When in Washington, D.C.

Charlotte Richardson

Charlotte Richardson ’16 enjoying a chilly day at Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.

Welcome to the nation’s capital! My name is Charlotte Richardson, class of 2016, and I live in Washington, D.C., where I work as a global events planner for the United Nations Foundation. While D.C. is home to some of the most famous monuments and museums, here are my top five recommendations, as a local, for restaurants to try and neighborhoods to explore while touring the district:

1 Georgetown

GeorgetownThis classic D.C. neighborhood is filled with history and old brick houses. I like to spend my Sunday mornings at the Georgetown flea market, then wind my way down Wisconsin Avenue. My favorite lunch spot is Oki Bowl @ Georgetown. A tiny hole-in-the-wall, this local ramen house is equal parts colorful, eclectic and delicious. Other restaurants to try: Martin’s Tavern, Farmers Fishers Bakers and Chaia.

2 DowntownDowntown

One of my favorite restaurants to frequent is GCDC — D.C.’s only gourmet grilled cheese bar. One block away from the White House and a quick walk from the National Mall, this restaurant serves a vast array of unique grilled cheese sandwiches and is complete with outdoor seating. I recommend the Young American or the French Onion.

14th Street 1_Richardson3 14th Street/U Street

The sidewalks are lined with endless restaurants, bars, mom and pop shops, concert venues and apartments, but this neighborhood is also home to one of D.C.’s most iconic venues: the 9:30 Club. The list of big-time bands who have graced the stage there is endless, so be sure to see a show for yourself. PRO TIP: Make a reservation at Le Diplomate in advance of your visit; this is D.C.’s most popular French restaurant and one of my favorite brunch locations.

4 Blagden AlleyBlagden Alley

One of D.C.’s hidden gems, Blagden is an alleyway in the Shaw neighborhood that looks like it’s out of a movie set. Brick pavement and brick buildings give way to dive bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and open-air patios. Favorite spots: Calico has a great custom-built wooden patio, Lost & Found if you like a vintage dive bar, and The Dabney for one of the best meals in the city.

5 Dupont

DupontIf you’re in Dupont Circle and looking for a place to unwind and grab a cup of coffee, look no further than Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café. Part bookstore, part café, Kramerbooks is my favorite place to browse for new books and escape from the hustle of the city. PRO TIP: Evenings and weekends, they have custom literary cocktails. I recommend The Adventures of Sherbet Holmes.


U.S. Capitol Building

The U.S. Capitol Building in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Ryan ’02 and Loran Rogers ’04 Kerrigan

Encouraging Teens to Meet the Challenge

Teen gang member “James” arrived at Peak 7 Adventures with a criminal record — and a chip on his shoulder.

As part of a community service requirement, James was required to participate in the outdoor adventure rock-climbing program. He had no interest in climbing, only proving his toughness.

But James’ bravado turned to fear as he ascended a rock. He was afraid of heights, and his guides met those fears with assurance. By the end of the trip, his defenses came down. Three climbing trips later, the Peak 7 staff saw a new James, one who wanted a more positive life.

James’ story is repeated time and again at Peak 7, a Spokane, Washington-based organization founded by Ryan and Loran Rogers Kerrigan. [pullquote align=’right’ font=’oswald’ color=’#3A4958′]The program takes young people on kayaking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, backpacking and rafting trips to teach them about the outdoors — and life.[/pullquote]

While Peak 7 serves teens from various backgrounds, they focus on underprivileged and at-risk youth, partnering with treatment facilities, group homes, drop-in centers and other programs. The Kerrigans started the faith-based organization in 2006, serving 137 teens. By 2013, Peak 7 had served more than 13,000 youth. Since most of the teens cannot afford the cost, the organization relies on grants and donations for support.

“Many of our kids come from challenging circumstances,” Ryan says. “So when they do the work necessary to finish a trip, it gives them a glimpse of what they are capable of.”

The Kerrigans are graduates of the University’s parks, recreation and tourism management program — Ryan in travel and tourism, and Loran in therapeutic recreation. Loran worked full-time as a recreational therapist while Ryan worked sans salary to start Peak 7. Loran is now the organization’s sponsorship coordinator.

Clemson equipped them with the knowledge to start Peak 7, but it did even more, according to Ryan. “The national reputation of Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management program opened doors for us, and we grew as people and leaders at Clemson,” he says. “Professors took an interest and encouraged us.”

And now, the Kerrigans are encouraging James and thousands like him.