Operation: S.H.O.P.

Operation: S.H.O.P.

With  this summer coming to a close, a lot of things must be going through the minds of my fellow interns. What will I pack or throw away? What do I need to do to get ready for the new school year? Where are my pants? Lately, I have not focused on such issues because it is much more fun to worry about what gifts to give people (it helps that my friends and girlfriend's birthdays are close together). So, if you are in the spirit of giving like me and still have time to explore D.C., here is my gift to you: a Beltway shopping guide to find the perfect gift for anyone.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History


Now I'm sure that all the Smithsonian institutions in the National Mall have some form of gift shop. However, I chose this museum because it has three - yes, three- stores that cater to different tastes.

The first store, located near the main entrance, might as well be a time capsule. This place is perfect for the pop culture junkie or for someone seeking a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with merchandise of the Beatles, Batman, lava lamps, Lucille Ball, and many others. Plus C-3PO's head is right outside. The Force is strong with this one.

Do you know someone who's proud to be an American? Someone who's not afraid to wear their pride on their sleeve (like literally)? Then go down to the museum's main gift shop. American-themed jewelry and clothes, merch with Rosie the Riveter, and an endless supply of mugs and pins are just a fraction of the items that adorn this store. There's also some nift presidential gifts as well.

The last store in the museum will meet the needs of any military or history buff. For a small fee, you can have a set of dog tags made with custom letters and phrases. The back wall is filled with books on American military history, ranging from the American Revolution to Operation Iraqi Freedom. You can also show off your pride for the military with branch-specific clothing. The best part? Lincoln hats. If only my head wasn't so big...

National Zoo
Just a quick mention here. If you know someone who loves animals, particulalry pandas, go here. I swear, the entire back section of this store is 100% giant panda.

If you can name it, chances are it is in panda form. There are other animal gifts as well and some pretty cherry blossom earrings that I got for my girlfriend.

King Street and Old Town, Alexandria, VA
I strongly suggest that you take the time to escape the D.C. and explore Alexandria. King Street is full of restaurants and unique stores, which are made more easily accesible thanks to a free trolley service that stops at the closest Metro station.

This place is like the main American History Museum store, but with 20% more America (and bobbleheads).

One of the most unique experiences I had in D.C. was actually in Alexandria: Christmas in July. That's right. In chilly 90+ degree weather, The Christmas Attic brought out the holiday spirit in full force with Christmas decorations, creepy nutcrackers, and live bands. As a one-stop Christmas shop, they are open all year round and have some pretty nifty decorations.

Why yes, that is Santa Claus playing the bagpipes. Do you believe in Santa? Because he believes in you.

I hate to disappoint you all, but unfortunately (or fortunately) you cannot actually get operational torpedos at the Torpedo Factory. Instead, you will find artists crafting and selling unique jewelry, paintings, and other pieces in this historic facility. I know a lot of people who are into handcrafted goods, so this place was worth a look. There are enough jewelry styles here to make any fashion-conscious person feel fabulous.

There you have it. I hope these places give some idea of where to find the perfect gift. And what could be better than serving up smiles? It's the gift that keeps on giving.


Metro Music!


Hatsune Miku, "Po Pi Po"

Rancid, "Ruby Soho"

Blümchen, "Heut Is Mein Tag"

LL Cool J, "Mama Said Knock You Out"

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