As promised, today I’m sharing a recap of the 5 days Ted and I spent in DC! I’m warning you now, it’s a lengthy one!
We arrived around lunchtime at DCA (Reagan Airport) and hitched a ride from Uber (Ted’s first experience with it) to our hotel. Our room wasn’t ready so we checked our bags at The Embassy Row Hotel and decided to grab a bite to eat in Dupont Circle. Since we were pretty hungry by that time, we popped into one of the first non-chain restaurants we saw, The Front Page. To be honest, the food wasn’t that great, but it filled us up for our 20-minute walk to Georgetown.
Georgetown is the cutest, guys! Just about every major brand you can think of has some real estate on the main road. If I lived in this area, I’m pretty sure some major spending would be happening. In the middle of it all was The Old Stone House, a historical landmark, older than the U.S. itself! It was very cool to see how things looked “back in the day,” and even what type of food/drink was consumed! I love the historical stuff. Here’s a peek into some of the rooms.
Next up, Georgetown Cupcakes for my birthday eve dessert! I really don’t think a trip to Georgetown is complete without stopping here. Yum!
After officially checking into the hotel, we headed over to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave (aka the White House). While it’s a huge building, it was a little underwhelming. Anyone else feel this way? And by underwhelming I mean Hollywood makes this place seem 5x bigger! Oh hey, people taking selfies!
We ended the day with a DC by Foot Lincoln Assassination tour (free – but you should tip your tour guide). HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS! Everyone knows the general info, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater. But what you might not know is this was all part of a larger plot to take out everyone closely associated with Lincoln and there were multiple people involved in the plot (not just Wilkes-Booth). It’s a fascinating tour that not only gives you a history of the time, people, and events, but also takes you to the locations where everything happened in Lincoln’s final days.
Day 2 (My Birthday!)
We hopped on the Metro (super easy to navigate) over to Arlington Cemetery to check out the country’s most famous cemetery. There’s a trolley tour you can pay for (~$12 I believe), but we decided to take the walking path to do our own exploring (warning: hills are involved and it’s a bit of a hike – wear tennis shoes).
It was surreal seeing row after row of tombstones, as far left, right, forward, and backward as we could see. But also, so peaceful.
There was a special area dedicated to JFK with his famous words engraved into a memorial. Here, we caught a glimpse of his grave next to Jackie O. and their two infant children, alongside the “eternal flame.”
A few more minutes of walking, and we found ourselves atop the hill at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where unknown U.S. soldiers are buried. Despite not knowing whose bones rest here, this tomb is guarded 24/7, no matter what kind of weather. Here, we witnessed the Changing of the Guard, which happens at the top of every hour.
Afterward, we hopped on the Metro back into DC, and grabbed lunch at Capitol City Brewing Company, thanks to a recommendation of one of our Uber drivers to check out the breweries. It was pretty good!
Next, we walked over to the National Museum of American History, the only Smithsonian we ended up having time for! It was really neat to see how much our country’s evolved over the past couple centuries, or even decades! For example, these old Ford cars! Can you imagine driving one of these on the road today?!
The highlight of the day was our stop for birthday dessert at Captain Cookie and the Milkman, hands down, our favorite dessert in DC! Ted opted for a milkshake and I went with a homemade Snickerdoodle/Chocolate Chip cookie with vanilla ice cream sandwich! YUMMMM.
We ended the day with a DC by Foot Secrets & Scandals tour. I was most excited for this one, because who doesn’t want to hear scandalous things about all of the presidents?! It wasn’t as juicy as I hoped, but was still pretty interesting!
Besides the monuments, the #1 thing on Ted’s list to visit was the National Zoo, because pandas! It’s free to visit the zoo and you can bring your own food/drink in, so we picked up a couple waters and snacks at the 7-11 across the street before we walked in.
We were getting worried about the pandas as we walked through the panda area, because they were no where in sight! But then we hit a big crowd of people, and realized that the pandas were moved inside to a climate controlled area. They did not disappoint. Check out those teeth!
I snapped a few other photos of animals at the zoo. Here are my favorites.
We only made it about halfway through the zoo before calling it quits and heading back to check into The George, our second hotel. After checking in and freshening up in under 10 minutes, we were out the door and on our way to the National Archives and Records Administration to see some cool historical docs like the original Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, maybe you’ve heard of them? While no photos were allowed in here, it was an awesome experience to see these in person. It’s incredible how well they’ve held up since they’ve been around since the late 1700s! Added bonus: One of my ancestors signed the Declaration! If you plan to stop here, ticket reservations are strongly encouraged so you don’t have to wait in line! They’re free, but there’s a small processing fee for reserving a time ahead.
Afterward, we grabbed a bite to eat at DC Sports Tavern and walked a few blocks over for our DC by Foot National Mall Tour (Note: The National Mall isn’t actually a mall – it’s where all the monuments are)! Ted and I noticed a ton of snipers on the roofs of buildings as we walked and were a little troubled by it. A few minutes later we found out why.. 3 Marine One choppers flew right over us and landed at the White House – the President was flying in! I wasn’t ready to snap a photo in time when they were coming in, but I did manage to get one when they started flying back to base.
After seeing the Monument (which was our landmark if we ever got turned around walking around the city), we made our way to the WWII memorial. It’s the “newest” monument, built in the early 2000s, and is beautifully done. There’s so much detail throughout, from the Atlantic/Pacific sides, representing all of the states, and art of the war scenes.
The most striking thing to me at this monument, was this wall, showing how many lives were lost during the War. Each star put up represented 100 people. And there are over 4,000 stars on the wall.
The most unique part of it? Kilroy. See if you can find him while you’re walking around!
Next up was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Another very sad thing to see, with so many names carved into the wall. This realistic statue across the way from it was later added to ease some of the controversy surrounding the memorial (since the Vietnam War itself was pretty controversial).
We ended at my favorite memorial. Can you guess which one? The Lincoln Memorial! The sun was just starting to set at this point, and it was really the perfect time of day to be there.
We broke our rule on no chain restaurants big time this day, but for good reason. TORRENTIAL RAIN! First up was The Corner Bakery, so we could scarf down some bagels (and coffee for me!). Then we walked over to the US Capitol Building for a tour, which was very cool to see (although if possible, you should visit on a weekday to see a live session). Tickets can be booked in advance for this, which I recommend! Also, to get to the Visitor entrance, you need to walk to the back of the building and down the steps (it took us awhile to find it).
I never realized how big this place is/was until I was standing next to it. Wowza!
After our tour, we took the Metro up a few stops to the U.S. Holocaust Museum (you definitely need tickets waaaaay in advance for this). This was a tough one to see. You’ll easily spend a few hours in here, and will have experience all kinds of emotions. You’ll gain so much more knowledge about this time period than you can even begin to imagine.
When we left the museum, it was literally pouring buckets. There were flash flood warnings, and Uber had 3x surge pricing, which I didn’t even know was possible! So, we hitched a ride with Lyft instead, and went to Chinatown to catch a screening of Jurassic Park. Then, dinner at the Hard Rock. Like I said, we broke the no-chains rule, but because of the weather, we decided to let it slide.
I was bummed the weather didn’t hold out, because were were supposed to do yet another DC by Foot tour, this time a Georgetown Ghost Tour! But we’ll just have to save that for the next time we’re in DC.
Our final day in DC. Womp. After packing up our bags, we grabbed a quick breakfast at The Corner Bakery, and walked over to the Newseum. This was my favorite museum of all! As a Marketing/PR/Journalism person, this place spoke volumes to me! Seeing history through the eyes of the media. SO COOL.
We had such a blast exploring our nation’s capital, we didn’t want it to end! I hope we get back here again soon, because there’s still so much to explore!
Have you visited DC? What are your favorite things to do in the area?