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February 20, 2013

Your GAC Getting-Around Guide, 2013


by Ron Daly

Yes, it's that time again - the Government Affairs Conference (GAC) is only a few short days away and we here at the CU Soapbox couldn't be more excited. This is the one time of year when everyone eschews the warm, calming comforts of a casino or a far-off resort in paradise for the chilly, wind-swept streets of Washington, DC. But even with the sub-arctic blasts and the almost-being-hit-by-a-motorcade, GAC attendees always seem to be in high spirits. 

We're looking forward to being there this year. If you want, swing by the Filene Charging Station from 12:30 to 1:30 on Monday and you'll see me and Jimmy Marks. Feel free to drop by and have a chat while your phone, laptop, or tablet is charging.  I'm happy to sign autographs on any of my merchandise you might happen to have with you (kidding, of course). We'll also be bouncing around town in our usual whirlwind of lunch-having, drink-buying, event-attending and, yes, even Thunder-punching.

In the interest of making your GAC go a little more smoothly, I went a grabbed some light reading for the plane, train,  or automobile ride there. I also threw in a few notes about GAC, the Washington Convention Center, the surrounding areas and our favorite restaurants and bars for all your nightlife needs. 

Organizational Must-Haves

Here's a link to the Official GAC Schedule. Bookmark it, instagram it, make it the lock-screen on your iPad...whatever makes it easy to remember. There's also a full breakdown you can download as a PDF and save in your e-reader, if you're so moved.

Here's a quick link to the street address of the Washington Convention Center so you can quickly map your way there while mobile. Enter your starting address and it should get you there. One note about Googling for this address: the "pin" is dropped at the rear of the convention center - it's accessible from right in front of Mt. Vernon Square and this is probably the entrance and exit you'll want to use to get to the Chinatown area where most of the nightlife happens.

If you plan on exploring the greater DC area while you're in town (assuming you have the free time), you may want to go to a Metro station and grab a Metro card. Embark is an app that can help you navigate the often-confusing (and sometimes delayed) Metro. You can grab the Metro at either the Mt. Vernon Square OR Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stops, both a short walk away from the Convention Center.

If you're in need of cash, there are two ATMs that are part of the Co-op network. This map shows the convention center and the two ATMs closest to it (GSA and Justice, just fyi). These are marked on the map with a red pushpin. 

Good Eats

You have a multitude of options for food in the GAC area. On the map above with the red pushpins for ATMs, we've added yellow pushpins for places to grab a bite

High Class Dining

There are three restaurants we really like in the Chinatown area. Matchbox does great pizza and American cuisine and has a great cocktail selection. The 901 Restaurant and Bar has a chic style and some tasty food. Acadiana is the most pricey, but the cuisine - a kind of Creole fusion - is to die for.  

Good, Fast, AND Cheap

Need something speedy that doesn't cost a bundle? There's Chipotle, Fuddruckers Burgers, Five Guys, Potbelly and Chopp'd (a salad joint, if you're into that) all in the same block.  

As far as bars go, just walk toward Chinatown and you'll see them in the same area as your dining spots. There are too many to mark and our map's crowded as-is, but there's Fado's (Irish pub), RFD, Rocket Bar...the list goes on. 

And coffee? There's always a Starbucks around, including one right inside the Convention Center. Fear not...there will be caffeine.

Good Reads 

Go ahead and save these articles to your Instapaper or Evernote apps, or throw down a bookmark. There's a lot of good food-for-thought here and it'll help you get through your travel. 

5 Places to Spot Washington Celebrities While at GAC

Who to See at GAC

CUSOs Look to GAC to Step Out of the ‘Vendor’ Category

“How to Hike the Hill”, a CUNA Mutual Group Instructional

GAC – Traditional Media & Social Media…Hand in Hand


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Great post - with regards to the schedule, I believe CUNA has an app for the conference available to download. It's got the schedule, maps and more. Just search CUNA GAC in the App Store. See you guys there!

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