This was our itinerary in Washington D.C. It was pretty packed, very tiring and very fun. Get your walking shoes on.
April 7-12, 2016
Wanted to make it to see the famous cherry blossoms but alas they had already come and gone. There were sporadic cherry blossoms around the city. Still very beautiful to see. Am inspired to plant some of my own. Found some at the Arbor Day Foundation website.
Weather: highly variable, a few days of rain, some sunshine and a lot of cold windy days. Bring lots of layers. We called it menopause weather. One minute we’d be freezing, no feeling in my toes and then inevitably we’d be baked to death inside buildings where there’d be little to no ventilation or have the heat on high. We brought an umbrella and we definitely used it.
Monuments by Moonlight, Old Town Trolley Tours
Our driver/tour guide: HW (which he said stood for Hard Work) was a knowledgeable guide and had lots of interesting tidbits about the city. It was cold the first night and sitting in the trolley was nice. They can roll down the plastic sides to fend off the wind. The monuments have a different look at night. They seem just a little bit more austere and grand at the same time. A bit more peaceful. However, do not expect that you will find yourself alone cause at certain times the crowds can be just as thick as in the day time.
- White House (seen from Trolley)
- Capitol (seen from Trolley)
- Lincoln Memorial
- FDR Memorial (walk through)
- MLK Memorial (walk through)
- WW II Memorial (from afar)
- Iwo Jima Memorial (walk through)
- Arlington National Cemetery (drive by)
- Washington Monument (seen from Trolley)
Many statues and other buildings were pointed out as we drove by.
Segway Tour-We went with Capital Segway (tour guide: Lucas) because there time slots fit our schedule best. It was definitely a fun way to see the city and try out a segway which I had never been on before. It seemed a little wobbly and scary at first but we all got the hang of it and were zooming around by the end.
- White House (got a picture right in front)
- went through the sculpture garden at the Hirschon (only because we had a small group of 4 and the garden had no other tourists)
- Lincoln Memorial (walk through)
- Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial (walk through)
- WWII Memorial (segway’d past)
- Washington Memorial (segway’d past)
- Capitol (zoomed right up to it)
- Newseum (seway’d past)
- Einstein’s statue (segway’d past) he has a shiny nose
Lunch at The Hamilton -as recommended by our Segway guide. Ate at the bar. Super awesome. Highly recommend. Ordered: Fish and Chips and Crab Cake, Hamilton Mule (it kicks).
Capitol Tour-as arranged through our Senator John Cornyn’s office. Very awesome. Best picture of the trip: off the front of the balcony of the capitol looking across the mall towards the Washington Monument. After the Capitol tour we wandered over to the Library of Congress. Note that there is a direct underground tunnel that will lead you to the Library from the Capitol. The Botanic Garden is not very far away and easily reached from the library.
Library of Congress-very crowded, spotted the two famous bibles, took a gander at Thomas Jefferson’s personal library.
National Botanic Garden-orchid exhibition currently, very gorgeous, wish we had more time to explore.
Spy Musuem-so many exhibits to look at. My favorite were the guns concealed as other items like umbrellas and boxes. We also learned the Julia Child was once a spy.
Dinner reservations at Jaleo-highly recommend. get reservations. ordered: flight of red wine (fun), seafood paella (yum, filling, good value), garlic shrimp (classic), quail (well done), sausage (least favorite), mixed croquettes (surprise favorite, filled with creamy bechamel)
Bus to National Arboretum/Bonsai Musuem-surprise favorite. The National Arboretum is not to be confused with the National Botanical Gardens. On the grounds of the National Arboretum is the National Bonsai Museum. They have 400 year old bonsai trees there! It was really surprisingly awesome. The ground of the arboretum are huge and since we arrived by bus and had no car we paid the nominal fee for the tram tour. It takes you all the way in back to see all the different sections of the arboretum. We bought some cute little bonsai starter kits in the gift shop.
Metro to Eastern Market-cute little street market,right next to the metro stop, there’s also a CVS there and an awesome bakery. bought apple cider from one of the fruit vendors. Probably could have spent more time here if we didn’t have to make it to Bike and Roll by 11:30.
Metro to King St Station
Free King St Trolley to Bike and Roll
9 mile bike ride to Mt. Vernon-can’t say enough about Mt. Vernon. It was beautiful. The views are gorgeous. And even 3 hours was not enough time to do everything. I really wanted to eat at the restaurant that served some old fashioned recipes but we didn’t have enough time. The bike ride was pretty easy. There are a couple of hills but it wasn’t too bad. We took a break on one of the park benches and had a snack.
boat ride on Potomac back to Old Town Alexandria
Natural History Museum-our favorites: the ocean creatures, the gem stones and minerals collection, super cool.
Marine Corps Musuem-very well done. Kind of a trek away from DC, we opted to rent a car and I think it was worth it. If you look at the Marine Corps Museum website it doesn’t look so impressive so I didn’t expect much from the museum but I was wrong. They went all out. It is a world class museum of the highest caliber.
Quantico-Home of the Marine Corps and the FBI training school. The base of Quantico actually surrounds the mini town of Quantico.
Art Musuem-beelined for the Da Vinci, only one on permanent display in North America, even the back is painted
Museum of American History-Lincoln’s hat, Dorthy’s ruby red slippers, the star spangled banner that inspired our national anthem
Seafood at the Docks (A dozen boiled blue crab $22)-was an awesome experience for me cause it seemed filled with locals rather than just tourists. Don’t be shy. Step up. Ask how to order. Enjoy some really fresh seafood.
Georgetown Cupcake (closes at 9pm)-there was still a line going out the door at 8:50. Awesome cupcakes. Flavors we tried: strawberry cheesecake (awesome cheesecake), strawberry, red velvet, chocolate squared, cherry blossom, chocolate coconut, peanut butter chocolate
Udvar Hazy Air and Space Center-this is another that’s kind of hard to get to. We used our rental car to drive out to Dulles airport which is right next to the museum. The museum houses real life planes in giant hangars. There’s even a real space ship. Very cool to see. And we agreed that the Udvar Hazy Air and Space near Dulles was cooler than the Air and Space museum in DC. The air and space museum in DC is more exhibits. Udvar Hazy has the real life planes including the Enola Gay.
National Zoo-Pandas-was surprised that I got such good views of the pandas including the baby. We were lucky cause 1. we were there on a week day and crowds were thin and 2. around 1:30 the pandas were fed a snack so there was a lot going on with the pandas.
I think we did pretty much everything we wanted to do this time. Next time I go back I’d like to spend time in Arlington National Cemetery, get tickets to go up the Washington Monument, see where money is printed, get a tour of the White House, and maybe a Pentagon or FBI tour. The places I didn’t get to eat at that I would visit next time: Ben’s Chili Bowl and Toki Underground (several people mentioned it and I saw great reviews online).