The Coolest City in America | A Dedication to the District (Part 1)

I absolutely adore the District of Columbia, and naturally, I was delighted to see that it topped Forbes’ 2014 List of Coolest Cities in America. If the Washington, DC metro area’s weather were a little more pleasant -- say, subtract the chilly winters and add in the palm trees -- I’m not sure if I would have ever moved away.

Okay, so as a disclaimer, prior to moving to LA, I’ve only lived in DC’s neighboring suburb (PG County), and never in the city itself, but I really began to appreciate it more and more as I grew old enough to explore DC myself as a young adult. Between spending countless weekends with Adrienne during her four years at Howard, and with my Uptown born & raised boyfriend; working around the corner from the White House while attending college and then near the Smithsonian; and from having ventured into the city’s nightlife scene since the moment I turned eighteen in high school, I loved having unlimited access to this popping urban landscape that was right in my backyard.

“D.C. has a lot to offer those who call it home. Among its best features: abundant entertainment and recreational options, an ethnically and culturally diverse population, and a big chunk of people age 20 to 34–nearly 30% of the metro area’s population. There’s certainly plenty to do, from visiting the many museums along the National Mall to taking in a Washington Nationals game to simply enjoying the cherry blossoms in springtime.” - Erin Carlyle of Forbes

From its beautiful skyline vistas along the Potomac River, to its refurbished & classy vintage views in Georgetown, to the monumental sights any vantage point on the Mall offers, DC’s got as much pretty as it does politics.

Those native to the area know that its culture runs even deeper, though. More and more blossoming artists and events, young activists and entrepreneurs, musicians and music festivals, and overall local talent have begun to shine over the last few years, showing evidence that this metropolitan area breeds and nurtures brilliant "go-getter" mindsets. I love to see my city flourish aesthetically, but more importantly, culturally. 

It may not be a huge city, but it’s packed with punch, and most certainly a complete renaissance. The rapid revitalization that’s been taking place in each of DC’s four quadrants has drastically changed the city right before our eyes in just a few years; it can be considered from two sides of the coin.

One on hand, it is losing the accuracy behind the “Chocolate City” moniker this place has been known as forever. Some have said that the gentrification has pushed out its long time minority residents, thus resulting in a campaign-coated city that’s lost a significant chunk of its original soul. While seeing a vanilla sea upon venturing into certain historically black areas and neighborhoods does feel… different and somewhat unfortunateUltimately, I can only appreciate the refreshing fact that DC is finally becoming recognized for aspects other than government and violence. Surrounding the numerous embassies and in between its ridiculous wealth gap, Washington’s soul still remains. It thrives with the refreshed perspective and drive of a new generation.

Its revival has sparked passion in its people to grow with the city, to make a difference and to be noteworthy. Its made for an overall more sophisticated essence -- brand new shopping and dining areas, fantastic hangout and date spots, and best of all, safer environments. It’s providing more opportunities for young creatives to take advantage of, more platforms that encourage aspirations and actions, and more outlets for DMV residents to be oh so awwsome.

DC couldn’t have been named America’s Coolest City without these changes, and it’s only getting cooler.

Views from Washington's Old Post Office Pavilion Tower - lots of government building and monument views

The Old Post Office is now closed until 2016 -- they're transforming it into a Donald Trump luxury hotel! ooh-la-la

In honor of this recent acknowledgement, I wanted to write this mini ode to the District as well as share several iphone photos and fun things I did last summer around the city. If you have recently moved to DC, are planning to visit, or are a Maryland/Virginia resident looking for an urban adventure to close out your summer, I hope I can lend some activity inspiration!

Part two of this mini series will highlight a few cool guys and gals that I personally know who are adding to DC metro’s culture in amazing ways. It’s really a blessing to see many of my peers put practice to their creative gifts, and I’m excited to share a peek into what these individuals stand for. Stay tuned to the follow up post! 

National Monument after last year's 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

National World War II Memorial

A serene view of the Tidal Basin, peeking through to the Jefferson Memorial

My first visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial - loved it!

Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

A visit to Meridian Hill Park/Malcolm X Park - on Sundays it's home to a super-lively Drum Circle

The Harry S Truman building lives directly next to President Obama's abode and houses a secret underground bowling alley that you can only visit if someone who works there (or in surrounding gov buildings) invites you. My office took a fun field trip there last summer -- one of my highlights from working in the gov! 

a sunset from the gorgeous and vibrant National Harbor In Fort Washington, MD just seconds away from both DC and Virginia -- the essence of the term "DMV." LOVE this place!

Trillectro - a trill hip-hop and electronic music festival based right in the Nation's capital. 2013's was SO live, and I know this year's will be just as epic. It takes place just 10 days from today (August 23); buy your tickets now!

Grits and Biscuits @ U St's 9:30 Club. For all members of the Capitol Hill Trill, I highly suggest you get tickets for this too (taking place September 6). I can't even explain the amount of fun Adrienne and I had! Just a good ol' time with a touch of Down South ratchét. 

The H Street Country Club is the perfect place to enjoy margaritas and mini-golf no matter the weather. Bring a date, bring your friends, grab some quesadillas, grab some drinks, and get to golfing! The holes serve as DC landmarks and tourist attractions that you're sure to get a kick out of.

Considering a night out on the town? Here are snapshots from 3 of mine: Tropicalia live music lounge (below the Subway) + Lost Society restaurant/bar on 14th & U Street (above the Subway); venue Hopping in Dupont Circle; and Bar 7 on 7th Street -- you can't go wrong with either of these locales! 

Hands down, my favorite of all places to be is on a rooftop. Beacon Sky Bar's set up is one of the quaintest I've seen in the city, and I'd definitely recommend giving it a visit! (Dupont Circle)

Speaking of rooftops, here are some shots from my 'secret' hideaway of sorts. This luxury apartment building has THE most perfect rooftop -- grills, a lap pool, multiple seating & lounge areas, a life-size chess board, and marvelous 360 views of DC. 

No, I don't know anyone who lives there (who're probably Senators and such), but I'd always find a way to peacefully sneak up whenever I wanted to enjoy a 'staycation' on the roof with a few friends. For a little R&R without having to depart on a real vacay, it's my favorite chill spot in the city by far!

I'd watch this sunset from up here every day if I could

How adorable is this complex? Not to mention it's in the heart of one of DC's most revitalized neighborhoods


Dear DMV (And by that I mean DC and PG County): I didn't quite know that these would be some of my last moments of quality time with you for a while. Thank you for providing me with a memorable summer. Thank you for enticing my parents to move from Pennsylvania so I could be raised in the best county ever! Even though I had to spread my wings, you will always have my heart. I may even come back for you one day... 



Kristen Noelle

I consider myself a softly eccentric urbanista. I’m quiet by nature, and I’ve generally always had a mellow laid-back vibe. However, when it comes to my preferences for fun, my style, and my overall thought process, I get a bit more eccentric. I like stepping out of the box of normalcy -- but without forcing anything. I’m a thrill junkie and I live for things that get my adrenaline pumping, such as riding on top of party buses in New York City and hanging off of skyscrapers in Vegas. I spring for bold hues, colorful prints and patterns, and a relaxed look that gives effortless-chic. I like exploring new places and capturing exciting sites. I’m a creative, with a million different ideas running through my mind each day. Whether I’m designing waistbeads, imagining up new clothing concepts, envisioning my next business venture, or planning my next adventure abroad, I’m always thinking of how I can create something great. Being raised in the suburbs but not far from the city and constantly traveling, I developed a love for the best of worlds. The calm and the crazy. The easy-going and the always-buzzing. The soft and the eccentric.