14 things to love about Washington

February 11, 2014

People ask me all the time what’s to love in “This Town.” Here are a few things I tell them; let me know your suggestions as well.

1. Walking in the footsteps of giants

Example: It’s not just Honest Abe at the Lincoln Memorial, it’s the ghosts of Martin Luther King Jr., of opera singer Marian Anderson and of others who changed history here.

Martin Luther King Jr., giving his "I Have a Dream'' speech before the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. (Photo/AP)
Martin Luther King Jr., giving his “I Have a Dream” speech before the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. (AP)

2. Occasional goofiness, even in the White House

The first lady with the Miami Heat in the ultimate photobomb in January.
The first lady with the Miami Heat in the ultimate photobomb in January.

3. A strange fascination with pandas

Don’t stop the Pandacam. Here’s the newest giant baby panda, Bao Bao, learning to walk.

4. The backward running man


(Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Cedric Givens has befuddled Washington onlookers with his backward running for decades, and he’s only one of a cast of characters around town, including The Question Man, the stripper-turned-mayoral-candidate and the Sage of Lafayette Square. Or the ukelele-playing hipster in Bloomingdale who only sings in Portuguese, the harpist in Dupont who nails Cream’s “Sunshine of My Love” or the nearby brass band that plays late on weekend nights, outside the Krispie Kreme that pumps out the succulent smell of doughnuts you should not eat.

5. Free museums!

Everything Smithsonian-related — and free concerts at 6 p.m. every evening of the year at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Here are a few of the Smithsonian’s treasures.

6. A talent for making romance kind of geeky

Here’s “My love for you is monumental” and other D.C. Valentines from our readers. Three:



7. Cherry blossoms

8. Bikes, bikes everywhere


(Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

We’re not Amsterdam, but cyclists are ubiquitous from city bike lanes to riverside trails and towpaths, even in cold weather.

9. Sunrises, sunsets (amid monuments)

We’re on our smartphones anyway, so we can’t stop but capture moments like these. And these. Here are a few suggested rides. (Photo/Angela Pan of A B Pan Photography).

10. A certain smart-alecky resilience

Here are a few ways our readers dealt with the government shutdown of October 2013. Yes, pickup lines.

11. Majestic walks to work

Not everyone has Isabel Lara’s stroll to the office, but many pass by sites she captures on her Instagram feed, such as these row houses near Dupont Circle on a sunny day.


12. The passion people bring

The adage about a surfeit of valedictorians and student body presidents seems true. Committed, dedicated people streaming in from all over the nation, caring deeply about Burma or water rights or tax rates. Or food. And more people are on the way, as Washington has grown and become significantly younger in the past decade. One night, walking by the White House, I saw two teenagers staring at the residence. “Can you imagine living in there?” one asked. The other responded: “Yes, I can.”

13. Open city

As in low slung: Washington, with buildings limited to 10 stories, may appear squat compared to skyscraper-dotted New York. But you can see the sky — and plenty of green spaces give it spread-out feel.

14. The latest: The way ‘This Town’ cares about a little snowy owl

By the way, she’s on the mend.

That’s the list. Let me know what you would add to it.

David Beard is a writer, editor and director of digital content for The Post. He also edits The Optimist, a weekly e-newsletter, and has been a foreign correspondent.
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