get tapas, but Bodega really hooks it up with incredible, rich flavors. We always make sure to get some mix of: chicken croquettas, patatas bravas, gambas, bacon-wrapped dates, calamari, steak. etc. Always make sure to get the aoili on the side.
The location is perfect because you are smack dab in the middle of Georgetown and can do a little shopping or grab dessert afterwards.
Oh, and don’t forget to order SANGRIA!
Dinner at Cava Mezze
Whenever my grandparents want to go to dinner and let me pick the spot, Cava is my #1 choice. Now, I am not talking about Cava Grill, which many of you may know as the Mediterranean-version of Chipotle (shoutouts DAB$). Cava Mezze, however, is a Mediterranean mezze jaunt (think: Greek tapas) with the most insanely delectable menu on the planet.
My grandparents and I always devour way too many dishes than we need. I always make sure to eat light on days I’m hitting Cava because you need to come hungry (or maybe not, idk). They are always changing up different items (like the mac n cheese, which they change every 18 months or so) and are so cooperative to any requests. Some of my favorite dishes include a combo of the following: mac n cheese, mini pitas, zucchini fitters, falafels, Crazy Feta hush puppies, grilled haloumi, fried saganaki, spanakopita, chicken souvlaki — just to name a few. I always make sure to throw some harissa spread on each piece of food.
If you live in the DMV and you have not been here, you MUST make a trip in — or even if you’re just visiting. It is hands down my favorite restaurant at home, and I do not mean this lightly.
Dessert at Milk Bar
Again, if you know me, you know how much I love Milk Bar. It hurts my heart every day that DC got a Momofuku and Milk Bar before both LA and SF (even if I can order online, but I can't just drop that coin). I could care less for the food at Momofuku (go to a real ramen bar), but I could eat Milk Bar every day (if calories were air, but you get the point).
Any day I spend in DC for an extended period of time — so, longer than Soul — is topped off with a stop at Milk Bar, even if I really am stuffed from a meal and probably do not need it. What is better, though, than biting into a perfect b'day truffle??? Nothing, that’s what. I can always be spotted leaving with multiple three-packs of truffles in my bag and a Birthday Cake shake in hand (this is the ultimate hack there because they put a whole truffle in the shake. Amazing, I know). And for someone who really hates milk, I love sampling the newest Cereal Milk flavor.
If you’re lucky enough to end up at Milk Bar on a day they do their Cake Walk, and no one else shows up, they’ll give you a free cake. You’re welcome.
Not Tourist but Visual Thirst Traps
United States Botanic Garden
One of my most favorite places in DC is the Botanic Garden. I used to feature plants a lot in my artwork so venturing into the Gardens for me is like a kid in a candy store. The energy is INCREDIBLE here — the space is so clean and open, and you feel like you’ve been whisked away to a mystical land.
They feature different plants inside and outside, but I think the inside portion is where the magic happens. There are various rooms filled with beautiful different species. The lighting is perfect in the daytime, also, helping you find that zen a little more easily.
Grab a couple friends and make your way through. (Also, this is a really great spot for some Instagram content!!!!)
National Gallery of Art
Growing up, my favorite field trips were to the National Gallery. Between the East and West Buildings and Sculpture Garden, visitors are flooded with some of the greatest works to ever be created. The gallery itself is so unique and exciting to be in.
The West Building hosts the “older” workds and features pieces from the classic greats — think: Rembrandt, da Vinci, Monet, etc. The East Building features the "newer” and more modern pieces from artists like: Picasso, Calder, Rothko, etc. While I am a bigger fan of the East Building, the West Building is still amazingly beautiful.
You can easily wander through the buildings with no plan or get one of the audio guides (which is lowkey very informative and helpful). They also have bomb gelato.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Slightly newer than the NGA, the Hirshhorn Museum hosts an incredible collection with many rotating exhibits. I’ve only been here once and the exhibit I wanted to see was closed. However, we still mazed through each floor carefully curated with more modern and contemporary works.
The collection and exhibits bring such a fresh batch of pieces that would be easily passed by by those less appreciative of art. Definitely still very much worth the visit.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Free (Timed Entry Passes)
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is probably the newest addition to the Smithsonian portfolio. The building is outstanding from the outside and inside, and the curation and careful attention to detail as you wander through each floor is incredible.
We went during winter break, which was rough considering it was PACKED — meaning we could only get through the bottom portion. You are whisked down an elevator down a few floors where you enter a very dark, cramped space with history beginning at the early roots of slavery. Each floor you ascend upon covers each piece of the story so well — and the space begins to open up more and more. At the top (mind you, this is just of the bottom portion of the building), you feel this rush of hopefulness and excitement as you wander through more modern parts of history — like Barack Obama becoming President. It’s just so uncomfortable leaving because you remember who our current President is.
I am really trying to get back to NMAAHC before the summer is over to see the top portion. This is probably one of the, if not the, best Smithsonian museums by far. If you want to go, I would highly recommend waking up at 6:30 AM on the day you want to go and reserving tickets online.
Gorillaz at Merriweather Post Pavilion
One of the acts I was dying to see at Outside Lands this year — even if they have the most terrible lineup I ever did lay my eyes on — was the Gorillaz until I found out the day lineups and decided I will probably only go on Saturday, which they are not playing on. I was extra crushed considering how much fun I had last year.
Alas, I realized that they will be bringing their headlining tour to Maryland’s iconic (actually, is anything in Maryland iconic??) Merriweather Post Pavilion, with openers Vince Staples and Danny Brown. I think Demon Days will forever be one of my favorite albums, and I really want to see how they do their live show. Besides, Vince’s new release Big Fish Theory is one of the craziest albums, and I would love to see him in addition to seeing him at Bumbershoot in September.
Summer shows at Merriweather are sooooo fun no matter where you end up sitting. I’m so sad I missed The xx there this year (I’ll suffice after seeing them at Coachella twice and Bonnaroo) and haven’t been in three or so summers, but I am sure it is still a great time. Also would be so down to see Hans Zimmer there later in the week if I didn't have free tickets to Kendrick (don't worry, I'm only going for Travis Scott, then I'm leaving!).
Moonrise Festival at Pimlico Race Course
I keep (half) joking that Lady Gaga is ruining my life. TLDR: She’s playing in SF the weekend of OSL…which also happens to be the same weekend as Moonrise. I’ve never gone to Moonrise because I’m usually not home nor free, but I was very down to go this year until I realized the weekend. If Gaga wasn’t playing, I’d 110p skip OSL and come back for Moonrise.
Anyways, Moonrise is this random, slightly niche festival because most people have never heard of it, but they always have the best lineup and DJs love playing it. They always announce the lineup in phases which has been prolonging my anxiety and FOMO — especially when they announced that a duo that has never played in Maryland ever before together was going to do a very special performance. And that duo is Dillstradamus. F M L. (They also have one more headliner to announce)
If I were going, however, or if Gaga moved her show, here are the artists I would see (in no particular order — *notes priorities):
- Hippie Sabotage
- Jai Wolf
- Louis The Child****
- Shiba San**
- Chet Porter
- Sweater Beats
- Big Gigantic
- Flux Pavilion
- Porter Robinson (confirmed Worlds set !!!)******
- RL Grime**********
- Run the Jewels******
- Yellow Claw*******
- Zeds Dead*****
- Ganja White Night
So ya basically everyone I love is playing, and I’m gonna be cold in SF.
The way I look at this summer is as a mental vacation. I figure I won’t be getting this amount of down time with almost nothing to do ever again in my life — well, not any time soon, at least. I’m excited to do my favorite things one last time before I gather my life and officially never live here ever again!