The newly launched coach company, Know It Express Bus, provides direct service—and local travel tips—between DC and Brooklyn. The savvy woman behind the brand, that would be Shalonda Hunter, agreed to share her hometown insights on Washington D.C. to help you get to know the capital beyond the monuments while you’re visiting for the Cherry Blossom Festival on March 26 to April 10.
Here are a few of Shalonda’s favorite neighborhood spots along the U Street Corridor.
Live Music and Drinks: Old School vs. New School
Old School | Bohemian Cavern | 2001 11th Street, NW | bohemiancavern.com
Dubbed “the sole home of soul jazz” Bohemian Cavern offers the best in traditional jazz and live performances along the U Street corridor. Founded in 1926, this “cavern” has helped to put famous names like Duke Ellington, Roberta Flack, Cab Calloway and Miles Davis on the map. To date, this landmark keeps bringing in top artists and supports the local music scene with a strong hand on the drinks and good times in the underground.
New School | U Street Music Hall | 1115 U Street, NW | ustreetmusichall.com
House and indie music lovers bring your dancing shoes. U Street will leave you dripping with sweat from all night long grooving. This local hot spot has a solid list of local DJ’s (and some celebrity appearances) who play more than just the top 40. The dance floor has plenty of room to avoid any unwanted elbow—or booty—rubbing, and guests can enjoy a tasty and inexpensive drink selection.
New School | Velvet Lounge | 915 U Street, NW | velvetloungedc.com
The VL put together live music on the second floor and local DJ’s spinning everything from hip hop and reggae to house and some deep soul. This place rocks in a “grown up” kind of way while still making you feel good ordering a PBR. A must do on U Street.
DC Eats: Old School vs. New School
Old School | Ben’s Chili Bowl | 1213 U Street, NW | www.benschilibowl.com
When it comes to history in Washington D.C., Ben’s has one of the largest wall of fame’s of any place in town—think Bono and Bill Cosby and most recently President Obama. Since 1977, the Ali family has been home to the celebrated half-smoke with chili (a side of fries won’t hurt either). This is a fun place to stop in between the Cherry Blossom sightseeing and is truly one of DC’s unofficial landmarks.
New School | Patty Boom Boom | 1359 U Street, NW | pattyboomboomdc.com
This Jamaican style food and reggae dance hall is a newly opened venue on the U Street Corridor that features an artful mix of culture and music. Order the crispy sweet potato or vegetable patty and a drink off the rum punch menu. Patty Boom Boomers will enjoy the twenty two speaker sound system designed for boogieing into the wee hours.
Car-free DC: Old School vs. New School
Old School | Zipcar | Various locations throughout DC | zipcar.com
The closest location to our stop is located at U Street Metrorail at the U Street Cardozo Metro at 13th and T Street NW. Wheels when you want them is the Zipcar culture. This car-sharing program is the best way to get all around town without having to worry about keeping a car for an entire day. Chose what you want to do for an hour or more and see the nation’s capital at your leisure.
New School | Capital Bike Share | Various locations throughout DC | capitalbikeshare.com
If you didn’t bring your own bike on board, there is a Capitol Bike Share location conveniently across from our stop on U Street NW and Vermont Ave, NW. The Capital Bike Share is perfect for someone looking for a unique way to explore the town. With over 1,000 snazzy new red bikes across the city, riders can sign up, pay as little as nothing for the first 30 minutes to $1.50 for the hour to $5 for 24 hours. The key can be used to grab a bike from over 50 locations across the city. Return at any location and get excited for New York’s bike-sharing system in 2012.
Photo: Courtesy of Dottie Brackett of letsgorideabike.com
The co-founder and editor-at-large at offMetro, Lauren is a sustainable travel specialist and freelance journalist with frequent bylines in National Geographic, Bicycling Magazine and Shape. Follow Lauren’s adventures at @laurenmati.