Washington, D.C. isn’t your typical honeymoon destination. Especially not in January. Josh and I received quite a few quizzical looks when we announced our choice destination to our family and friends, but it was easily one of the best vacations either of us had ever had. Yes, we could have gone somewhere tropical and warm, but truth be told, neither of us are beach people (and we both have a hard time sitting around doing nothing). This is our D.C. story, filled with lots of walking and pictures, so bear with us, because the experience was truly an incredible one.
So how did we decide on D.C.? It definitely wasn’t our first thought that’s for sure. We originally thought about spending some time in Key West, but pale Irish people like me have a hard time not getting fried. So we crossed that off the list. We really wanted to go somewhere that would have plenty of things to do- attractions, historical sites, good food, etc. We then worked our way up the south-east coast line considering places like Savannah and Charleston- destinations that are chock-full of history but have a warmer climate than good old Ohio. After tracing the coastline on Google Maps, we stumbled upon Washinton, D.C. and had one of those “light bulb” moments. There was plenty to do in Washington D.C., there was bound to be great food, we could walk just about anywhere (or if we got tired, we could wrangle the metro…), and it could be a little bit warmer than Ohio… We were sold! We booked our tickets and once 5:00am, December 30th rolled around, we were ready to hit the ground running.
Our first stop, after taking a much needed nap at the hotel…the flight to D.C. was my least favorite part of the week… was ironically, the Air and Space Museum. The cool thing about where we stayed was that it took about 2 minutes to walk here- including when we stopped to gawk at the Capital Building. 2 minutes! We quite literally walked out of our hotel, up two blocks, and were on the steps of the Air and Space Museum. Talk about convenience!
We spent most of the morning and afternoon just taking in the different exhibits in the building (which is WAY bigger than I remember…). They had exhibits on everything from Wilbur and Orville’s first flight in Kitty Hawk to Naval air craft carriers to the different NASA space missions. It was beyond cool. We were able to jump on a tour as they were going into the Wright Brother’s exhibit, and I think I learned more about that first flight and how their plane worked than I did in any Ohio History class that I ever took. The tour guides were simply phenomenal.
The next morning we were up bright and early for our Capital Building tour that our Senator Sherrod Brown’s office hooked us up with. Again, we were able to walk right to the Capital from our hotel. The picture above on the left is our view of the Capital as we walked out of our hotel, definitely a perk of staying the week on Capital Hill!
Once inside, we were able to take in the new visitor center (new to me, since the last time I had been to D.C., it was under construction.). Flawless, is how I would describe it. The marble and granite atrium was stunning. The tour of the Capital was interesting to say the least. We definitely learned a lot and we had the sweetest old lady for a tour guide. I think the most moving part of the whole tour was at the end when she told us of her experience the day of 9/11. It brought tears to my eyes, and is a story I will always remember.
After our tour we grabbed a bite to eat in the visitor’s center (Freedom Fries for me, thank you!) and then popped upstairs for a look in the Senate Chamber. Mind you, we were in the Capital during the “Fiscal Cliff Crisis”, so naturally, we thought we’d be able to see some big wigs duking it out in the chamber. Not so much. It was quite empty, with a handful of aids manning the desk up front (and we were more than willing to bet that at least one of them was playing Angry Birds… the next day the “crisis” was averted, so I won’t be too upset with the aid playing Angry birds…)
Once we were through at the Capital building, we walked through the tunnel to the Library of Congress. Oh. My. Goodness. I have never seen a more beautiful library, let alone building in my life. I faintly remember having to pick up my jaw from the floor when we walked into the atrium. It was beautiful. There was mosaic tile along all of the ceilings and floors, each depicting different genres, sub-categories, quotes, and titles of chapters from the Bible. Word’s cannot express how beautiful I found this building. And it wasn’t even where they kept the books! I was astounded.
One particular area, off the main atrium, I found a little mosaic quote on the wall. It read, “Give instruction unto those who cannot procure it for themselves.” -Confucius. As a librarian, this struck me because in this simple sentence, my entire profession can summed up beautifully. I loved it. I plan on framing that picture and putting it in my office.
From the library, we walked to Union Station to meet up with Josh’s cousin, Billy, who was kind enough to give us a tour of the his neighborhood, DuPont Circle, and even showed us how to use the metro! We took a drive through Embassy Row with Billy and he pointed out all the different embassies and how some of the buildings were meant to represent the countries they represented. We even drove my Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home in D.C.! Although no one was home, Hillary was in the hospital at this point in time.
The next day, after learning to use the metro, we took it out to Georgetown. A quaint little college town, yes. But a very, very wealthy area. The main reason we took a day trip to Georgetown was because I
wanted needed Sprinkles Cupcakes. Absolutely. Needed. So after we had a couple of delicious burgers up the road at Thunder Burger, we walked over to Sprinkles for some dessert. They were how I picture heaven to be- covered in delicious icing and oh so very sweet. Well worth the metro ride up to Georgetown. We even brought some cupcakes back to the hotel with us… for later of course!
We then walked around Georgetown for a bit, and we were reminded of home. You see, downtown Georgetown (hey, that rhymed!), is a lot like Easton. The types of shops, the clientele, everything about it screamed Easton to us so we were right at home. After a bit of shopping around — looking for a Kirk Cousins jersey (Redskin fever had struck D.C., but no one seemed to know who the back up quarter back was… gee thanks RG3) to no avail. We wrapped up our shopping extravaganza and headed back to Capital Hill.
That night we ventured away from our hotel and took a walk down the National Mall to take in some of the monuments. It was a brisk night, but seeing the monuments lit up at night was quite romantic. We walked the mile (only a mile!) to the Washington Monument. Sadly, since the earthquake, they won’t be able to take tours up to the top for another 2 years. Since it was night, it was a little difficult to snap a good picture of the monument but we definitely had fun trying! (Note to self: google how to take pictures at night…) On our way to the Lincoln Memorial, we stumbled upon a beautiful memorial for World War II. It’s one of the newest memorials so it wasn’t quite finished where it connects to the reflecting pool. It was one of those monuments that makes you stop and think about the sacrifices that have been made to create such a wonderful country that we live in.
We spent a good majority of the next day taking in the American History Museum. Which was hands down my favorite museum in D.C. We particularly spent a lot of time in the transportation exhibit where they had a mock up of Chicago’s “L”, and a full size train engine in the building, as well as plenty of automobile memorabilia. I’m pretty sure Josh thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit.
Also at the American History Museum is the original Star Spangled Banner, as in the very same one that inspired our national anthem by Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Fort McHenry. It was moving. Seeing something so worn and well loved that inspires a whole country. We couldn’t take photos of it, but we did score a postcard with a picture of it. Almost the same thing, right?
We spent one of our final days in D.C. at the Natural History Museum. We definitely had a couple of exhibits that we had to see- such as the dinosaurs, Hope Diamond, and the Hall of Mammals, but my favorite part was the elephant in the rotunda. It was just the coolest thing seeing that elephant in the middle of the building (I am kind of in love with elephants, by the way…). They had plenty of exhibits, we just didn’t spend as much time in here due to the overflowing amount of children running around. Which is our price to pay, for going to a very kid friendly museum on a Saturday morning…
Speaking of kid friendly museums, we spent one afternoon at the International Spy Museum down the road from Ford’s Theatre. It’s not part of the Smithsonian so there is an admission fee. We went mainly for the exhibit on Bond Villains, not so much to learn how to be a spy…
One afternoon we spent at Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown. Which is such a somber experience, that I recommend it to almost everyone. We spent the next hour or so wandering through the cemetery, pausing at significant sites, such as the USS Maine, Columbia and Discovery Memorials, and the eternal flame at JFK’s tomb. I feel quite deeply that everyone needs to experience Arlington at least once in their lives, to see the true cost of freedom.
That night, we had dinner at Pentagon City, which is basically a five-story mall. Intense. I thought the mall at Polaris was something to talk about. This mall dwarfed Polaris. There was so much to do and see, it was totally sensory overload. To the max! We did a little bit of shopping before calling it a night and taking the metro back to our hotel for the night.
One morning we took a tour of the White House, courtesy of Sherrod Brown once again. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the mansion, but I was able to grab these once we got outside. We thought it was somewhat comical that it was a self-guided tour but secret service were in each room to answer any questions we might have. Glorified tour guides! It was pretty awesome.
By far, our favorite experience was the night we got all gussied up to have a nice dinner and see a play. We had stumbled upon a little theatre in Chinatown on our way to the International Spy Museum and saw a theatre troupe was in town performing C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. Needless to say, we were sold.
That night for dinner we went to Matchbox, a small chain of nice restaurants in the D.C. area for a nice dinner. Naturally we told our waitress, who was such a dear, that we were in D.C. on our honeymoon (and initially got one of the weird/surprised looks), and she gave us the best dining experience ever. Apparently she told the head chef that we were honeymooners and at the end of our meal (the scallops are delicious, by the way) she brought out a dessert dish of pure deliciousness. Something that wasn’t even on the menu that the chef made specially for us. Afterwards, the chef actually came out and talked to us, to say thanks for coming out to the restaurant and wanted to know what we thought of the dessert. They definitely made us feel special that night!
After dinner we walked down the street to the theatre for our play. Josh and I are big Lewis fans, The Screwtape Letters being one of our all time favorites. The play was beyond fantastic. Screwtape and Toadpipe we phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. I would love to see the play again. The play was written in such a way that made the themes and story accessible to the entire audience, it was a wonderful experience. I would see it again… and again… and again…. which in my book is what truly makes a play excellent.
Following the play, we learned that the playwright was currently working on another adaptation of Lewis’s works, The Great Divorce… I think I see a trip to New York on the horizon…
One thing that we made a point to do was right postcards for each day and send them home! For every day, we chose a postcard of a place we visited that day and wrote down things we saw or did that day. It’s a great way to remember our trip and a cost effective souvenir idea! Plus, it’s really nice to have a bunch of postcards waiting for you when you come home from your trip to relive! I have plans to do this for our vacations now for our family… Some of these postcards might even make it into a frame for our gallery wall eventually….!
If you can’t tell, we did a lot while in D.C… Somethings didn’t even make it into this post! But even after all of that, we still feel as though we have barely scratched the surface of things to do in Washington D.C. Not even close to it. The trip was truly wonderful. The weather was between 40 and 50 degrees the entire week we were there (compared to the 6 inches of snow we had, I won’t complain at all!) and it was D.C.’s off-season, meaning that the museums weren’t that crowded and we were able to do so much more than if we were to have visited the same city in the spring or summer. It was by far one of the best vacations we had ever had, bar none. We loved it there and even imagined what it would like to live there… maybe someday!
Have you ever been to D.C.? What was your favorite part of the city? Or, do you have a favorite vacation that you’ve been on? We’re curious to start exploring ideas for our next vacation…!
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