How to Survive a D.C. Summer If You're Not Interested in Politics

ByMorgan Viehman

So you’re in D.C. for the summer. Chances are you’ve hit all the tourist sites in a day, learned to use the Smithsonian for the free air conditioning, and (hopefully) learned to stand on the right, walk on the left. Now it’s time to relax. You’re getting to know your fellow interns at a local happy hour, and before you can say “Anyone catch that episode of Orange is the New Black?” someone starts the night off with this classic icebreaker:

“So, how do you feel about the possibility of the GOP turning to libertarian populism?”

What you thought would be a relaxing night on the town has become Crossfire: Intern Edition.  If you’re like me, this idea has you running for the door faster than you can say "debt ceiling." But don’t despair — not everyone in D.C. is a diehard politico, and a summer in the District has plenty to offer if you’re not.

Like many swamplands, D.C. boasts 100-degree weather and pudding-like humidity levels. So the first step in surviving your summer in the capital is to find the water.

Washington might not have its own coastline, but it does boast an impressive amount of waterfront. If the Navy Yard isn’t your thing, try the seafood and outdoor bar at the Georgetown Waterfront. You’ll catch a nice breeze from the river, and if anyone brings up politics, you can paddle away in a kayak from the Thompson Boat Center and spend the afternoon traversing the Potomac. At least the bull sharks won’t ask you your opinion on health care.

For those nights when you just can’t listen to another Hill hopeful recite his entire resume over the course of a handshake, you can drown out the sound of networking with some live music.

D.C.’s music scene caters to all tastes, and if a big-name pop concert at the Verizon Center isn’t in your budget, check out the 9:30 Club, which has everything from electro-folk to Jimmy Eat World, U Street Music Hall, and the Black Cat. If you’re looking for something more refined, the National Gallery of Art hosts a summer Jazz in the Garden concert series every Friday between May and August.

For the 21 and up crowd, one of the best and cheapest ways to get to know the city beyond the Senate office buildings is to follow the happy hours. Besides Monday night trivia at 51st State and wing night at Murphy’s in Woodley Park, the Corcoran Gallery of Art hosts a classy Wine Down Wednesday complete with half-price admissions. For a complete list of the District's best happy hours, you can check out InTheCapital’s extensive spreadsheet on the subject.

While nothing drives people apart like politics, nothing brings them together again like food.  From burgers to bubble tea, D.C. has some seriously good dining. When you’ve had your fill of Capitol Hill’s famous Good Stuff Eatery, check out some of the district’s more iconic restaurants like the historic Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café in Dupont, and Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown.

And when you’re looking to cool down with a cone, forgo the trendy frozen-yogurt chains frequented by your fellow interns and pay a visit to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Your friends may or may not be too busy stuffing their faces to discuss the current political climate, but at the very least you’ll be too happy to care.