Hamlet thought he was asking the question when he spoke his famed words, "to be or not to be." No offense to Hamlet or William Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe (if you choose to read one too many a conspiracy theory), but I wholeheartedly disagree. Why? The question that has consistently racked my brain and has had me baffled for about a decade is one that I actually get asked fairly often. When is the best time to visit Washington D.C.? "Anytime," I normally say. D.C. is a little like Paris. It's always a good idea. There isn't a month that ever suffers from even a sporadic lull.
As a new year sneaks in, it is time to scurry into the Spy Museum. Ever wanted a taste for espionage? Go ahead, it's okay to admit it. I've seen the James Bond movies too. And it is quite possible to live out your childhood fantasies because every year in January (usually towards the end), the Spy Museum holds an annual Spyfest where you can gain access to a slew of select tasks. Though some of the activities over the years have been gearing towards a younger audience, you can still enjoy workshops, screenings, meeting with former spies, and getting your hands dirty with some of the latest intelligent technology.
Spy Museum: 800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004, Tickets Available from $15 - $40
While some may think of Valentine's Day as a mess of warm, bubbly romantic feelings, I normally see it as the perfect excuse to eat more chocolate and red velvet-based sweets than I want to admit. So think of February as the perfect time for a cupcake hunting tour. Station yourself first at Georgetown Cupcakes and order the Valrhona Chocolate. It is just as rich as it sounds and the hot pink bubble gum frosting is neatly and generous piped. Afterwards, shoot for the Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcake from Sprinkles. It's so scrumptious, you can't help but want s'more (pun unabashedly intended). Want a little break? Target the Big Ass Conversation Cookie (yes, that is the actual name) from Baked and Wired. This heart shaped saccharinely sweet sugar cookie tastes like an innocent dose of sugar but has cheeky messages iced onto it that would make even the waiters at Dick's Last Resort cringe.
Georgetown Cupcakes: 3301 Main Street NW, Price: $3.25
Sprinkles Cupcakes: 3015 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007, Price: $3.50+
Baked and Wired: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007, Price: Varies
Towards the end of March, it is time for the Cherry Blossom Festival (which I'm sure you've already heard of). Imagine a baby pink hue lacing around a stark blue basin. Doesn't that sound serene?
Hopefully, The Bard won't detract my invitation to his ultimate birthday bash for my former Marlowe comment (Mr.Shakespeare, I am truly very sorry). In the worst case, I'll have to be a party crasher since every year, Folger celebrates his birthday in a true Elizabethan fashion. Try your hand at crafts and watch in awe at the stage combat demonstrations. But the highlight is the live performance by the Reduced Shakespeare Company followed by laugh-out-loud renditions of Shakespeare's most famous plays. And there is cake...did I mention that?
Folger Shakespeare Birthday: Date: April 24th, Location: Capitol Hill, Price: FREE
If you have ever wanted to see a Tibetan folk performance, passively experience Muay Thai Kickboxing, or learn bhangra meets belly dancing moves, then this is the place. The bustling energy and peppered smell of fried food rolls throughout the center of D.C in The National Asian Heritage Festival, a fantastically displayed ode to Asian Heritage month.
The first part of the Folklife Festival that grabs your attention is the narrow focus. Every year, Smithsonian chooses a theme based on a country or a town or a region and blows it into a full-on educational festival. Yes, it is a lot of fun. You get to experience first-hand traditions and rituals that you have never heard of before. You also get to try specialized local food. It's a unique opportunity to travel to a small far-off place without leaving any comforts.
It's time for Independence Day! Woooh! Be sure to catch the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue. Then, prepare to see the fireworks. As a former local, I'm going to tell you a secret. The best viewing location is the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill. Be sure to sure to prop your outdoor chairs and grab an early spot because it is about to get very crowded.
Supreme Court Address: 1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543
By now, you probably know that I have a food fetish. So it should be no surprise that in August, I chose Washington D.C.'s Restaurant Week as the main highlight. A chance to sample all of D.C.'s best restaurants at much more affordable prices? Yes, please.
I really hope Freedom Week becomes an annual tradition at the Newseum. It kicked off for the first time last year and was a strong testament to the power of journalism and the press. Regardless, every September, the Newseum always seems to be flooded with more presentations and special exhibits than usual, so be sure to opportunize on this ideal time to visit.
Newseum: 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, Price: $14-$23
Close your eyes. Imagine soft piano music and the aerie reverberations of the violin. That is the sound that resounds throughout the concert hall of the National Symphony Orchestra. A stage of live classical music. If you feel a little hungry post-concert, savor some ribs from the Roof Terrace Restaurant.
Kennedy Center for Performing Arts: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
November is a great time for bookish thoughts so visit the Library of Congress. And no expedition to DC is complete without a trip to the National Book Festival (held September 2016). This festival is essentially a comic con for book lovers. You get to meet your favourite authors and listen to their often quite-fascinating narrative-based talks. And if you are a die-hard fan willing to battle lines, try to get your very own book signed as well.
National Book Festival: Library of Congress (101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540), Price: FREE
The first thing you should do to kickoff Christmastime festivities is visit the zoo. The National Zoo strings an ornate set of lights around the entrance and scatters more throughout the park. Get into the wintery groove with some hot chocolate and mulled cider, gently sipping your drink as you stroll around, admiring the animals. If you have some extra time on your hands, visit the National Tree, a brilliantly lit spectacle that towers across from the White House. It's the splendid way to close out the year, but I also spy a few events coming just around the corner.
National Zoo: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, Price: FREE
This article originally appeared in Passport to Eden on June 4, 2016