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Elise Hartman Ford

Elise Hartman Ford has been a Washington, DC-based freelance writer since 1985, covering stories about the city for publications such as The Washington Post and National Parks magazine. She's been the sole author of the annually published Frommer's Guide to Washington, D.C. (now known as the Frommer's EasyGuide to Washington, D.C.), since 1998, and is the author of other guidebooks, as well, including the hipper-than-thou Night + Day D.C.. In pursuit of the full DC experience, Ford has sampled the sea foam-topped margaritas at Oyamel, the poptarts at Ted's Bulletin, and countless cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake; flirted with Secret Service agents during a White House tour and taken high tea at the top of the Washington National Cathedral; interviewed ambassadors, National Park staff, museum administrators and nightclub owners; paddled a boat around the Tidal Basin and biked around the National Mall; attended an inaugural ball at the Kennedy Center and chatted with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at a Ford's Theatre Gala. Ford knows the nation's capital inside and out, from A to Z, Adams Morgan to the National Zoo. Ask her anything. Number of items in the Library of Congress? 162 million. The first micro-hotel to open in DC? The Hive DC, debuting late summer 2016. Best place for vegetarian food that will also please carnivores? Zaytinya. Ford has also written for Washingtonian magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, National Geographic Traveler, the travel website Home & Abroad, the London-based Bradman's North America Guide, The Essential Guide to Business Travel, and other online and in-print national, regional, and trade publications.

Posts by Elise Hartman Ford

You asked...we answered!

  • 1
    What's your favorite mode of transportation? Why?

    If it’s possible to reach a destination by driving, I like to drive. I like being in control. I like figuring out routes and detours and places to stop and travel times. I’m good at it.

  • 2
    Do you prefer traveling alone or with a companion? Why?

    Here’s my perfect scenario: traveling with someone who, like me, can also enjoy exploring on his or her own.

  • 3
    What do you do when you encounter an unexpected dead-end?

    France comes to mind, thanks to its workers’ propensity for striking. France is my favorite place, so I say this fondly. But we, my husband and I, have encountered protesters on the streets in Paris and striking truckers blocking roads in the south of France, in both cases stopping us dead in our tracks. What can you do? The situation in Provence was especially challenging: There were 5 of us in a small car, my six-month old and 5-year old daughters, my sister, my husband and me. We had intended to turn our car in at the train station in Avignon and take the train north to Orly Airport, where we had a flight to catch home. Only, trains weren’t running, les routiers were blocking roads, we had no map. We also had no choice, we had to keep going. So we stocked up on frites and croissants and set off on the 423 mile/680 km journey, finding kindly gendarmes who waved us in the right direction at crossroads, beautiful countryside, a gas station just when we needed it, a family restaurant in the middle of nowhere at just the right moment. It took us all day and into the night, but we made it.

  • 4
    What is the most important thing you've learned from traveling?

    My neighbor who is Indian gave me some advice to pass on to my daughter who was traveling to India: “Tell her not to pass judgment or think about how she might like to change things, but just accept the place on its own terms.” My own experiences allow me to recognize that advice as something good to keep in mind when traveling to any destination. To understand the true nature of a place, try to get to know it on its own terms.