Avoid spring breakers in Washington, D.C., with these 10 tips


April showers bring May flowers, and the flowers (cherry blossoms to be exact) bring hordes of tourists and the worst people of all: spring breakers.

Is there anything worse than the selfie generation rolling up with their filters, hoverboards and tank tops? No. So here is how to have a wonderful D.C. vacation without being stuck behind sorority sisters taking yet another family pic in front of the White House.

National Archives #pkpics2017

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1. Avoid the National Mall like it's your job.
I know, you probably came to D.C. to stare at old buildings and museums. But so did everyone else. If you don't want the crowds and angst of young adults, save yourself the trouble and explore the real D.C. Start your day at the National Archives, which are beautiful and a bit out of the way.

2. Looking for a party? Stick to 18th street.
Stay far away from Georgetown and H Street during spring nights. Head up 18th street and pick from dozens of bars. Catch a live set at Roofers Union on Friday nights where the vibe is relaxed and quiet-ish.

3. Don't shop where you can buy an "I love D.C." shirt.
But how will people know you went to D.C.? By shopping local, you'll be a way more authentic traveler. Head to Glen's Garden Market for some affordable local beer and Salt and Sundry for all your homeware needs. Salt and Sundry also hosts special events with local bartenders and chefs, so check out the calendar before you stop by.

Floating specks of stardust #lightyearsaway #in20seconds #yayoikusama #infinitymirrors

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4. Book tickets to the Hirshhorn ahead of time.
This spring's "it" exhibit is Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn. Even on a slow day, you can expect to wait hours to take your picture in the mirror displays. But outsmart all those procrastinating college students by reserving your timed pass ahead of time on the museum's website. They only do limited "day of" passes, so a little foresight will save you a large headache. (This exhibit will run until May 14, 2017).

5. Seek the lesser-known monuments by day.
See my first point about avoiding the mall if you want to avoid spring breakers. But instead of hitting the Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington, why not explore the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial or National Cathedral? These two are a bit out of the way, but you'll enjoy a piece of history and peace and quiet.

6. Tour the main monuments at night.
While all those college kids are out getting lit, take a lazy tour of the lit monuments. You'll avoid the crowds and have a nice moment to genuflect on the foundation of our nation. I recommend a nice walk from the Lincoln to the Washington, where you can catch the Korean and Vietnam memorials en route.


7. Don't do the zoo on the first day of spring.
It seems like such a good idea, it's a nice spring day, there is a baby panda — but instead, it is a zoo (within a zoo) with locals and spring breakers. Just don't. Instead, take a hike in Rock Creek Park and commune with animals in their natural habitat.

8. Stay away from the Fashion Centre in Pentagon City.
It is so tempting to take the metro back to your Airbnb in Arlington and just hit the mall food court for dinner. Do not do this! I repeat: do not do this. A) You have all these chain restaurants at home and B) this and all malls are teeming with youths. If you want to shop, I recommend the internet, and as for dinner, be an adult and make reservations at Old Ebbitt Grill for an iconic D.C. dinner.

9. Skip Georgetown Cupcake and hit Sprinkles instead.
Yes, Georgetown Cupcake was on Food Network and your mom probably talks about it all the time. It's very good. It's also swarmed 99.9% of the time. Go a block away, get an equally large and delicious cupcake from Sprinkles and continue your day.

10. Download a food delivery app.
Still can't handle the spring breakers? Make like the locals and hole up in your hotel room and order Ben's Chili Bowl on Uber Eats for local flavor without leaving your bed.


Kirsten Ballard has lived in D.C. for the past two years, she works at a newspaper association and spends her weekends running and eating her way through the city.