Five ways to explore D.C. without a Welcome Week program
New to AU? Here’s how to explore the District without Explore D.C.
Explore D.C. is a two-day Welcome Week program for incoming freshmen and transfer students, designed to help new students get accustomed to the city, while also introducing them to the issues faced by the D.C. community. While many students enjoy the Explore D.C. program, for others, the steep price of $100 may be too much to spend on their first week away. Here’s The Eagle’s guide to five affordable activities for incoming students to enjoy during their first week in D.C.
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian offers 11 museums and galleries on the National Mall, six other museums and the National Zoo. The National Portrait Gallery is a fan-favorite among the D.C. community and tourists, and not just because it has free admission. The Portrait Gallery introduces visitors to some of the key individuals who have shaped this nation’s history. One of the biggest highlights from the entire gallery is the “American Presidents” collection which holds the only complete presidential collection of portraits outside of the White House. The gallery was also the site of AU’s 2015 Founder’s Day Ball, a school-wide formal event put on by student government each February.
Where: 8th and F Streets, N.W.
Metro: Red Line, Gallery Place station
Meridian Hill Park, unofficially known as Malcolm X Park, is the perfect place to avoid spending money and relax on a lazy weekend─or every weekend. The park is filled with sculptures, memorials and even a statue of former president James Buchanan. The perfect way to spend the first Sunday away from home is to grab some friends and plan a picnic in front of the Cascading Waterfall on the formal garden. The upper mall area occasionally hosts concerts and other events. Every Sunday, a regular drum circle takes place from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: 16th & W Streets N.W.
Metro: Red Line, Dupont Circle station
Georgetown is known as one of the major avenues in D.C. to go for a shopping trip with some friends. Consider taking advantage of the warmer August weather with a stroll down the Potomac River. I also a great idea to head to Boating in DC’s Key Bridge House on the waterfront to rent kayaks and canoes or take a stab at stand-up paddleboard yoga at $35 per one hour and a half. After a long day of kayaking, it wouldn’t be right if people didn’t grab a cupcake and a picture at the famous Georgetown Cupcake. Feel free to get a slice of D.C. history by visiting one of its oldest homes, the Old Stone House, built in 1765 and now open to visitors for free. Another popular landmark in Georgetown are The Exorcist Steps at the corner of Prospect Street, N.W. and 36th Street, N.W. These steps, which were featured in the film, The Exorcist, are oftentimes used by locals for cardio exercise.
Metro: 31, 30N or 33 Metrobus (Foggy Bottom Station) to Wisconsin Ave, N.W. and P Street, N.W.
Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool
The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most-visited monuments on the National Mall. Honoring the 16th President, the Lincoln Memorial towers over a beautiful reflecting pool. The pool is the largest of the many in Washington D.C. The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours per day every day of the year, free of charge; however, American University students often check it out after dark.
Where: 2 Lincoln Memorial Circle, N.W.
Metro: Blue or Orange Line, Foggy Bottom-GWU station
Get a head start on that freshman 15 with a run, walk, hike or bike ride through Rock Creek Park. The 4.4-square mile oasis runs through the heart of D.C. and is free for everyone to experience. The park is a change in scenery from all of the heavy architecture that the city has to offer. Grab some friends and experience the Rock Creek Planetarium every Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. Free tickets are available at the Nature Center front desk up to 30 minutes before the show.
Where: Rock Creek Park
Metro: Red Line, Cleveland Park station