By Angus B. Worthing, MD, FACR, FACP
Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates, P.C., Washington
We can’t wait to welcome you—or welcome you back—to Washington for the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting! Most of us locals aren’t from here, either, so you’ll probably blend in just fine. Here’s a primer on the lay of the land and what not to miss if you have some free time during your visit.
Washington was originally planned by the French engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant to include a typical grid of north-south streets (numbered), east-west streets (letters), and additional diagonal avenues named after states and create traffic circles. There are four quadrants (NW, NE, SW, and SE) with the Capitol at the center. The convention center and all but two of the ACR hotels are located in Northwest. Getting around can be quite easy on the subway (“Metro”), or via Uber or taxis. The convention center is about 10 blocks north of the National Mall and between Chinatown to the southeast and trendy Dupont Circle to the west. If you have an hour, either of those places are a quick walk or Uber away. If you have more time, here are some good options:
For the classic tourist experience, even in winter, head to the Washington Monument (you will need a ticket, so show up at 8:30 AM or order in advance at nps.gov), then walk west to the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial. Or use one of the hop-on/hop-off bus tours and add the Jefferson and Roosevelt memorials and Arlington Cemetery to your itinerary.
The ever-popular National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of American History are free, as are multiple Smithsonian galleries—see how many paintings you can identify at America’s Presidents in the National Portrait Gallery. The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture opens in September at the corner of 14th-15th streets and Constitution Avenue. Also possibly new since your last visit here: the spacious U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and the acclaimed “Newseum” interactive museum of journalism, both opened in 2008. The International Spy Museum is a must-see.
Washington has its share of fantastic restaurants you can find online—Zatinya, Jaleo, Komi, and Blue Duck Tavern, to name some—but for high-value, my wife and I love G By Mike Isabella on 14th Street with its upscale Italian tasting menu. It’s just 10 minutes from the convention center, but please don’t tell anybody else about our hidden location! For a taste of local character, grab drinks at the W Hotel POV rooftop bar, famous for its unique views overlooking the White House, or try Ben’s Chili Bowl (original U Street location or others around town) with its rich history dating back to 1958 and its links to the Civil Rights Movement in Washington.
Once it’s cold enough—and it may be cold enough at the ACR meeting —D.C. has two picturesque ice rinks: at the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden at the National Mall, and the Washington Harbour overlooking the Potomac River in Georgetown. They typically open mid-November. Eastern Market on Capitol Hill is a combined farmer’s market and art market that runs year-round. For high-end clothing and retail, cross the northwestern border on Wisconsin Avenue into Chevy Chase, where you can find Saks, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, etc. (My patients tell me these are right across the street from my office, apparently!)
Browse what’s playing at the Kennedy Center, Warner Theatre, National Theatre, Folger Theatre, or Arena Stage. Or check out the free eclectic performance daily at 6:00 PM at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. While you’re there, don’t miss the river views from the terrace.
If you can’t fit it all in on this visit, don’t worry, ACR will probably be back to Washington in a few years. You can do it all then!