24 Hours In Washington D.C.
We first stumbled across Carl Maynard while on an 8,500 mile road trip through much of the United States. He's a talented photographer whom calls Washington D.C. home and although we weren't able to meet up with him for one of his famous "Walk With Locals" gatherings, it sure got our attention. His passion for his city is undeniable. As soon as we came across his Instagram, we knew we had to reach out! That's when it occurred to us, who better to provide a guide to Washington D.C. than a local?
MEET YOUR LOCAL
Hello, I'm Carl and like most, a transplant to Washington D.C. by way of the West Coast. I have been in the DC area for just over four years and just over three of those have been spent living in The District proper. It's a city that in many ways is increasingly being filled with folks who want to make DC their home and help make it a better place. Washington D.C. is full of heart, creatives, doers and a long line of people who are still writing their story. As for myself, I spend my 9-5 as a consultant and fill every other minute outside of that trying to contribute to this amazing city.
This guide isn't your typical guide found by googling "things to do in Washington D.C." It's not filled with monuments, nor visits to the White House. Instead, I’ll show you the green side of DC. The side of DC that makes you forget that laws are being passed no more than five miles away.
Start your morning off at Maketto – a restaurant/coffee bar combined with a sneaker and clothing shop. Maketto opened their doors just over a year ago and ever since, it’s been my neighborhood spot for a morning cup of coffee and a place to sit and catch up with friends. The open air courtyard and elevated patios help transplant you outside of the city, all while only being just a few blocks from home.
Chef Erik Bruner Yang brought Maketto to DC with a concept of #yourhome. A place to come, sit, relax and be at home. Along with all that Maketto has to offer, the team is also a huge supporter of the local DC creative seen. Whatever idea you can think of they've most likely already hosted, like Sunday morning Yoga or Thursday night run clubs. Once you've snagged a cup of coffee, it’s off for a run around the neighborhoods.
Capitol Hill Run
Just blocks from Maketto (about one mile or so) you'll find yourself at the U.S. Capitol. It's one of the best parts of DC. One minute you're roaming the classic DC streets and her endless supply of beautiful architecture, and the next minute you are staring at a piece of American history. The road here is East Capitol and for as long as I have lived in The District, it has been my favorite street. It's classic Capitol Hill DC and Lincoln Park, the largest park in Capitol Hill. On any given day, Lincoln Park can play host to endless people watching... an equal amounts of puppy watching, if that's your thing.
Rock Creek Park
After coffee and a morning run, hop in your car and head up to Rock Creek Park, a large urban park in Northwest DC. Rock Creek Park is a perfect escape to for those who want to “leave the city” but still want to be close enough to hit their local coffee shop as soon as they're done. There really is no “one way” to see Rock Creek Park. My best suggestion is to just park your car, put your feet on the ground and go for a stroll.
Growing up, just south of Seattle WA, my childhood was filled with lush green scenery. At any given time I could look up and be surrounded by beautiful green trees towering over me. Rock Creek Park always reminds me of back home. There’s nothing here to distract you from being present. There’s no antique shops. No wifi to help you stay connected. It’s just you and your desire to explore more.
Alright, now that you've had your morning coffee, gone for a run and followed it up with a stroll around Rock Creek Park, you are going to want to head back into the city and snag some lunch at A Baked Joint. Located in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood – it is the sister café to Washington D.C.'s staple Baked & Wired in Georgetown. Once here, you are going to want to order one of their open face sandwiches, which is served on freshly made in-house bread. Oh, and before you take off snag some of their house “hippy crack” granola.
After lunch make sure to check out a few of the museums, like the National Gallery of Art. Aside from its massive collection of paintings and endless gallery rooms, the National Gallery of Art has some of the best natural light ever collected in one room. Not only are these rooms composed of multiple levels, giving you some pretty incredible views but it’s also one of the best spots to people watch in the city.
For me, coming here is about seeing how people respond to such a space. In a city that can sometimes feel like it’s constantly building, tearing down and starting all over again, this place always remains a constant. It gives you space to breath and really stretch your legs.
Once you are done exploring the National Gallery of Art, head across the mall and make your way to The Hirshorn Museum & Sculpture Garden. If you’ve never been, I really don’t want to ruin it for you and would even go as far as to dare you to avoid running a Google search. It’s a place you really need to see and just like East Capitol St that was mentioned earlier, The Hirshorn has been my favorite building in DC. Trust me, you have to visit!
Ok, so now that you've worked up an appetite it's time for dinner. Perhaps to a new part of town? Or a place only open for a couple of hours a day that has a guy who makes sandwiches while only listening to 90’s East Coast hip hop but mixes in some Bad Brains and Minor Threat from time to time? As far as im concerned this place doesn’t exist in DC, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Instead head back to Maketto for dinner, because Friday Chicken & Bread is a real thing and it's something that you cannot leave Washington D.C. without trying.
After dinner, the night is yours. If you talk to anyone who’s lived in DC long enough, they’ll tell you “The Monuments at Night” is a must. In fact, it’s perhaps the best way to see them for the first time. The sea of tourists have vanished and the ability to take your time is high.
WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Washington D.C. is a city that if you just visited for a couple of days, talked to no one and just used location suggestion apps to guide you, you probably still wouldn't have a bad time, but you also wouldn't have had as good of a time as possible. If you take the chance to strike up a conversation with someone, you’ll find them more than willing to help give you a laundry list of things you “must do."
This way of thinking and belief in DC and it’s residents is what helped launch my project Walk With Locals - an idea that any community can grow from a common love of photography, exploration and the desire to get to one another. The core of what WWL has become is a meeting place. It’s open to anyone whether they’re shooting on a DSLR or just an iphone. The idea is to join along, go for a walk with strangers (who often become friends) and grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee afterwards.
The idea that at any given time, locals are meeting up, exploring their city and realizing a community for them exists in their city is a dream come true. Keep an eye for our future meet ups as we expand outside of Washington D.C. and of course, if you visit DC, let me know and we’ll without a doubt, go for a walk.
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About The Author
Carl Maynard is a photographer based out of Washington D.C. by way of Seattle. He enjoys striking up conversations with both locals and visitors, whenever possible. You can follow him while he explores his hometown of DC on Instagram, or participate in one of his many Walk With Locals meet-ups .