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An Air Force Gal’s Guide To: The Pentagon

The following comes to us from Meg in Washington DC; a Lieutenant herself, as well as an Air Force wife.  Sounds like Wonderwoman to me…


Wish you were here?  If you stay in the Air Force, you probably will be at some point.  Being staitioned in DC is very unique!  Most people do not live on base, and some even commute from 70 miles away.  Because of this, there is not a very close military community, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love this assignment.  Just make friends with your neighbors and pretend you are civilian for a bit.


DC Top 8 (It’s a big city, you can’t narrow it down to just 3):

1.    Get a bike!  DC is very flat, tons of great bike paths. 

2.    Stay close to home or take the metro.  Traffic is a way of life, car rides are always a big time commitment.  One more reason to get a bike…

3.    Greet WWII veterans.  Honor Flight is an amazing program, we highly recommend it.

4.    Start running, or taunt your friends that run (see photo above). There are lots of races, but they always fill up in the first 45 minutes!  DC is a skinny place.

5.    Get out of your house.  You’re not in Minot anymore!  Go to the Kennedy Center, attend a protest or play kickball on the Mall.  Be a tourist.  Everything is here and there are tons of free museums/festivals/concerts. 

6.    Pamper your puppy.  You’ll soon notice there is an eerie attachment to dogs (think dog yoga, dog cruises on the river, etc.)  What the heck, join the cult.

7.    Drink Virginia Wine, get to a Winefest, or drive to a vineyard

8.    Get out of the city – for your sanity.  Try Shenandoah, Harper’s Ferry, Annapolis, or even Delaware seashore.  For a weekend take the Megabus or the Boltbus: $20 to NYC or Philly, plus it’s very clean with free wifi on board.   



I can’t really touch this one because there are tons of options! Really, really think about the commute, and then think about it again.  Some people take Amtrak train 4 hrs a day, I chose to bike 4 miles a day.

  • On Base: Bolling AFB is the best choice, brand new housing.  If you choose to live on Bolling AFB, get ready to homeschool!
  • Renting: Craigslist is your best friend
  • Buying: Beware this area is very expensive.  However, the US Capitol isn’t moving anytime soon, so it’s pretty low risk.

How to decide where to live—Big, Close, and Cheap:  Pick 2.  We chose close and cheap.  The options can be overwhelming, so take some time to figure out what’s important to you.  Be aware that you’ll pay a premium for living ‘Right Next To The Metro’.  We live 1.2 miles away, which turned out to be much more reasonable.

Generally, those without kids or have young kids RENT and live “inside the beltway” or live on base.  Those with older kids live “outside the beltway” and BUY for the better schools (Fairfax, Oakton, etc)

My recommendation: live in Del Ray.  We love it!

Consider Going Car-less

The Metro and busses are excellent, I know many people without cars who just use Zipcars for special errands.

Where to Get What You Need

For Groceries/services: Commissary beats all, for others…stay close!  We generally stay within 3 miles to avoid traffic/headaches/wearing out the horn. 

For shopping:  Henderson Hall has a great PX, I shop online (again, to avoid traffic) or outlets.

Eating Out

  • Barack & Michelle’s favs:  Ben’s Chili Bowl, Dairy Godmother, Ray’s Hell Burger, Good Stuff Eatery

  • Quintessential DC:  Five Guys, Potbelly Sandwiches

  • Special Occasion:  Thai Basil, Tabard Inn, Founding Farmers

  • THE BEST MEXICAN:  Los Tios, go for the big margarita

  • Other Favorites: 

    Murphy’s ($10 champagne brunch)

    Rock It Grill (for karaoke fiends)

    Kabob Palace (the BEST kabobs, yummm..)

    The Italian Store (BEST NY style pizza…get Nino’s)

    Gtown Cupcake (go during the week to avoid crowds)

    Luna’s Grill (breakfast all day, what’s not to love)

    Other stuff to know

    1.  There are no “family days,” the Pentagon stays open the day after Thanksgiving. Military may work long hours, but usually 8-5.

    2. Get smart – There are tons of colleges in the area.  George Mason and University of Maryland College Park are the best and most affordable.

    3.  If you’re a civilian spouse, go to the Pentagon only once.  That way you can say you’ve seen it, the largest office building in the US (woo!  It’s exciting…)  Make sure to take the metro, go with a military member, be ready for long lines, and bring 2 forms of ID.  The best part is the 9/11 Memorial outside.  Inside, get a manicure and eat Panda Express.  Just to say you’ve done it.

    There are many military bases in the area. I recommend living close to one, for convenience.   Enjoy being stationed at the Pentagon!


  • Have some Pentagon info you would like to share?  Post a comment.

    Contact me if you would like to do a full profile on your base.


    Article publié pour la première fois le 04/07/2010

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