Earlier this month, my husband and I spent a few days in Washington D.C. and I have to say it is a perfect destination for a long weekend. The quick, inexpensive flights from Boston were definitely our biggest draw and when we saw that the St. Regis was offering a discounted rate we pulled the trigger and started planning for a weekend in our nation's capital. There is so much to do in D.C. so you should really decide ahead of time what you want to get out of the trip. Since I knew this would a place we would probably return to someday given how close it is, I decided not to do everything this time and focus only on a couple museums (totally unlike me) balanced out by some good eating, drinking & exploring. Getting to D.C. is easy, especially from the Northeast, and flights can be pretty cheap if you hit it right. We went in the beginning of September which is still on the hot side for D.C. so prices were pretty cheap. We coped by making stops into cute shops for their a/c or a bar for a cold drink. There are a few airports that serve D.C. but you definitely want to fly into Reagan National (DCA) since it is the closest to downtown and therefore the most convenient. Score a window seat and you get to see a preview of the monuments as you land. Once you step off the plane, a quick metro ride brings you downtown.
The area we stayed in was very centrally located, being only a few blocks from the White House, but was technically considered Downtown D.C. which is the financial/business district so it was pretty quiet on the weekend. We ended up doing a lot of walking to other parts of the city or taking the metro, which had a stop right near the hotel. Here are my highlights and reccos from the weekend.
One of my favorite areas of D.C. and a great place to stroll during the day is the Georgetown neighborhood. Stroll the main drag (M Street & Wisconsin Ave) for some shopping and restaurants and veer off down the cobblestone streets lined with old colonial homes (O Street), some of which have working gaslamps by their front door, how cool! The Georgetown campus is all the way at the end of O Street at 37th Street and is beautiful, especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. This neighborhood definitely has a younger feel, thanks to the college students that live here but don't let that deter you.
My absolute favorite neighborhood that you cannot miss, especially for eating and drinking, is Logan Circle. It has a slightly older vibe than Georgetown (think young-professional) and 14th Street is hopping with hip restaurants and bars. We walked around this area a bit and discovered so many fun-looking places. I can't wait to go back and spend more time here.
Anyway, if you're into craft beer, stop into Birch & Barley for dinner or the bar upstairs at Churchkey, which shares the same owner. We were drawn to Birch & Barley, not just because of its beer list of over 500 craft brews but because of its farm-to-table, seasonal fare. Everything from the homemade buttermilk biscuits to the chicken-of-the-woods mushroom risotto was fabulous.
Another cool place is Ghibellina. We only stopped in for a glass of wine but it was a hip little joint serving up Tuscan-fare. We saw the pizzas being served with scissors for cutting, which was a neat touch, and I especially loved the interior-- exposed brick walls with a rustic, wooden-beamed ceiling, and a marble bar. We will definitely be back here to have dinner.
We also walked by Le Diplomat, a brasserie serving up classic French fare, which seemed like another great place. At a quick glance, you'd think you're in Paris with the red awnings and cafe chairs outside. I heard the brunch here is one of the best but I'd also like to check it out for dinner because it was quite lively.
A great way to start your Saturday or Sunday is having brunch at Founding Farmers, a hopping spot located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood a few blocks West of the White House. It has a rustic, farmhouse interior and serves up delicious comfort food. This place was so popular that we could see the crowds lined up outside from blocks away. Reservations are a must and will be your best bet at scoring a table. We did not have a reservation and we were starving (recipe for disaster and amateur move), but miraculously 2 spots opened up at the bar as soon as we were ready to abandon ship. We threw a few elbows and probably made a few enemies but it was well worth it.
THE SMITHSONIAN AIR & SPACE MUSEUMS
I've always been fascinated by air and space travel so we decided to check out the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Some of the highlights include the lunar module from the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the exhibition on the Golden Age of flight and the section on America by Air. I especially loved seeing the stewardess uniforms from the 60's. But my absolute favorite was our visit to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia right next to Dulles International Airport. If you're even a little interested in aviation and space travel, you should rent a car and see this place. Highlights include an Air France Concorde supersonic jet, a Blackbird, many WWII aircrafts including German Nazi planes, and the space shuttle Discovery. You can also go up to the top of an observation tower for a view of planes landing and taking off at Dulles. The tower is even plugged into air traffic control at Dulles so you can listen to communications with pilots about to land. In just 5 minutes, I saw a Lufthansa Boeing 747 take off for Germany and an Air France Airbus A380, the largest commercial jet, land after a 7 hour journey from Paris Charles de Gaulle. Pretty sweet.
D.C. might often times get overlooked as a place to visit but for a long weekend it was the perfect little getaway offering great dining options and trendy neighborhoods. Oh and lots and lots of airplanes.