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  • Writer's pictureKayla Brock

East Coast Living

One thing to know about me is that I love visiting the east coast. Maybe because of its big city vibes or the fast pace, or how skyscrapers loom over the city, but national parks can be found minutes away. There is just something about the east coast.

Whatever it is, I tend to spend a lot of time visiting, mainly because I have friends and also because there is always something to do.

This summer, my dad and I decided to use the east coast as our base for our road trip. We visited Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York City. Granted I’ve been to New York several time and I was just there in April, but the other two were new cities for me.

I was excited to see DC, mainly for the food, but also for the amazing museums. We only had two full days in the city, so this is what we saw:

National Portrait Gallery: This was number one on my list because it holds the portrait of Barrack Obama by artist Kehinde Wiley. I’ve actually seen Wiley’s work in the Portland Art Museum. His portrait of Obama was beautiful in person and it was also interesting to read about the other pieces that made up the painting and how they were connected to Obama in some way. For example, the chrysanthemums in the image reference the official flower of Chicago. Being a Chicagoan, I didn’t even know that was our official flower; however, the gallery also has some amazing work that would take a full day just to fully look at and appreciate. On the plus side, it is also free.

Palmer Alley: I had looked this up before coming to DC but basically it is this alleyway in the middle of a fancy shopping district, but they decorate the ceiling. When we went it was decorated with ribbons but in pictures, I’ve seen umbrellas before and other colorful things.

W Washington DC: This hotel is gorgeous and has a huge lobby space for lounging. We went to go to their rooftop as they have an indoor 360 view. However, be warned…you can only take photos on a phone but NOT on a professional camera. From the hotel’s rooftop you get a view of the White House, National Mall and other monuments in DC.

Washington Mall: Man, I didn’t think about how big the National Mall is. As we walked to go to the MLK Memorial, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, my feet were dying. Not to mention the hot sun burning down on you. I actually heard that these monuments are even better to see at night.

African American History Museum: Wow, this museum was so detailed. It’s the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story. There were floors such as African Americans and war, music, literature, sports, etc.

Each category was so detailed and there was plenty of time spent on each topic. The museum also would have taken a full day to do it properly. The biggest exhibits goes through African Americans in the slave trade. Some of the plagues list the ships, their names, who owned them, how many slaves they took, how many died on the way, and how many made it to the destination. Also note that tickets sell out fast.

Not surprisingly food in DC was expensive, but my favorite food spot that I went to was Busboys and Poets. It’s a chain restaurant but it’s also a bookstore, coffee shop and event venue. One of the events I went to was an open mic night and it was actually a lot of fun. People were vocal, friendly, and supportive. Other places we got to try was The Smith and GRK Fresh Greek.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time in Philly so we just went to the Love Park which gets its nickname from Robert Indiana’s LOVE statue, which was first placed there for the United States Bicentennial in 1976. I also went to Marathon Grill with my friend which was a place to drink and dance on their outside patio. It was a great place to people watch and there definitely was some interesting characters.

Like I mentioned before, I go to New York a lot, but I always find things to do there that I never got the chance to do. We spent three full days in New York City.

Some of the new things I got to do was:

Pebble Beach, Harlem Week which was a summer music festival celebrating the city of Harlem, Chelsea Market, Time Out Market NY, and Refinery Rooftop which had an awesome view of the Empire State Building at night and great music.

I mainly ate my way through New York lol. My favorite spot was Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem and Vivi Bubble Tea. Sylvia's is a famous southern comfort food spot in Harem. It was opened in 1962 and has a lot of really good options. Also Vivi's was probably the best bubble tea I've ever had. I got an earl grey milk tea and I was in heeeaaaavvveeennn.

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