Our nation’s capital is a fantastic destination, but for the fact that it is located clear across the country from us West Coasters. Guess that’s just more reason to make the most of any visit to the District of Columbia.
There are SO many museums and monuments, it’s impossible to fit them all in one short trip. That’s what directed 8th grade tours are for; not sure if they offer those anymore, but I went on my middle school’s, and it was a blast. Highly recommend.
But I digress, let’s DC Talk
I know, obscure Christian band reference…
Because it is the epicenter of politics and home to lots of rich movers and shakers, there’s many food offerings, a lot of them storied in their place in American history, and a lot of them very upscale and classy.
When I land in DC, the first stop is breakfast. A Baked Joint serves up some great brunch fare and has an incredible dirty chai. The herb and goat cheese breakfast sammie is to die for, but don’t even look at the grease-soaked paper, you’ll feel bad that you felt so good while enjoying this savor bomb.
Luckily, this is a town where you can walk it all off. Head to the National Mall, the area surrounded by Smithsonian museums and monuments galore.
Because I have been to all of the major attractions before, my short trips usually do not include these sites. But, I do believe that everyone should visit the monuments at least once in their life, not only for the historical value, but to marvel the strides we’ve made for only being a very young country. We don’t have destinations like the Colosseum or the Parthenon, but we had some great leaders who provided a democratic foundation from nothing…and that’s something to celebrate, no matter which side of the aisle on which you land.
At the far end sits the Capitol Building, home of the legislative branch of our government. You have to sit on the steps of Capitol Hill, cause you’re just a bill, right? If it’s open, make sure to go inside and look up at the beautiful rotunda and sit in on some sessions if you can. You can obtain passes when Congress is in session and get gallery passes through your Representative or Senators offices as well.
This is something you should see in your lifetime. It’s important to see how government works…you’ve got to be informed about the system and the best way to do it is to see it for yourself.
Walking in the wide expanse of paths on Constitution Avenue that is the National Mall, you’ll see the National Gallery. There’s a cute cafe in the Pavilion that overlooks the sculpture garden that includes Calder, Indiana, Miro, Abakanowicz, all time favs Oldenburg and van Bruggen, LeWitt and my personal favorite, this little house by Lichtenstein.
Continuing down the path you’ll hit the National History Museum and then the American History Museum. The Hope Diamond (45.52 carats) lives at the National History Museum and it is magnificent.
Next to this is the newest additional to the mall’s Smithsonian museums, the African American Museum, which I have not had a chance to visit yet because tickets are still pretty hard to come by…but it’s on my must see list.
The Washington Monument stands like a stalwart pillar in the center of it all. The monument’s elevator has been closed every time I’ve visited Washington across the span of 20 some years, so it may just not be my luck to get to the top. The National Park Service is making repairs and hopefully it will be operation again in 2019.
It faces the White House towards its north end, but we’ll save that visit for later. The US holocaust museum is due south, and if you continue towards the Potomac, you’ll find a path that will take you to Thomas Jefferson, my favorite character in the musical Hamilton.
Just kidding, I obviously enjoyed his previous work in the Declaration of Independence and as the early proponent of ice cream in America. He was an O.G. influencer.
Jefferson Memorial is harder to get to because it’s located on the west basin of the Potomac, but it is certainly beautiful when framed by D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms every Spring season. And if you take the whole loop, you’ll run into FDR, MLK Jr. and Korean War Veterans Memorial before you hit the Lincoln.
Lincoln Memorial is at the opposite end of the mall from the Capitol Building, and it is one of my favorites. Daniel Chester French did a phenomenal job with the statue, sits at almost 20 feet. There’s something very peaceful about being there, even though there are billions of screaming children and tourists everywhere.
Making your last victory turn (you’ve walked A LOT by this point, but it’s actually not too bad because there’s so many things at which to stop and look) towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial before heading back to the center.
No trip to DC is complete without a visit to Ford’s Theater as well, so make sure you reserve in advance. This is located a few blocks north of the Natural History Museum in Penn Quarter and is one of the top tourist attractions in the city. The site of Lincoln’s assassination withstanding, it’s a lovely theatre.
By this time, you may be starving, and who could blame you?
There are a lot of top steakhouse chains that you can visit, lots of famous top chefs who have establishments in the city (Spike Mendelsohn, Mike Isabella — Zaytinya for sure, I hear Kapnos is also great). I mean, there’s a lot of business dinners going on with some pretty big wigs, so you can find these types of restaurants in any corner of the city.
If you want to try something that’s got a lot of historical value and charm, I say grab a reservation at the Old Ebbitt Grill. I like this place so much that I’ve eaten here for both breakfast and dinner, and I’m not a fan of repeating places when traveling.
This is DC’s oldest restaurant, established in 1856. The decor is very old boy’s hunting lodge with gorgeous paintings and taxidermy. And you never know who you might rub elbows with, a lot of famous faces both political and non enjoy meals at this institution. I thought the Eggs Chesapeake, trout and meatloaf were all very satisfying.
And you can figure why it’s popular since it is located across the way from the White House. No matter what you feel or think about the administration, the White House is a must see. No one says you have to agree with the people who live there, you can just take a picture of the outside, it’s okay.
The great thing about a city like Washington D.C. is that there are a lot of institutes of higher learning and with that brings a lot of young professionals. This leads to a lot of night life. From the well known rooftop lounge at the top of the W which gives sweeping views of the city, to the U street bars in Adam’s Morgan (shout out to Lost Society), the city has you covered.
Late night drinking leads to millennial brunching, and they’ve got you covered here, too! See, it’s not such a stodgy old city after all. Afterwords is one of my favorites, as it is located in a bookstore (killing two interests with one stone, if you ask me) in Dupont Circle, the perfect strolling neighborhood. You know, the neighborhoods where you see lots of couples strolling with their strollers.
Before you leave, make sure you visit Georgetown and do a little bit of light shopping in the stores and boutiques that line the streets. Grab a snack at District Doughnut and Coffee or at Uncommon Grounds. There are tons of coffee shops and cafes, and even a Cat cafe: Crumbs and Whiskers, where you can grab em by the…
Just kidding…staying bipartisan. You should too when you visit the delights of our nation’s capital and definitely stay safe and sound.