D.C.'s Guide to Pokémon Go | The Washington Center

D.C.'s Guide to Pokémon Go

I never thought the day would come, but on Monday I caught a Squirtle at the NOMA station. I named him Gilbert. If there wasn’t a character limit, I would’ve dubbed him Sir Gilbert W. Thompson, Topographer. Why? Don’t worry about it. How’d I catch a Squirtle? Read on, friend. Read on.



On July 6, Nintendo and Niantic launched a free augmented-reality Pokémon game that hit this country like a flock of Canadian Geese hits a 747. Millions of people, myself among them, are now caught in a blinding, swirling, messy frenzy of Pokémon glory. It’s already got more active users than Twitter, Snapchat and Tinder.

I can’t walk down the street without seeing someone flick a virtual pokeball. Just yesterday, some kids mistook me for a Charmander and chased me around the block. Add that to the list of #RedHeadGrievances. I guess there’s worse things you could be mistaken for.

Lookin’ at you, Snorlax.

What fascinates me most about Pokémon Go, and why I feel it should feature on these TWC blogs at least once, is the way it is bringing random strangers together. Parks that are usually empty are now full of people having fun, making friends and catching Pokémon. People who would normally never interact are teaming up to take on gym leaders. It’s pretty cool.

I think it’s particularly well-suited for D.C. as well; monuments, points of interest, parks, memorials and restaurants are all clustered together here, like melted Skittles on a hot day. Pokémon Go uses these spots as places to lure Pokémon and battle other players, so the more the merrier.

On a more serious note, amid all the violence, and the protests, and the tragedies that have plagued our country recently, this silly little game is really doing something special – at least in this blogger’s humble opinion.

Want some proof? Here’s Justin Bieber watching a crowd of New Yorkers chase after a Gyarados instead of him. His entourage has literally no idea what’s going on.

Picture courtesy of Cosmopolitan. Phenomenon courtesy of Japan.


People are speculating as to how long the Pokémon Go craze will last, with some saying it’s a flash in the pan, soon to become another Words with Friends, or flat-out disappear like Taylor Hicks. I disagree. While I think its current popularity is probably unsustainable, Pokémon Go and its inevitable copycats are here to stay. Mobile app developers don’t live under rocks – they live on their phones. You better believe they’re itching to get in on this goodness.

It isn’t long now before the summer TWCers depart and the fall students roll on in. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a neat little list of D.C. Pokémon-hunting knowledge below, and I’m willing to give it away for free, under one condition – if you catch a cool Pokémon, name it after me.

Nay, name it after Gilbert. Rest in peace, you topographical virtuoso.

Okay, equip your safety goggles and strap on those elbow pads, 'cause Hurricane Nerd Knowledge is about to touch down. If you aren’t playing Pokémon Go, some of this may be hard to follow.

Nerd Knowledge, I Choose You

1. The Washington Monument is a Pokémon goldmine. It’s encircled by Pokestops which are lured up almost every evening, and it's flanked on two sides by the National Mall, which means lots of grass for Pokémon to hide in.

2. There’s this little park right next to the Canadian Embassy that’s a must-visit. There’s three Pokestops clustered within it, and a fourth just down the street that pumps out pokeballs.

3. Virtually every Metro stop in the city has some particularly good Pokémon, if you hang around for a few minutes.

4. Riding the Metro does not count towards the steps that hatch your eggs. I apologize for being the bearer of bad news.

5. Right outside the RAF, around happy hour, T.D. Burger, Indigo and the church across the street are all Pokestops and lured up pretty much every night. Lures stack, and their radius is bigger than the Pokestop’s, so that means you can sit outside one and benefit from all three. It’s great.

6. The White House is a Pokémon Gym and the guy who lives there hasn’t realized it yet, so it’s pretty much open season down at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

There you have it, folks. I’m spent. I hope this has been helpful. I’ll now leave you with one last piece of advice: please pay attention to where you are. Two guys in California walked off a cliff while playing Pokémon Go last week. Luckily, there aren’t any cliffs in D.C., but there are lots of cars. And cars hurt.

See you next week!

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