Hey, lonely new transplant: Your home state’s namesake avenue (or street or drive if you’re Californian or Ohioan) isn’t D.C.’s only nod to your origins. Whether you moved here to be a summer-only intern or a tenure-track professor, you can find familiar-feeling places if you try. Here’s our attempt to point you to the food, nature and sports of your region.
If you’re from the South, you might like:
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
According to certain people living in the White House, D.C. is a metaphorical swamp in need of draining. The marshy, humid wetlands of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are literally swampy, covered in ponds teeming with lotus blossoms, water lilies and reptiles — but don’t worry, no alligators. The park hosts nature walks, children’s reading programs and bird-watching outings, too. (1550 Anacostia Ave. NE)
If your preferred type of barbecue and country music is of the Texan variety, a night at Hill Country will satisfy your cravings. Come for the juicy brisket, mac and cheese, and Shiner beer, and stay for the live music downstairs — which includes free karaoke with a live band on Wednesday nights. (410 Seventh St. NW)
You’d better be ready to defend your alma mater when you catch a game at Mason Inn, because 85 percent of the college football-watching clientele at this Glover Park sports bar comes to watch Southeastern Conference teams. The space can get crowded, especially on game days, so arrive early, grab a beer and find a seat in the sea of garnet and black (University of South Carolina), blue and orange (Auburn University) or red and navy (Ole Miss). (2408 Wisconsin Ave. NW)
Save brunch at this Mount Vernon restaurant for an occasion special enough to merit a virtual trip to New Orleans. You’ll feast on bayou classics — blackened tilapia, jambalaya, bourbon cocktails and beignets — to the strains of live jazz. (901 New York Ave. NW)
If you’re from the Northeast, you might like:
Union Market is akin to food halls such as Boston’s Quincy Market and New York’s Chelsea Market. Though it’s smaller, don’t underestimate it: There’s plenty of variety, including eats reminiscent of the Northeast. Buffalo & Bergen hawks made-in-New York bagels shipped from Long Island City; Richmond-based Rappahannock Oyster Co. serves oysters and clams to fill your New England seafood void; and Trickling Springs Creamery has wild ice cream flavors that give Ben & Jerry’s a run for its money. (1309 Fifth St. NE)
With its pink-striped umbrellas and waterside Navy Yard setting, this patio pop-up is straight out of a Hamptons brochure. Rosé is the drink of choice for the New York seaside community, and the garden features both foreign and domestic selections. (301 Waterfront St. SE)
Georgetown’s M Street
Georgetown boasts the old-timey charm of Boston’s Newbury Street and Beacon Hill thanks to its cobblestone sidewalks, ivy-laden buildings and plethora of eateries and stores. Take a break from shopping to feast on some Maine catch and New England clam chowder at Luke’s Lobster (1211 Potomac St. NW).
The D.C. area’s trails, with their bright greenery, lush trees and burbling creeks, can feel like Vermont or New Hampshire. Hikers can find adventure in Rock Creek Park, where the two main trails, with dozens of connector paths between them, offer room for improvisation. The Capital Crescent, an 11-mile trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring (and paved up to Bethesda), is a less strenuous option suitable for walkers, joggers and bikers.
If you’re from the Midwest, you might like:
A reflection of its founders’ home cities, this slightly dive-y bar offers the hot dogs, beers and sports of Chicago and Detroit. The peeling wallpaper, chalkboard menu and scattering of framed photos give Ivy and Coney a vibe that fits somewhere between frat house and Midwestern uncle’s living room. Either way, the late-night choruses of “Go, Cubs! Go!” feel appropriate. (1537 Seventh St. NW)
You could build a gourmet cheese plate with the offerings found at any old Wisconsin gas station. If you’re missing that manna of the Midwest, Cheesetique’s three locations can replenish your too-low lactose levels. Swing by for a meal, or pick up three or four or 18 options to gorge on at home. (2411 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 4056 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 800 N. Glebe Road, Arlington)
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, the hotdish and a special brand of niceness. We can’t match it here in casseroles or smiles, but we do have a few nice bodies of water. One family favorite is 18-acre Lake Fairfax, where you can noodle around on a rented pedal boat (through Labor Day) or fish from the shoreline. There’s a water park and carousel, too, also open through Labor Day. (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston, Va.)
Prairie dogs at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
For a real sense of the land, head to the black-tailed prairie dog exhibit at the National Zoo. There, the members of this ground squirrel species (they’re called “dogs” because they make little barking noises) frolic and eat and vanish down a hole right when you’re about to get a good picture. For a more majestic example of the Plains, check out the American bison exhibit. (Smithsonian’s National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW)
If you’re from the West, you might like:
A trip to a Hawaiian beach isn’t complete without a snack of poke — raw, marinated fish, often served over salad or rice. The dish is popular in California, too, and has recently spread to the District. Oahu native Akina Harada opened Abunai Poke in April after testing the market with an eponymous food truck serving entrees of pork and Spam. Purists might prefer the brick-and-mortar restaurant, where Harada sticks to classic poke bowls like ahi tuna, salmon, shrimp and tofu. (1920 L St. NW)
Penn Quarter Sports Tavern
This two-story sports bar attracts sports fans of all kinds, but it’s especially popular with people cheering the Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets. People used to drier climates than D.C.’s can watch the game on one of the 29 big-screen TV’s inside the bar or, if the weather is Colorado-perfect, on one of the three TVs on the patio. (639 Indiana Ave. NW)
People from Montana, Wyoming and other frontier states love this whiskey bar, which combines an Old West vibe with Southern-inspired cuisine. For frontier folks, there’s a real bison head on the wall and bison chili on the menu, and the bar is made from weathered wood from an old barn. If you, like chef David Conn, hail from Tennessee, try the catfish and grits or the alligator fingers. No matter where you’re from, you’ll feel like you walked onto the set of “Gunsmoke.” (1208 H St. NE)
There’s a little piece of the American Southwest just southwest of the U.S. Capitol. In the World Deserts zone of the U.S. Botanic Garden, you can sit on a sand-colored boulder in the long shadow of a saguaro cactus, a plant found only in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, California and Mexico. Still missing the desert? Commune with the California barrel cactus and the fishhook cactus (found in the aforementioned places as well as New Mexico and parts of Texas), or check out other examples of arid-climate plants from around the world. (100 Maryland Ave. SW)
More advice for newcomers to D.C.