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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Here’s how to make the most of your summer in DC

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer
The Mount Vernon Campus pool

Campus is emptying out, the sun is blaring down and the monuments are full of tourists — in other words, summer has begun in the District.

But not all GW students depart for a three-month vacation. Many stick around to work internships and other odd jobs in D.C., confused without their classes and friends to give them structure. If you’re one of those lost souls, meandering down sidewalks in hopes of encountering someone you know or something to do, follow these D.C. summer tips and tricks to get the most of your break in the District.

Take advantage of campus

GW’s campus is dead over the summer — a vast majority of students are home, and the influx of summer Hillterns doesn’t overwhelm Whole Foods and Tonic in the same way. It might be hard seeing everyone you know abandon you to go home, but the absence of students can be a blessing in disguise as campus becomes your personal backyard.

The swinging benches on campus are seemingly always stuffed with students during the year, but over the summer they’re free for all your outdoor reading needs. Or you can venture out to the Vool, or Mount Vernon Campus pool, and go for a dip to escape the hot sun. Enough people stay on the Vern during the summer that you might even be able to find someone to tag along, an eternally hard task for any activity involving a Mount Vernon Express ride.

Do a Metro day trip

The suburbs of D.C. aren’t quite as exciting as the city itself — that’s kind of the point of suburbs — but the more relaxed environments can provide a necessary respite from the hustle and bustle of the District.

Try riding the Metro into Alexandria, Virginia, for a day, and wander Old Town, grabbing ice cream at The Creamery right on the water or New Haven-style pizza at Frank Pepe’s. Or head north into Glenmont, Maryland, and absorb Wheaton Regional Park, a massive array of gardens and greenery.

Have an umbrella on you, always

The most infamous part of the District’s summer weather is the humidity, and there’s no reason to pretend as though it’s even remotely tolerable. But what’s lesser known yet equally intimidating is the tendency for a blue sky to morph into the hardest rain storm you’ve ever experienced.

The storms tend to be brief, but do yourself a favor and keep an umbrella by your side whenever you go out. It saves you the embarrassment of sheepishly tapping your GWorld in front of residence hall security soaked in rain.

Just keep walking and walking

There’s so much more to the District than Foggy Bottom the neighborhood, full of its corporate buildings and sterile tourist restaurants, doesn’t even come close to capturing the range of communities in the city. With extra time on your hands during the summer, there’s no reason to not try to find your new favorite D.C. neighborhood.

Taking the Metro is an easy way to get from place to place quickly. But to really learn the streets of D.C., it’s best to walk them, passing through each neighborhood and sensing their differences. It can take more than an hour to reach interesting areas northwest of campus like Mount Pleasant but with a more open schedule and nice weather during the summer, strolling is a viable option. To sojourn in the other quadrants of the District, you can stroll alongside the National Mall in Eastern Market, a northeast neighborhood decorated with ice cream stores, upscale restaurants and local farmer’s market stalls.

If you feel like going to the direct opposite area of campus and checking out the southeast of the District, venture to Anacostia. The area is rich with local and national history through the neighborhood-focused Anacostia Community Museum, and Cedar Hill, the red-roofed house that Frederick Douglass once lived in. Once everyone comes back from their summer voyages, you’ll be a regular D.C. tour guide.

Do anything and everything to get to know people

When all your friends go home for the summer, the District can be a lonely place. Who are you supposed to go on monument walks and grab late night jumbo slices with now?

Luckily, D.C. fills up with legions of collegiate interns who are in the same position during the summers, many of whom are desperately seeking friends. There’s the obvious ways to encounter them: Talk to your lonely fellows in an elevator or approach them at a bar. If you want to bond with a consultant, you could throw on a Patagonia puffer vest and wander around the Cava and Sweetgreen on K Street at lunchtime while consulting firms have their midday break. The only issue is that if your new buddy relies on charging their meals to a company card, you might have to be ready to tell them that you can’t afford uber-pricey Nobu sushi for the third time that week.

Even if you don’t meet your new best friend in the D.C. heat, summer in the District offers plenty of chances to encounter various characters and experiences. Good luck!

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