I can’t believe it’s been a year and I haven’t written about last March in Washington D.C. yet. Anyway, today I’ll quickly fill you in on what Doug and I did during our time there last year. If you want to go, check out a more detailed post on visiting the National mall.
The school I work at has a really early spring break: the first or second week of March. We have a shorter semester, so it makes sense. However, it means that spring break trips are usually pretty chilly! Last year we took advantage of the cold weather to visit somewhere, well, cold. Prices were low for visiting Washington DC, since the famous cherry blossoms won’t bloom until the end of the month and there is no other tourist draw this time of year.
We landed at Reagan National Airport, which is the best one to fly into, even if the price is a little higher, since it is so close to everything. Arriving mid-evening, we were picked up by our friends (who graciously hosted us for four days), and immediately got pizza and drinks. We played games and talked for a while but forced ourselves to go to bed at a reasonable hour (“early” since our bodies were still on California time).
National Mall & White House
The next morning we got up and visited the National Mall, including a trip up the Washington Monument. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but the biting cold was keeping people away so there was no wait. The views from the top were actually quite impressive. After that we had to rush “home” and drop off almost all of our stuff including my purse. We were going to visit the White House(!) and they have very strict policies on what you can and can’t bring inside.
After the White House we went into a couple of the Smithsonian Museums: the National Museum of American History and the American Indian Museum. With limited time, it is almost impossible to choose which museums to visit but all of them are expertly curated and interesting for all age levels. After my friend finished his workday, we had a drink together until his wife finished work, then we all had a late dinner. We stayed in for the rest of the evening since it was so cold and I’d had my fill of walking (21,000 steps on the fitbit!) for the day.
The following morning we met up with another friend in the DC area (it is so nice to know people all over the country) and we visited Arlington National Cemetery. I’d visited Arlington before, when I was in high school, and honestly I’m pretty anti-military so it wasn’t really something I thought I’d do twice, but Doug had never been before. All the walking the day before had caused my knee problems to flare up, something I am plagued with often when I travel (tips welcome in the comment section). Instead of taking the tram (not sure why we did this) we hustled up the hill to be on time for the changing of the guard. Take it from me: When the thermometer is hovering around 32° and you have knee problems, just take the tram.
A bowl of clam chowder helped warm me up from a very cold morning, but I could tell I had a severe cold coming on. Dun dun dunnnnn… I laid low for most of the afternoon to try to fend it off, but to no avail.
The following morning we ate breakfast at a really cool diner before seeing one of our friends off for a business trip. These Washington types, always heading somewhere important. Those of us with the day off snooped around Adams Morgan, arguably DC’s coolest neighborhood, spending time in cool vintage clothing shops, record stores, import stores, and antique shops. We had lunch at a really fun pizza place that I would totally recommend. My germ-riddled body couldn’t handle much more so we went home to watch TV (Fuller House had just premiered, if I’m being honest). Isn’t getting sick on vacation a drag? However, all the rest helped my bum knee heal and I built up some energy for our action-packed final day.
Our last day: we had a Capitol tour scheduled bright and early, which was actually not a highlight of the trip. Much of it was undergoing restoration/maintenance and there was scaffolding and such everywhere so I have no photos for you. At the Capitol, we got headphones and were herded into a large group, led briskly by a tour guide. I understand that it is a working government building (not a museum), but the tour could have been better. After that, we went right across to the Library of Congress which was actually much more interesting. We took some photos of the exterior of the Supreme Court building, then went over to a few of the other memorials that Doug hadn’t seen before.
The war memorials are so sobering. The Martin Luther King, Jr memorial is so inspirational; I’ll include more details about all of these in an upcoming post.
Scheduling a mid-afternoon flight was just right because we got a half-day in the city (on a weekday; things were less crowded) before heading out. Flying back to California from the East Coast is always lovely because the time change works in our favor.
Have you ever visited Washington, DC? If so, what was your favorite part? If not, what are you most interested in checking out?
All photos by Staci and Doug Jackson for The Voyageer.