Tom and I got back last week from five days and four nights in Washington DC and I thought I’d put together a trip report to remember it by.
The reason for the trip was that we had some Southwest credits that we had to use by May 17. And since we’re both big government and politics nerds, and it had been almost nine years since we had last visited DC, we decided it was time to go back.
We’ve done all the museums, memorials, and monuments on previous family trips so we wanted to take things more slowly this time. On the agenda was exploring neighborhoods, and enjoying the city rather than running from place to place. That allowed me to notice just how pretty the city is.
Here’s a little summary of our trip…
Where we Stayed
We had Marriott points to use and chose the Marriott at Metro Center. (Quick hotel review: large and comfortable room but nothing fancy. No room service or cleaning due to Covid, but some of the friendliest hotel staff we’ve ever run across.)
We chose this Marriott because it is so close to the Metro Center subway stop where four of the six lines run through and then…we didn’t get on the Metro once. Instead, we took Ubers (not a thing on our previous trips) where we could stay above ground and see the sites as we went from place to place.
We also walked a LOT (18,000+ steps on the first day alone). I knew we’d get our steps in but we walked way more than I expected. My Apple Watch kept sending me “good job!” messages. 🙂
What We Did
U.S. Capitol tour
I was ready to pass on any tours but Tom wanted to see if we could snag a White House and/or Capitol tour if we could. We reached out to one of our Senators and our Member of Congress and while it initially looked like we wouldn’t be able to do either (tours have just started back up and space is limited) we were able to snag a Capitol tour after all.
We did this tour in 2004 and the highlight for me is getting to ride the subway that the Senators and Members of Congress take from their office buildings to the Capitol. For some reason, that’s so fun to do. We didn’t get to ride with any elected officials though. It was Friday and the Capitol was a little sleepy.
By the way, the Capitol grounds are beautiful. Did you know they’re actually considered a park? I didn’t.
To me, the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress is the most beautiful building in DC. You need a timed entry pass to visit right now, but once you’re in you can explore on your own. Our tickets were for late in the day so we didn’t have a lot of time, but we were able to check out a few exhibits and view the main reading room, which is amazing. I’ve been taken with it ever since I first saw this scene in All the President’s Men. There are also some really neat views of the Capitol from the library.
This was one neighborhood I definitely wanted to visit as I had seen a couple of Capitol Hill home tours online and it looked charming. We ended up loving this area of row houses, bars, restaurants, and cute shops. It’s a lot like Georgetown, although a bit more eclectic and diverse. Plus it’s near all the action of Capitol Hill.
This is such a cool place in the Capitol Hill neighborhood to shop for produce, flowers, baked items, and handmade items like jewelry and art. The time to go is on the weekend when the weekend vendors join the permanent merchants. Unfortunately, it was raining cats and dogs when we went on Saturday so not all the vendors were there. I did manage to find a pair of earrings I liked though. I definitely want to go back.
It doesn’t get more charming than Georgetown. It just doesn’t. We ate and shopped and people watched and house peeped and then made our way down and over to the nearby Washington Harbour and Watergate Complex. Lots and lots of walking but it’s worth exploring these streets.
Where we Ate and Drank
I’m not going to lie, we ate and drank a lot on this trip. We had assumed the weather would be nice so the plan was outdoor cafes and rooftop bars. Instead, we got a rainy trip, so we pivoted to cozy indoor places instead.
I should note that we aren’t big foodies so this isn’t a list of trendy or high-end places. What we tend to look for are spots that are local to wherever we are and that have some atmosphere.
The Vue at the Hotel Washington.
This rooftop restaurant and bar has incredible views of The White House and the Washington Monument so we made sure to stop by for drinks on our first day before the rain set in. There was a really lively mix of tourists and locals when we were there. The drinks are pricey, but of course, you’re paying for the view. I had (a couple of) First Ladies Lemonade with vodka, strawberries, and rosemary. Tom went with his usual gin and tonic.
We also grabbed lunch on the patio of the Hotel Washington when we first got to town. I love this pretty little corner across from the Treasury Department and The White House which has several hotels and sidewalk restaurants in a row. I could sit there and watch people all day.
We had breakfast at the Capitol Hill location before our tour of the Capitol. We loved the vibe (I was really hoping we could snag the table in the window) and, while we didn’t have room for anything more after breakfast, their bakery looked wonderful. They are known for their homemade poptarts.
We ducked into this Capitol Hill bar and grill to get out of the rain and it turned out to be a cozy place to pass the time with a couple of drinks. They apparently have live jazz in the evenings, which would be really fun.
This was where I was supposed to tell you about the Italian restaurant in Dupont Circle where we had planned to eat. But we were so tired (and not that hungry) when we got back to our hotel that we canceled our reservation and walked to Ella’s near our hotel instead. We split a Caesar salad and a pizza and it was exactly what we needed. It’s a cute place, with good food, and great service. (In fact, we had great service everywhere we went in DC.)
We grabbed lunch here after shopping at Eastern Market. It was a really cozy place (we were able to snag the window table this time!) and Tom raved about the chili.
We knew we wanted to spend a day in Georgetown so we made Sunday brunch reservations at Clyde’s on M Street. We had had drinks here on a previous trip and had eaten at the Gallery Place location once before too. They seated us in the back room, which was so pretty with its fireplace, glass ceiling, and brick walls.
This is another place we just stumbled onto. We grabbed an outdoor table at the Georgetown/Washington Harbour location, which had a view of the fountain and the other restaurants nearby. We had margaritas and shared a quesadilla while watching all the families celebrating Mother’s Day and posing for pictures at the Harbour. The fountain becomes a skating rink in the winter which would be really fun.
I don’t know that I will ever go to DC and not go to Old Ebbitt Grill. It’s a DC institution dating back to the 1800s and it gets top marks from us for the food, atmosphere (dark woods, white tablecloths, velvet booths), and service. I had the best crab cake I’ve ever had for lunch (although keep in mind I’m from Kansas so…).
What Will Have to Wait for Next Time
The Watergate Hotel has a rooftop bar with 360 views of the Potomac, The Kennedy Center, and more and we really wanted to check that out. It was closed due to weather, however.
Another casualty of the weather, this walking tour of Georgetown with a former CIA officer sounded so cool.
This is one of the few Smithsonian museums we haven’t been to but there are two options for getting tickets: 1. request the free timed entry passes in advance of your trip or 2. go online at 8 am and try to get the tickets they release that day. We neglected to do #1 and failed at #2.
You guys, as I finish this post I’m ready to go back! I’d love to hear…what’s your favorite thing to do in DC?