Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Randomly Exploring DC

Yesterday, my brother and I had a couple hours of free time, and decided rather than catching a movie we'd do a little DC exploration. There are tons of resources for tackling DC in an orderly manor. A few that seemed promising were walking tours by Cultural Tourism DC, the Art Around Android App, Google Places and Wikipedia's list of DC monuments.

But, for one reason or another all these resources were rendered useless by the time we arrived in DC:

  • The walking tours sounded awesome, but I didn't have time to print out the resources and get organized to use them.
  • Art Around is so cool - yet it has a few fatal flaws. For one thing, it couldn't find my current location, so it wouldn't center the map around where I was. Additionally, there's a very cool feature to filter art attractions to just certain types (like say, monuments), but that setting seemed be lost any time I actually used the map. Still, it's a fantastic concept and I hope they improve the app.
  • Google Places is interesting, but what I really wanted was something more like a Google My Maps - where I'm looking not a general view of the city, but a specific map that's been created for say monuments. For the life of me, I haven't been able to figure out how to search community wide My Maps, as surely people have made them for DC
  • Wikipedia's list is helpful, but without being able to view them on a map, it's hard to appreciate where each monument is.

Instead of all these techie solutions, we found a much better approach. It went like so:

  1. Park car in a random public parking garage (note to self: look for a garage with discount evening rates!)
  2. Pick a restaurant to walk to. We chose V Falafel - a vegetarian falafel place I've been meaning to try
  3. Discover random sites along the way

With DC being so packed full of monuments and such, it really doesn't take long before you discover something.

And so we did: a park dedicated to Edward R. Murrow (apparently he wasn't worthy of a statue), an impressive looking statue dedicated to Taras Shevchenko, the famous Society of Cincinnati including an impressive statue of George Washington, a statue of Gandhi with a small protest happening in front of it, and more.

And using Art Around, we even round some funky art - one sculpture, as you can see form the photos below, didn't exactly impress me.

It was an excellent time, and proof that in DC, you need to try exceeding hard to not run into history/art/culture on the streets.

What's your favorite way to explore DC?

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