This would be my first visit to Washington DC and Lucy’s first as an adult. We landed Friday at 2am and got our rental. We decided to drive around Washington at night since we knew it would be empty and then we would be guaranteed to see all the sites. The first thing I noticed is that this is not a place I would want to drive in because of all the one way streets and time based rules. I was driving down on what I thought was a one way road to find that it is only a one way road during rush hour. It was beautiful to see all the sites lit up at night and as expected there would be a ton to see over the trip.
Our DC | Itinerary
The following is our experience and may not be representative of your experience.
Hopefully you have a better one!
National History Museum
We woke up a bit late since we had arrived late and decided to take the train down to Washington to visit the Natural History Museum. We passed by the Washington memorial which is very imposing but closed for repairs until ~2019. With most buildings in DC, and the Natural History Museum is no different, the architecture is very grand and Greek in origin which makes everything feel more important and stunning. I don’t want to spoil DC because there really is so much to see and do that it’s too hard to describe in a short article but no matter your interest you won’t be disappointed. The Natural History Museum has the great exhibits you would expect and is as large as you would expect. People go crazy for the hope diamond, which I don’t understand. All the gems and stones around it where much more beautiful and memorable.
American Portrait Museum
We were hungry so we walked north past the national archives to a restaurant facing it. We had a beautiful view of the courtyard at BBB as we chowed down on some burgers and fries. We continued north to the American Portrait Museum, which was the highlight of the day. The portraits were decent and the rest of the art was agreeable (especially the third floor) but the courtyard blew us away. We spent so much time just enjoying the area that I ended up taking a nap on the granite benches. We were still a bit jet lagged so we called it an early night on Friday.
Air and Space Museum
Saturday we woke up early and headed to the Air and Space Museum via the train. We met a nice German couple on the train with kids just counting the seconds in German but overall the train ride was slow. Upon arriving, I rode the flight simulator three times because of how awesome it is to pretend to be a fighter pilot. The contraption they put you in mimics the way you are flying which meant I was upside down or sideways for most of the flight. The takeaway from the museum is that in less than a hundred years we went from not flying to space (insane). We then walked to Luke’s lobster pen where they had some seafood sandwiches. Lucy wasn’t looking forward to it but she enjoyed it so much we had to place a second order. She particularly enjoyed the shrimp sandwich.
We walked to see the famous White House and ran into the German couple. I think they might have though we followed them because we talked and had the same itinerary for the day just offset by a couple minutes. It started raining but damned if we cared and walked to the World War 2 Memorial and Lincoln memorial to pay our respect. It was tiring walking everywhere but driving seemed insane in DC so at least the walking allowed me to pig out. The rain started pouring so we took the train back and rested a bit before our Ghost Tour of Alexandria.
Alexandria is a beautiful town and even through the darkness of the night you were taken back by the charm. The streetlights were candle like lanterns and the sidewalks were all old world bricks. Our tour was guided by a man in period clothing and covered a bit of the history of Alexandria. The tour started in front of the Carlyle house which went from slave auction home, war hospital, to hospital for the insane, to hotel, to a single home residence again.
The tour had us walk around the charming city by candlelight and some people on the tour were genuinely scared (Not me though, I had Lucy to protect me). The end of the tour had us visit a graveyard next to a church and as we entered the grounds the AC kicked on and scarred half the group to death (Again not me, I wore my lucky underwear. – they repel ghosts and attract the ladies). The graveyard was a perfect way to end the tour, as you then had to walk back to the beginning of the tour on your own and in the dark.
We planned to eat at Hens Quarter in Alexandria but their rudeness changed the plans. When we entered no one greeted us. The whole wait staff would see us but no one would come over or make any indication that someone was coming. The staff was just chatting with the people at the bar and made us feel like we were a burden on the fun. After five minutes we just gave up and scrambled to find another restaurant. We ended up at Mackie’s Bar and Grill where the service was the complete opposite of the Hens Quarter. The waiter was so nice and helpful and even provided menu suggestions, which we followed. We had a pair of delicious steaks and a crab salad for an appetizer.
Being so late there was only one other pair sitting at a table nearby. The whole night I kept wondering if they were dating or work associates. The man was not eating and the woman was eating and drinking heavily. The topics of discussion made it sound like they barely knew each other or had just started going out but the guy seemed so uncomfortable. I just thought he must have just started a new job and this is his boss. When it was time to pay the check, the point of sale system at the restaurant collapsed and could not be turned back on. They wanted to take my credit card info but I figured I could go to an ATM and get cash. The other pair was in the same situation and wanted to pay cash.
The guy from the table whom I will call Romeo left his Juliet first and I ran after to get to my ATM. By the time I hit the street he was already coming back and looked pissed. I thought well maybe he really hates paying cash and loves his credit card cash back. I got to my ATM, got the money and ran back. I was gone maybe ten minutes but during that time all hell broke loose. Apparently Romeo came back and told Juliet that since he didn’t eat or drink he wasn’t going to pay and that she should sort out the bill. She told him that he knew what tonight was going to be and that he should pay. He then said he couldn’t because his wife would see the cash withdrawal and would figure out he was having an affair. I’ve tried to understand how he got to this situation and the best scenario is that this was a spur of the moment thing and that’s why he didn’t have cash on him. They made such a scene that they called the owner who said they could come back tomorrow and pay the bill. So basically they got the meal for free while I ran around like a jackass to pay them. Romeo and Juliet didn’t go home together that night but Lucy and me did.
Sunday was a day to relax from all the walking and shenanigans so far. We toured downtown Alexandria and toured the Carlyle house. The house has unique history, which starts with the slave trade industry and apparently had a role in the American Revolution as a meeting place. Alexandria had a great vibe during the day with music and signing. We rode the trolley around and got to see the whole old Town while resting our feet. The rest of the day was spent eating and sleeping. We were just dead tired.
We headed down to Williamsburg where people pretend it is the 1700’s by penalty of death. No, everyone is there by choice or employment as far as I can tell. We got the sampler pass, which allowed us access to a couple buildings, but the first thing I wanted to do was take a horse carriage ride. This was the highlight of the day. We took a 15-minute tour of the area in horse carriage and because we got there early it was just Lucy and I. The town is best described as adorable and widespread. We visited a slave owner’s home and saw a sheep being shaved (I think that is the technical term). For the most part everyone stayed in character. The most interesting person was the Native American near the armory who had a ton of information on his culture and gave the native perspective to the 1700. The takeaway was that the Indians weren’t dumb and understood trade and merchandise quality a lot more than I thought before visiting.
We then headed down to beautiful downtown Williamsburg. And had dinner at a French restaurant. We had some delicious chicken ravioli and meatloaf but the service was a bit weird. He wouldn’t bring us bread and at the end of the meal asked if Lucy and me would be getting separate checks. We have been together for over 10 years so either the magic has run out or this guy was interested in Lucy … or maybe even me.
Constitution and The Capitol
On our last day we returned to DC to first visit the United States Constitution at the Hall of Records. I was surprised they would not allow any photography of any type but when you see some of the documents you understand. The hall that holds the Constitution is stunning and awe inspiring and grandiose. The documents including the Constitution are pretty faded and damaged but still readable which is stunning. We did tour the rest of the museum and the other notable document is one of the three original copies of the Magna Carta.
I was really amazed that they had the Magna Carta; I would have thought that the foundation for many documents like the Constitution would only be found in Europe. Even more surprising was the excellent condition it was in. The Constitution is around 230 years old while the Magna Carta is around 800 years old. I asked why was it in such great condition relative to the Constitution and because the Constitution has always been displayed and maybe not under the best conditions the Constitution faded fast. The Magna Carta was mainly held in a dark room and sealed from view for most of its history.
We then headed to a donut and fried chicken restaurant for lunch. We then did a bit of shopping before visiting The Capitol Building. From pictures you never appreciate how big the capitol building is. Before heading to the airport Lucy had been craving a pretzel the whole trip so we went to a The Pretzel Spot, which had ok pretzel but a delicious pretzel pepperoni calzone.
Overall this was an amazing trip with awesome sites. Since we didn’t get to visit all the sites we plan to return soon.
~ Happy Travels! ~