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April 24, 2009

DC Metro: City or Suburbs?

Cherry blossoms I am a child of the suburbs, but I am a life-long local Washingtonian. Local meaning the Metro area, of course. And while there are those that would argue that I am no more a Washingtonian than one who calls Baltimore home, I know that it's in my blood. I am a Washingtonian. But I don't live within city limits, and growing up, it might as well have been a country away instead of down the street, because I never went there unless it was for a school field trip.

My parents grew up in the suburbs, but my mother's mother grew up in city limits. My parents grew up in a time when going into the city was dangerous, when the city was crime ridden, so to them, the city was always a place to be avoided at all costs. I'm not sure why they continued to live here their whole lives, since they hated the city. But live here they did, so live here I did, too. And growing up, we never, ever went into the city. Then I grew up, and married the son of a DC firefighter, and I've had to change my own impression of the city.

I love to visit the city, and we frequently take our kids downtown to enjoy all that is has to offer - the museums, the shows, the festivals. Thanks to all the time he spent there as a kid, my husband knows the best way to get down and get back in such a way to minimize traffic and maximize the chance of getting a parking spot, not to mention avoiding the parts of town that our kids really shouldn't be in. We feel like we have the best of both worlds - we live in the suburbs, where real estate is comparatively cheaper, where crime is a bit lower, where we have a nice quiet neighborhood bordering a lake and thousands of acres of parkland, but the city and all it has to offer is just a short hop away.

All this musing was sparked by a post on John Kelly's blog on washingtonpost.com where a family from Ashburn decided to visit the city and somehow managed to spend $100 going to the zoo and hated it, and have decided not to visit the city again. I'm incredulous, first that they managed to spend that much in the first place, and second that one experience has set them against all the city has to offer. For our family of six, we find going into the city to be more affordable than most of our entertainment options, because much of what's there is free, and with a little bit of planning ahead, we can spend an entire day downtown and not spend a dime more than our transportation down there. I think my parents did us kids a disservice by not figuring out how to take advantage of the resources of the city in a safe manner, but I don't intend to make the same mistake with my own kids. They're children of the suburbs, but they're just as at home in the city as they are out here.

Original DC Metro Moms post. When she's not traipsing around DC with her husband and four kids, Mary/FishyGirl blogs at The Fish Pond.

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