Road Trip Adventures, Stop 2: Washington, DC

Our 2nd stop isn’t technically a “stop” per se since we didn’t actually get in our car from Stop 1 to Stop 2, but for the sake of titling this post we’re gonna go with Stop 2 ūüėČ

Saturday

{In case you missed it, read all about how we started Saturday in Alexandria in this post!}

We hopped on the metro and glided into downtown DC. I love riding the metro. I particularly like riding the metro from Alexandria to DC because much of it is above ground with a nice view.

  • Tip:¬†Unless you are visiting locations that are all condensed to a tight radius, splurge on the all-day/unlimited pass for the metro. That way you can save your feet [you’ll do¬†plenty of walking regardless] and quickly¬†take the metro from destination to destination.
    • If you aren’t super familiar with navigating the metro, use the Maps app on your iPhone. Just enter your desired destination and select “Transit” at the top. This will provide you with instructions for which lines / connections / stops you need to take to get where you’re going.
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In the Maps app, type in your destination then click Transit

The Newseum

When I visited DC for Tableau’s conference, they rented out the Newseum for an evening. It was¬†so¬†awesome! By now you probably know that I am a huge nerd. My car radio is always stuck on NPR and I¬†often go to the gym just to watch the morning news on the treadmill (#truth).

After raving about how cool the Newseum was¬†to my husband after the conference a few years ago, he added it to our list of places to visit. Since we knew we wanted to visit, I purchased our tickets online¬†before we left so I could save 15% ūüôā¬†The Newseum was our first stop from the metro.

  • Tip:¬†If you¬†know you want to visit some place that charges an entrance fee, check the website to see if you can get a discount by purchasing your tickets online.
    • FYI: I also saw that many of the tour companies also offer discounts if you purchase tickets in advance online.

Last visit to the Newseum I ran out of time and didn’t make it all the way to the top floor. I didn’t even realize¬†that the 6th floor had a terrace you could walk out on to overlook Pennsylvania Avenue!

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View from the top of the Newseum

To the left you could see the Capitol!

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View of the Capitol from the Greenspun Family Terrace at the top of the Newseum

And here we are enjoying the view:

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We also took turns posing at the anchor desk in the¬†Interactive Newsroom…like total nerds.

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We probably enjoyed this too much!

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The Civil Rights exhibit is one of my favorites. It’s so powerful. My favorite quote from the exhibit:

“You’ve got to get out there and push and organize and agitate and stand up and make some noise.” – Civil Rights Leader John Lewis

civil rights quote

Another of my favorite exhibits at the Newseum: “First Dogs.”¬†This picture of Lyndon Johnson and his mutt named Yuki is my favorite!

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President Johnson loved to “sing” with Yuki like in the picture (that’s his grandson on the right).

I can’t read the caption from the picture, but wanted to share the story with you [because I loved it!] so I snagged this from the a quick google search (source):

“Yuki was a mixed breed dog found by President Johnson’s daughter, Luci, at a gas station in Texas on Thanksgiving Day in 1966 […] At first, Yuki lived with Luci, but while visiting the White House, Yuki won the President’s heart and became his faithful companion. On the President’s birthday, August 27, 1967, Luci told her father that he could keep Yuki. When President Johnson left office on January 20, 1969, Yuki returned to LBJ Ranch with the President on Air Force One.”

One of my favorite stories found in the News History Gallery: why Helen Thomas started wearing red to press conferences:

red dress

Use what you’ve got to get what you deserve – you go girl!

Visiting the Newseum will give you a very serious new respect for reporters. Many risk their lives to bring us stories from around the world. It’s such an admirable field that gets way too few acknowledgements from the general public. So, to all my reporter-friends: THANK YOU for all you do!

After spending hours exploring all the floors of the Newseum, we were famished.

  • Tip: If you find yourself ravenous and without a plan for where to eat, use the Maps app on your iPhone {yes, in true Millennial fashion, we use our iPhones for everything}. Just open the app and click into the search bar. Some icons will appear – click on “Food” to view restaurants nearby. You can find a link to the restaurant’s website to find a menu and read reviews straight from the app.
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Click into the search bar then click on the Food icon

  • Where to Eat:¬†Cava Mezze Grill! {Drool over the menu here and find a location here}

We ended up at¬†Cava Mezze Grill in Chinatown¬†since it¬†had good ratings online and a tasty menu. It was¬†amazing! It was kind of a build-your-own salad type place. I can’t remember my exact combination, but I know I started with¬†Greens+Grains and roasted seasonal vegetables¬†then topped it with the¬†yogurt dill dressing.

The¬†yogurt dill dressing was what really brought it home – so tasty! {I’m still searching for a copycat recipe so if you have a good one, share it in the comments!}

National Zoo

The National Zoo was on our list because 1) it was free and 2) they have pandas!

The pandas were a little shy during our visit so we patiently stood in a quick-moving line (PS: When you overhear the frantic tourists in front of you exclaim it’s a 30-minute wait, ignore them. The line moves fast). They were inside and only one was really visible in it’s room.

panda

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed that we only saw one of the pandas, but on the way out of the indoor panda exhibit, we saw this:

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“Current panda research underway…”

Watching pandas sleeping?! Best. Job. Ever. RIGHT?!

I mean, look at how sprawled out they all are! They must love to sleep as much as I do!!

{If you’re interested in having our heart turn to mush, you can view the Panda Cams online here!}

We visited the zoo in the afternoon which is either: a) a time the animals are all napping or b) the animals are so shy! Many of the exhibits were empty or the animals were hiding out of sight. It was a little disappointing, but still quite fun (and you can’t really complain when it’s¬†free, right?!).

Lincoln Memorial

After the zoo, we hopped back on the metro and headed to the Lincoln Memorial. It was closer to the Newseum than the Zoo (oops) so I sure am glad we got those metro passes!

When we approached the Lincoln Memorial, we had a beautiful view of the Washington Monument and reflection pool.

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Washington Monument & Reflection Pool

The monuments were¬†so crowded! I’m not a huge fan of big crowds, but I can weave in and out of them quite well (benefits of being short) so I use that to my advantage for picture-taking ūüėČ

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Lincoln Memorial

We sat on the back side of the Lincoln Memorial for a while and watched the traffic while giving our soar feet a little break. It was a peaceful moment in a busy city – if you visit the Lincoln Memorial, walk around to the back side that overlooks the Arlington Bridge and take a few minutes to rest and watch the traffic. It’s quite nice.

To work our way back to Alexandria, we walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the Arlington Cemetery metro stop. Crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge was lovely!

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View from the Arlington Memorial Bridge

Watching the planes fly over the bridge was neat! We even saw Marine One (or maybe it was Marine Two…who knows!) fly overhead. That was exciting!

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Marine One/Two flying over the Arlington Bridge

So we jumped on the metro and headed back to Alexandria where we ate at District Taco – it was pretty tasty, but nothing extraordinary.

My feet were aching so bad by the end of the day I could barely walk {according to my VivoFit, we walked more than 30,000 steps!!}. Luckily, I had the next day to rest them in the car as we headed to Boston!

Stay tuned:¬†I’ll be telling you all about Boston, Salem and Marblehead next week!¬†

Follow along on our Road Trip with these posts: 

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Road Trip Adventures, Stop 1: Alexandria, Virginia

As I mentioned in last month’s post, the Hubs and I took a road trip to Boston for spring break. Now that we’re back and feeling oh-so-refreshed, I wanted to share some trip highlights with you.

I’ve broken our trip into separate posts by location. I’ve sprinkled in travel tips that came in handy for planning our road trip. {PS: I’d¬†love for you to share your travel tips¬†in the comment section at the bottom of this post!}

Today I’m sharing about the first leg of our road trip: our stop in Alexandria, Virginia [with a quick visit to the National Harbor].

On our drive¬†to Boston, we planned a two-day stop in Washington, DC. We booked a room at the¬†Hampon Inn and Suites in Alexandria. The hotel was¬†great! Very friendly staff, clean rooms, comfy bedding – I’d stay there again.

The hotel also offered free parking and a free shuttle to Alexandria/Old Town or the metro. Being that we were going to have plenty of time in the car, we ditched it for two days and utilized the shuttle and the metro.

Friday

We left bright-and-early so we could arrive to DC in the early afternoon.

National Harbor

We had considered staying at the National Harbor (I stayed there when I spoke at Tableau’s conference a few years ago and loved it), but once we¬†factored in paying for daily parking, Alexandria [less than 10 minutes away] won for the budget.

Since we arrived to DC a few hours before hotel check-in, we drove straight to the National Harbor to check that off our “to visit” list.

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National Harbor

If you’re planning to visit DC, you should definitely plan a quick stroll through the National Harbor! It’s a gorgeous area to walk and there are often neat events going on¬†(none for our dates though). It’s a very family-friendly area.

You can find all kinds of helpful information for planning your visit to the National Harbor here.

  • Where to Eat: Nando’s Peri Peri¬†(flavorful Portugese cuisine. The National Harbor location has great outdoor seating).

Alexandria/Old Town

When we decided to stay in Alexandria, I quickly found a site with information for visitors (here!).

  • Tip: When planning a vacation or a stop on your roadtrip, google:
  1. things to do in [CITY, STATE]” – for bigger cities you can often find some great lists or blogs with ideas of cool places to visit, local events or other ideas for¬†things to do you may not have thought of.
  2. visit [CITY, STATE]”¬†– this¬†will usually take you to a visitor’s site for the area. These are a¬†great resource for tourists!¬†I like to find hotel recommendations there [which I then follow-up with reading reviews from several sites like any trained researcher ūüėČ ]. I also like to browse the event calendars to see if there are any unique things going on during the time we’ll be there.

Friday we took the hotel shuttle to downtown Alexandria and explored. We walked along the waterfront and through Founders Park Рit was gorgeous!

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We loved the walking paths and watching the dogs playing in the park. If we had a blanket, we definitely would have had a picnic here!

You can see downtown DC from the waterfront in Alexandria and if you look close enough you can see the Capitol!

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If you’re visiting Alexandria, take some time to walk along the waterfront before the sun goes down – it’s lovely.

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The cobblestone roads reminded me of Charleston. {Note: don’t wear heals!}

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After we’d had fun wandering around, we started looking for a dinner spot. There are lots of yummy options {you can browse some¬†here}, but I did little research on food in Alexandria so we stumbled upon a pizza place without a long line – Bugsy’s¬†–¬†and went for it. We opened the menu only to find out the restaurant¬†was opened by a former Montreal Canadien‘s hockey player {the Hubs’ favorite hockey team as shown ironically by his attire for the evening!}

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I spotted a beautiful paper shop across the street as soon as we left the restaurant.¬†Have you ever visited a Paper Source¬†store?! This was my first time. It’s definitely paper heaven.

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Yes, I admit it: I wish these were fabric. I would’ve bought them all! ūüėČ

We picked up some quirky birthday and mother’s day cards before heading back.

Saturday

We got up bright and early [again] to maximize our day Рwe had a lot planned!

  • Tip: If your hotel offers free breakfast, take advantage of that! One less meal and coffee to purchase¬†=¬†more souvenir money!¬†If you’re brave, snag an apple/banana/other non-refrigerated snacks to throw in your backpack for the day ahead.

Alexandria’s visitor site¬†has a list of free things to do which was super helpful! I’m much more inclined to do something if it’s free ūüėČ [again: free events = more souvenir money].

On the list: the Old Town Farmers Market. We took the hotel shuttle to Alexandria early Saturday morning after breakfast. The shuttle dropped us right in front of the market which was full of beautiful flowers, locally grown produce, plants and handmade goodies. It was beautiful!

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Flowers at the Old Town Farmers Market

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More flowers at the Old Town Farmers Market {with festive bunnies for Easter!}

While walking to the King Street metro station from the market, we passed loads of beautiful shops. The area reminds me so much of Charleston with all the colorful buildings.

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If we hadn’t have set out so early, I would’ve loved to explore the Pendleton store!

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I’ve never been to a Pendleton store, but from the window it looked fabulous!

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That dress! And that sweater! #AllTheHeartEyes

After getting an all-day pass for the metro (it was about $15, but with destinations on our list that were spread out this proved to be worth it), we set off for downtown DC!

Stay tuned: I’ll share the details of¬†our DC exploration this Friday.¬†

Follow along on our Road Trip with these posts: