Washington DC, United States
Emily, 28
Museum Educator, Smithsonian
see her Washington DC city guide

a bit about Emily

What do you do and why do you do it?

I'm a museum educator at the Smithsonian. It is my dream job. I get to take kids into the museums every day and see them experience it all with fresh eyes. I think sometimes when you live in DC, you forget about all the amazing resources we have right in our city. This job gives me a new appreciation for what we have every single day. How many people get to see both dinosaur fossils and Alexander Calder works on the reg?

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?

I was a receptionist in between jobs for almost a year. It was so lacking in creativity and variation, I almost went crazy. I love jobs where every day is different and exciting, and where I can learn new skills continuously. Never again!

Were you born and raised in Washington DC? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Washington DC?

I actually grew up in Staunton, Virginia, out in the mountains close to West Virginia. I went to undergrad in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a little closer to DC. After graduation it seemed that everyone headed up to the city to work and live, so I did it too. I fell head over heels in love and never left. I am definitely still a small town girl at heart, but that experience definitely helps me appreciate the tiny hidden things in DC so much more.

What’s your current hood in Washington DC and what’s the best/worst thing about it?

I live in the suburbs of DC now (Fairfax VA) and it's great to finally have a parking spot! I used to live in Columbia Heights right off of 14th Street, so I do miss being right in the middle of everything. But luckily I work downtown on the Mall so I still have access to it all! I love having the best of both worlds. When I'm not downtown, I spend most of my time in the city on the U Street/14th Street corridor. It has the best late night food, thrift shops, and bars!

What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?

My most listened to playlist on Spotify is all my favorite punk music. It gets me pumped for my day and makes me feel totally badass. I am REALLY not into country music, though this mountain girl does have a special place in her heart for bluegrass.

You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?

"I And Love And You" by the Avett Brothers, "American Tune" by Paul Simon, and "Needle in the Hay" by Elliott Smith. We all need some sad music every once in a while.

Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?

I'm currently watching American Gods, and it's already my favorite TV show of all time. I love the idea that places and things in our country hold power and magic simply because we believe in them (lots of that here in DC, probably). Other favorites of mine include Cosmos (both versions) and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Name some spots in Washington DC that are good for a Tinder date.

Go to the National Gallery's or the Hirschhorn's sculpture gardens. They're free, absolutely gorgeous, and there are plenty of places to sit and talk. My favorite bar is Codmother on U Street right around dinnertime. It's not crowded yet, and the music is perfect. Nothing like a punk dive to see if somebody's really down to earth.

Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).

Our president. But this already happens pretty frequently. Welcome to DC!

Who’s your hero and where in Washington DC would you take them out for a serious hang?

Yayoi Kusama is my artist crush. I would love to go thrifting with her all over the city just to see what zany things we could come up with.

Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?

Thrift stores, Uniqlo, Madewell. I used to wear exclusively vintage in my younger years, but I learned pretty fast that you need to wear it as the cherry on top, not the entire sundae.

What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?

The US Capitol Visitor Center during 8th grade tour season. Don't do it.

What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?

I adore visiting museums (obviously) but since I work in them every day, I never get to go visit them for myself without a gaggle of students. That, and going to a baseball game.

Where do you go in Washington DC for a casual night out?

Kramerbooks & Afterwords is my current favorite happy hour spot. I can pick out a new book, and then meet friends for $5 happy hour drinks at the bookstore bar. I don't have to get dressed up, I can talk politics as loudly as I want, and the atmosphere is perfect.

Where would you go in Washington DC to celebrate some freaking good news?

Brunch at Pearl Dive! If you haven't celebrated your good news with fresh local oysters and champagne, you haven't lived.

What’s your choice of transportation in Washington DC and why?

It depends. I'll be honest, Metro is terrible more often than not. I rely on it for work every day, but if I can just walk to where I want to go, it's worth the extra time because I'll always discover something cool along the way. I'm also one of the few and the proud that will actually brave driving in DC if necessary.

What are the Washington DC spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?

Visit the National Mall and Memorial Parks! Seriously. I spent a summer as a park ranger and it gave me such a huge appreciation for our national parks right in our backyard. You could spend an entire week exploring it all. Plus, it's free for the budget-conscious traveler like me.

What are the Washington DC spots tourists should run from screaming?

I don't believe in putting down one tourist experience over another. If you like the amphibious duck bus/boat ride, GO FOR IT, my friend. I love my city so much, I don't care how you see it or what you see. We have so much to offer and all of it is as unique as the rest. That being said, you can probably find a better spot than Hard Rock Cafe.

Tomorrow’s your last day in Washington DC. How do you spend it?

Brunch at Busboys and Poets in the morning, and then hitting up my favorite vintage shops with my closest friends during the day. Then at night, I find a burlesque show at Black Cat or the Pinch. For the cherry on top, I go out dancing afterwards at Black Cat or U Street Music Hall in my weirdest outfit.

What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?

Tokyo! It's a lot like DC in that there are endless possibilities and levels of things to do and see: history, culture, sports, the outdoors, shopping, nightlife. Each suburb and neighborhood is a tiny city with its own personality to fall in love with. I also just really love a place that has a 7-11 and cheap vending machine on every block. A girl's got coffee needs, you know.