News

Vendor City Guide: Washington DC, USA

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best

Washington Travel Megan Reddi

Our guide this week: Wendell Williams, 68, is a vendor of Street Sense in the US capital. He says: “As I battled to right my life and stay sober, it gave me a vehicle to support myself and live independently. The papers helped keep a roof over my head and paid my living expenses while I went back to school.”

Why I like living in Washington, DC

Not only because this is my home – I’m a fifth-generation Washingtonian and my family goes back to the 1860s in this area – but also because it is just a beautiful, lovely city that is easy to navigate and get around once you pick up the basics of the way it is laid out in a north, south, east, west grid. For a visitor, you can see so many museums, performances and nature areas for almost nothing, if not for free. Not to mention the nearby mountains and coast a short drive away.

Best for tourists

Every visitor should spend at least a day or two walking the National Mall, which stretches from the United States Capitol in the east, all the way to the Lincoln Memorial at the west. Adjacent to the mall are even more sights and destinations like the Holocaust Museum, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Corcoran Gallery, Constitution Hall, the Vietnam memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr memorial. George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate can be reached by a scenic river cruise down the Potomac, but is also a short taxi ride from Alexandria, Virginia near Reagan National Airport.

How to escape city life

Right in the middle of the city you’ll find Meridian Park (known as Malcolm X Park to some). This park is a miniature version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And from here, you can see all of Washington, DC from the monuments to the Capitol to the views of northern Virginia and the airport. Also try the United States Botanic Garden just south-west of the US Capitol. You feel like you’re in some tropical forest or jungle.

Insider tip

Somewhere every visitor to the city should go to get a feel for DC and its people is Busboys and Poets. You can get a good sense of the mix of people who inhabit the DC area along with excellent food and drink. The owner makes a point of hosting events such as open mic nights, book talks, art exhibits and social justice forums too.

Best place to eat

G&M Seafood is between DC and Baltimore off of the BW Parkway. It has what Maryland says is the best crabcake in the state, at a very reasonable price. And it is just about 20 minutes from downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor, which gives a visitor to this area the opportunity to see two cities for the cost of one.

My favourite time of year in DC

In spring DC is alive with colours and smells. There are hundreds of parks, both big and small, located in neighbourhoods throughout the city as well as on official government property. And with places like the Tidal Basin surrounded by the Japanese cherry trees, DC is awash with colour in the spring.

Image: Megan Reddi

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election
Trussell Trust food banks
General election 2024

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
Department for Work and Pensions

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know