Category Archives: Md.

Five Guys Fries; Washingtonion’s Best Burger

Five Guys was completely a phenomenon to me when I first moved here. In North Carolina, there were similar cheap but delicious burger joints but nothing quite compares to this.

How many fries can you stuff into a lunch bag-sized paper bag? A lot! Five Guys serves up a whopping serving of fries for under $3. Though I’ll be honest, I don’t eat beef, I’ve heard really good things about Five Guys. I go with my friends for the fries though and they’re a great deal!

Check out the store locator for a Five Guys in the D.C. area closest to you.
Read a review of Five Guys. 

How to Rent for Less, Still Walk Outside at Night

Like I said earlier, living near the Metro will often cost a little more rent-wise but so will sitting in hours of traffic in total gas and car upkeep expenditures. When moving to the D.C. area, this is a decision many have to make: cheaper rent or convenience.

Cheap places can be found in the city, though often you’ll sacrafice any sort of yard, a washer and dryer, parking for a car and much less favorably, your safety. Living in Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda can sometimes be as expensive as the city but never underestimate the power of Craigslist.

The site will let you search Northern Virgina, Maryland and D.C. and I’ve used to to find both of my rentals in D.C.

When I first moved here, I was bound and determined to live in the city but my new roommate, who had lived in the D.C. area for over a year, explained to me how much more we could get for the money in Northern Virginia. In general, I now have to agree with her.

I’m only 4 miles from the city and without traffic, can get all the way to Dupont in a half hour. Living in Arlington, I still have access to great restaurants and bars for times when I don’t feel like going into the city but all of the city fun at my fingertips, all for only $550/month (I share a 3-bedroom house with two other roommates). How did I find this great deal? Craigslist! Give it a shot.

Being open-minded is essential to finding the right place for yourself in the D.C. area. Be willing to look at up to 10 places before deciding on one; you never know what kind of deal you might run across.

Wanna Drink? Choose Happy Hour

Drinking in D.C. can become an expensive habit unless you drink six packs alone in your house and in that case, you may have a problem.

Anyhow, occasionally in D.C. some student with a ton of time on their hands will circulate a large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that lists happy hour (food and drink) by neighborhood and day of the week. That might sound obscure, but it’s true…keep an eye out. In the meantime, try this site to keep abreast of all the latest deals. While DC Happy Hour isn’t an extensive as this “mystery list,” it’ll do for now.

Virtually every neighborhood in the D.C. area has a few bars that offer food and drink specials, often with extras like free pool too! When I first moved here, I didn’t realize how much of a 9 to 5 city D.C. really was until I got my first 9 to 5 and started trying to commute in during rush hour and over lunch; happy hour in D.C. isn’t any different so skip out of work a half hour early and do yourself a favor: be there by 5!

The Merits of the Metro

Metro
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, it’s rumored, keeps the Metro cleaner than any other public transportation in the country. I agree, yet, many people still don’t use the Metro often. When looking for places to live in the D.C. area make sure to take proximity to the Metro into consideration if you plan on saving money by using it often. In practice, this makes rents a little higher, but in the long run, using your car less saves money.

Park your car at a Metro lot and take the rail train into the city if you’re not close enough to walk to a station. This still saves you more money than if you were to drive (especially during the weekday). Parking garages in D.C. start at about $15 per day, if you’re lucky.

Use the Metro Trip Planner to figure out the quickest and cheapest way to get into the city.

Eating In Fattens Wallet, Slims Body

Before moving to D.C., I worked in the service industry: hostess, server, cocktail waitress, you name it! While I loved working with people and running my tail off in a fun environment for extra cash while in undergrad, it instilled in me a nasty habit.

Dining out many times per week in Wilmington, N.C. (where I went to undergrad) was easier when I “knew people.” In D.C., I don’t know any people, well, any that work in restuarants plus it’s not so affordable to grab a nice dinner around here very often.

How did I make it by after moving here? Well, first I got into a little credit card debt feeding my habit. After that, I realized some serious reconsideration of my dining habits would need to take place.

But wait! Grocery stores can be pricey too. Another hard-learned lesson came down the pike when I decided to begin my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. Whole Foods is an excellent high-end grocery store with a special focus on organic and vegetarian food (near and dear to my heart) but it should only be visit on special occasions if you’re watching the spending.

Cheap alternative in the D.C. area? Trader Joes. Trader Joes is smaller than Whole Foods but if you look hard enough, you can find many of the same things for less.

If eclectic, vegetarian or organic foods aren’t your thing, stick with Safeway in the D.C. area for the cheapest groceries (at least that I’ve found). Living in Northern Virginia, you can find two really nice Safeway stores in Arlington: one on Lee Highway and one off of Old Dominion.

9:30 Club: Live Music Under $30

A lot of great artists can be seen at the 9:30 Club for less than $30. Though tickets to the best known acts usually sell out in a matter of hours, lesser known or niche artists can be enjoyed for less than $30.

The venue is small and somewhat prone to smokiness at certain shows but its size is an advantage if you get there early enough to get a good spot near the front by the stage or near the edge on the balcony. The 9:30 Club is one of the few venues in the area where big acts come through and perform in that personal manner not accesible for under $30 at others.

Check these other venues regularly for cheap tickets: The State Theater, The Black Cat, IOTA.

Read Bethesda Magazine’s article on live music in the Maryland area.

A Day in the Park With a Twist

One day last fall, I set out determined to explore the U.S. Botanic Garden. Growing up near Pittsburgh, Pa., my parents often took me to the Phipps Conservatory (also a botanical garden) and upon moving to D.C. I was determined to revisit the wonder that day last fall. Plus, D.C. museums are free-well, some of them.

After convincing a friend to join me in my quest, I set out driving to try to find the U.S. Botanic Garden. After what seemed like hours of being lost, I realized all to late that I had confused the Botanic Garden with the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast D.C. Nonetheless, I discovered another free hidden treasure that day.

I’ve since gone to the Botanic Garden too, also free, and really enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed Phipps as a child. Check them both out for free fun. Try the Botanic Gardens if you’re in the mood for the a refreshing, tropical experience (you can also smell bountiful herbs, scented oils and spices) and the Arboretum for a “day at the park,” experience outside.

  • Botanic Gardens: plant collections, herbs, special exhibits, walking garden (outdoors)
  • Arboretum: 9-miles of walking, biking or bus toursMap of Arboretum