Brooklyn >>> DC DC Things to look forward to
October 1, 2021 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Our family (wife and infant son) are semi reluctantly and quickly moving to a gentrifying DC neighborhood from post-gentrified Brownstowne Brooklyn. What are some great things about DC that you want to tell people moving there? I'd prefer to focus on the things you found great that were different and great or similar and great if you were coming from BK or similar areas.

I'm definitely slightly bummed about the move, but I would want to have some more things to look forward to that just to outside of family, old friends, free museums,free 3k, Ethiopian and Vietnamese food (I agree this is alot of great stuff). For example -- coming from NYC everyone seems much more friendly, which is a big surprise from my experiences and reputation.

I used to live in DC post college, but everyone I know says DC has changed so much, and I'm not going to Adams Morgan every weekend anymore, so I know things are very different.
posted by sandmanwv to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I need answers to this question, too - I'm also semi-reluctantly moving back to DC soon after having a requested move back to New York be denied :(.

But, nevertheless, I've been living in DC more recently than you have (and I also moved from New York) so I'll give you some of my answers:
-Easier to get out and do outdoorsy things. The Arboretum or the C&O canal are right there but they still feel so removed from the city. Local weekend-trip destinations also just feel so much more accessible, and less crowded/competitive.
-More accessible airports (well, at least DCA is)
-Housing stock is nicer. Having in-unit laundry and a dishwasher is pretty standard. Which wasn't the case for the places I lived in New York, that's for sure. Other perks, like outdoor space, are also a lot more attainable in DC than in NYC.
-Metro is more accessible than the subway for people with mobility impairments (including, in your case, a stroller)
-This might just be me, but I find it's easier to pursue hobbies at an amateur level. If you take improv or art or -whatever- classes in New York, you're often in class with people trying to make a career out of that thing. Which is cool, but makes things more serious and competitive than they may need to be. In DC, you're more likely to be around people with a similar level of amateurishness.
posted by mosst at 7:09 AM on October 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

There's that big new waterfront area by the ballpark that's a big walkable park zone with some retail, and also a kids waterpark type thing that doesn't seem to cost any money.
posted by 4th number at 7:44 AM on October 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Many of the major museums are all free to the public, no? That may mean that the weekend outings to entertain your kid may end up being way cheaper than they would be if you were still in the city and having to pay through the nose at the Museum of Natural History.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on October 1, 2021

Best answer: Happy DC resident here for 11 years and counting. Anyone following this thread is welcome to memail me with questions.

Specific things I love about DC that may not be part of NYC:
- lots of free stuff to do. Yes, museums for sure, and also: author talks, concerts and other performances (the Kennedy Center has something every day), plant walks, etc.
- lots and lots of natural spaces, playgrounds, and trees both in the city and in nearby Maryland/Virginia
- lower cost for buying a home (yes, it's always going up in DC, but not sky-high like NYC)
- less crowded in popular public spaces
- decent air quality (less pollution due to lower population density, shorter buildings, fewer cars, lots of trees, etc)
- choice of 3 airports with varying pluses and minuses (DCA, BWI, IAD)
- civic engagement: many DC residents are engaged with, or at least interested in, local politics. This is likely both because our city is the seat of the federal government and because we have no vote in Congress.
- people visit a lot -- probably true in NYC also, but I find that people especially visit me here because lots of organizations are headquartered here, and lots of national conferences take place here. Also, lots of American kids visit at least once during their school years if they can afford it.
- Embassy days -- it's fun to visit the different embassies and hear about their culture

(And @EmpressCallipygos: DC has a Museum of Natural History, too, just for clarification. It's a Smithsonian, so you are correct that it's free here. And the OP specifically mentioned free museums as a perk of DC city living.)
posted by wicked_sassy at 8:25 AM on October 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

All of the Smithsonian museums, as well as the National Gallery of Art have free admitance. That's everything on the Mall as well as the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum up on Gallery Place and its Renwick offshoot across Lafayette Square from the White House. The major exception to this rule is the Phillips Collection near Dupont Circle.
posted by Rash at 8:25 AM on October 1, 2021

Best answer: What stuff do you enjoy? That'll help us figure out what to be boosters about. :-P

The metro has almost certainly gotten WAY better since you were last here. I've started commuting back to the office part-time and while obviously it isn't perfect, the maintenance is starting to make a noticeable difference and they've committed to maintaining more frequent service headways throughout the pandemic than most comparably sized cities.

Also, the food scene has really taken off, and now that you aren't 22, you probably have the taste and budget to take advantage of it! Soooooo many Jose Andres joints to try. There's also an excellent explosion of farmer's markets all over the city, and Union Market and its environs are nicer and nicer to visit.

Our sports teams have gotten more established. I don't actually care about sports but it's nice to go to a Nats game just to enjoy the weather and time with friends, and not be outnumbered by the opposing team's fans. Plus the waterfront is indeed a cute little place to visit. I have yet to go see the Caps play but I hear good things. We do not speak of the football team.

Also, this is obviously still in the process of recovering from the pandemic but one of my very favorite things about living around here is the proliferation of events and festivals, especially outdoor ones. Like, Sakura Matsuri in the spring is the best. Outdoor movies. Leaving work early for boozy picnics at Jazz in the Garden on summer Fridays. The Christmas tree displays at the White House. Author talks at Politics and Prose. Embassy open house weekend. Depending on what neighborhood you're landing in, cool neighborhood events like Porchfest.

And SO MUCH OUTDOORS. We have such a phenomenal public lands collection! Rock Creek feels like a world away, as does Theodore Roosevelt Island. Anacostia Park is lovely and the new bridge is really cool. The Arboretum and Kenilworth Gardens during lotus season! Or even just walking/biking around by the Mall, Tidal Basin, and waterfront. Malcolm X park. Stumbling across random obscure monuments in every little parklet. Like, the scenery never gets old. Every morning on the way to work I cross the street and look over at the sun reflecting off the Capitol dome and I literally never ever ever get sick of seeing it.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 8:30 AM on October 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

Plus Skyline Drive, quite accessible with a car, if your timing avoids the traffic on 66.
posted by Rash at 8:35 AM on October 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also: all the stuff listed for DC on Atlas Obscura. I live near some of these and enjoy pointing them out to visitors.
posted by wicked_sassy at 8:51 AM on October 1, 2021

Best answer: We no longer ignore our rivers. Going from west to east (it's best by bike, but you can walk too): Come down the C&O Canal and/or the Crescent Trail. instead of a parking lot, we now have the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Emerge from under the Whitehurst Freeway and take the trail along the Potomac, past the Watergate and the Kennedy Center (now accessible from the river by the new pedestrian bridge). Pass the monuments and you'll come to the Wharf. Yes, it is a row of huge skyscrapers and a lot of overpriced restaurants, but it's still pleasant to walk around, the fish market remains, and the Anthem (music venue) is great. The Awakening statue is gone, but Hains Point (ok, officially East Potomac Park, but they'll know you're a tourist if you call it that) remains the same quiet green space steps from the Mall. Buzzard Point is being transformed from an industrial area to the next hip area, anchored by the new Audi field, where the DC United play. If you go to the bike path at the end of the point and look south, it feels quite isolated, if you ignore the large apartment building right behind you. The South Capitol street/Frederick Douglas bridge, which opened last month, is an architectural masterpiece. A little farther and you're at Nationals Stadium and the Navy Yard waterfront. Again, lots of glass towers, but the wading pool, grassy areas, and boardwalk along the water are lovely. Continue up the Anacostia River trail, stop off for a walk around Kingman Island, and then further up take the short path into the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, preferably in July, when the waterlilies are at their peak. Continue north and cross the border into Maryland to Bladensburg Waterfront park, where you can rent boats or fish. To get to the trail on the west side of the river, with Anacostia Park, with the roller rink (the only one in the U.S. National Park system, I just learned), playgrounds, and aquarium (unfortunately closed on weekends), you have your choice of four bike/pedestrian friendly bridges, including the 11th St Bridge, which will become a destination of its own in a few years, which the first elevated park in DC opens. Along the way, especially north of Benning Road, keep your eyes open for the large birds, including the now-common egrets and herons, that appreciate the now not-quite-as-polluted water. (Still, don't swim in it.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:17 AM on October 1, 2021 [11 favorites]

Pandas at the zoo.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Others have covered some of the great indoor and outdoor activities available in DC, and they're right!

My advice for getting the most out of moving to a gentrifying area in DC (I've lived in one for 20+ years, moving east with the tide) would be to be open to being involved in your community. We have lots of great civic and community associations, and it's a fabulous way to meet neighbors, learn about housing and commercial projects coming to your neighborhood, keep up to date with crime and equity issues, and give back to the area. We have family fun days, neighborhood clean ups, and regular meet and greets with our Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. If you're looking in the East Shaw area and have any specific questions, feel free to reach out!
posted by kinsey at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I went the other direction, but here are the things I miss about DC:

- It smells so much better than Brooklyn. I mean so much better. It doesn't just not smell bad, it frequently smells good, because there's simply a lot more flowers and greenery.
- Related to above: there's a lot more flowers and greenery! Apart from the downtowniest parts of downtown (and sometimes even there), DC is a notably greener city. This is positive because I like to see trees and plants and flowers, but also because I felt more plugged in to seasonal changes.
- Speaking of seasonal changes: the half hour more light you get in the winter from being a few hundred miles south? DO NOT underestimate the power of this.
- Brooklyn's got good bookstores and everything but they're not Politics & Prose.
- Mandalay. End of bullet point
- I'm naturally more in tune with the New York mode of public interaction (keep your eyes to yourself to give people psychological space), but there's something really disarming about being in a city where people smile at you and chat with you. DC is truly the South in this regard.
- If you have a car, nothing beats getting from Point A to Point B in the city by way of Rock Creek Parkway. It feels like cheating? You're in the city, and then you're driving through the forest, and then you pop back up in the city again. Magic.
- Cocktail culture, previously dire, is getting better, and in particular I really love Chantal Tseng's Literary Cocktails series and wish I'd gotten to go every week before the pandemic/wish I could go every week once I've started drinking indoors again.
- Everyone said this already but can you BELIEVE New York charges money for museums and botanical gardens? Outrageous
posted by babelfish at 11:27 AM on October 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

New York, and everywhere else... sometimes a bitter pill for the DC native to swallow. Another amenity, mentioned above: The Zoo, also part of the Smithsonian, so also free.
posted by Rash at 1:41 PM on October 1, 2021

As a WVian also in Brooklyn, I’m sorry I never met you! Good luck with your move. One thing I can say, as a parent, though, is that I believe DC is a vastly easier place to have small kids. New York is just a really hard place to raise a family if you’re not rich. I’ve lost too many local parent-friends to Washington, so something must be good about it!
posted by Ollie at 5:31 PM on October 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Saying "evening" and sharing mutual smiles with people on porches. I had *neighbors* in DC, and miss them dearly.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 6:44 PM on October 1, 2021

On behalf of my daughter who lives with her family in Silver Spring and works for DC Metro, I'll mention there is public transportation, though admittedly it has underfunding issues like so many city services everywhere.

Unfortunately, one of her children has needed the services of Children's National Hospital. They have found it to be a good resource.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:39 AM on October 2, 2021

The DC area has my favorite consignment store of all time, remix.
posted by azalea_chant at 8:51 AM on October 2, 2021

Best answer: Welcome to DC!

Not mentioned here yet, so: we have a quietly great music scene - in addition to the big venues, there's a healthy, friendly + enthusiastic underground: Rhizome, Slash Run, Out Music, Pie Shop, etc. A lot happening.

I grew up nearby, and have been in DC for ~22 years now - even w/the intense, sterilizing gentrification of the last 15 years, it's still a city that rewards digging and paying close attention. Just in the last few months, I've learned about a lecture series at the Carnegie Science lab, two big and interesting institutional surplus auction houses, an online shop specializing in DC music that delivers by bike, a tool for monitoring local river traffic that has me thinking about boating here even more, free canoe rentals, and that a Salvadoran restaurant I bike by regularly is a sleeper I need to check out.

A lot of the most interesting things in DC don't do much to advertise themselves, or do so via networks that might not be immediately obvious, but if you want it, it's very likely here. AskMe is actually a useful tool for digging into the specifics once you get settled.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:53 AM on October 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

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