Heading To Washington DC
It was a long time between our fall trip to the Baltics and our spring exploration in Central Europe. But city breaks kept our travel urges at bay. Chicago was a new discovery for us. NYC for the holiday season got us ready for Christmas. We were a bit worried that things would be shut down for the holiday. But we found so many things to do in Washington. And by no means did we see it all.
And a visit to Washington DC over the Easter Weekend let us get an early touch of spring. We were not happy to find snow still settling on the ground in Toronto. Washington DC is an easy trip from Toronto. The flight was just over an hour. We chose the right airport when we decided to fly into Reagan National Airport. It was a short Uber ride to our hotel.
This was our first trip in this busy travel year that would start our journey towards SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) platinum loyalty status. There were lots of hotels to choose from but we decided to stay at the Westin Georgetown. The hotel was close to transit and offered everything we needed for an extra long weekend visit. It was a great surprise when we got a perfect welcome amenity to help us settle in.
SPG guests had a dedicated floor in this hotel. Our room had a great deep soaker tub. The first thing we did once we were settled in was to head to the drug store for epsom salts. There were two right close to the hotel to let us stock up on the things we never pack when we travel.
A deep soaking bathtub saved my legs after all the walking we did. There were lots of things to do in Washington DC. This meant we definitely put a lot of steps on our fitness bands!
1) Get Up Early For The Sunrise
The morning that called for bright sunshine all day, David set the alarm and slipped out of bed at 4:30. The streets were deserted as he walked from Georgetown to catch the sunrise on the Washington monuments. He arrived while it was still dark and caught some very early morning shots.
Several times he shifted spots to catch just the right image as the sun slowly came up. Even at that early hour, he was not alone.
When the sun broke the horizon, the monuments were lit with the morning light. The city was silhouetted against the sky. The pink cherry blossoms could just be detected.
I was so excited to see his pictures when he finally got back to the hotel. If you want some perfectly stunning views, make sure that at least one early morning start is on your list of things to do in Washington DC.
2) Find An Interesting Exhibit
We often look for special events when we visit a new town. The Burning Man “No Spectators” Exhibit had just opened at the Renwick Gallery as we arrived. We visited the Burning Man Exhibit on the first morning for a great view of this desert phenomena. And the art that is such an integral part of it.
After seeing the indoor exhibits, we wandered around to catch several of the outdoor art pieces that were part of the Burning Man exhibit.
We were definitely glad we saw this fantastic exhibit. Planning to attend special events is one of the great things to do in Washington DC. There is always something interesting happening!
3) Splurge On Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea is a treat when often indulge in. It is particularly fun when we can plan to have Afternoon Tea with other travel bloggers in a new city. We were delighted to be able to share Afternoon Tea and champagne at the St Regis Washington with Nicki.
We talked for hours about travel and travel blogging. It was so great to meet up with someone so successful in leveraging social media in the luxury travel space. When a chime went off at 6pm, we were treated to a St Regis Washington special event. A special sabre is used to cut off the top of a champagne bottle (sabrage). And then we had more champagne.
Afternoon Tea and champagne at the St Regis Washington was a great way to splurge. It is something to plan on your list of things to do in Washington DC.
4) Eat Well Even On A Keto Diet
When we headed to Washington, we were still on our low carb keto diet. Our Afternoon Tea and champagne at the St Regis was our one real indulgence during the trip. Diet requirements meant we went looking for protein and tried to avoid the tasty carbs we liked.
We started our day with a good breakfast. We did not take a breakfast package with the hotel but there were lots of places close by to get a great omelette. Bread and Chocolate was close by. If we avoided the bread and the chocolate, we had a great low carb breakfast. Many days it was hard to pass by the sweet counter. The local fire house had a great restaurant in the squash club on top of it. It was also a great spot for a real pulled espresso.
Lunch we often took on the run. We were amazed at how many food trucks we found. This was the perfect solution when we emerged from the Air and Space Museum starving.
David pre-planned a great birthday celebration dinner at The Prime Rib. They claim to have the best prime rib in the world. Every part of our dinner was delicious. We had to pass on their homemade bread to soak up the tasty garlic butter with the escargots. But my shrimps were much better dipped in the garlic butter. My prime rib was perfect. And the homemade dark chocolate gelato was well worth the splurge.
We enjoyed a great seafood dinner at the Grillfish. We had a good variety of fish to satisfy our cravings. And it was all fresh and served piping hot.
And like we often do when we travel, we had several meals as picnics in our room. There was a Trader Joes grocery close to the hotel. It was a great way to stock up on snack food and fresh food for salads.
We had a long list of restaurant recommendations. We ran out of meals to try them all. But eating well is one of the things to do in Washington.
5) Indulge The Inner Geek
Even though I am an engineer and technology executive, I don’t often think of myself as a geek. But of course we planned to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the first day. For David and I, the race to space is something we remember well. Added to that, David and I met when we were both doing flight school to become private pilots. The Air and Space Museum was the place for us.
We had both visited the Air and Space museum before but it was the first time we visited together. The museum plan helped us to identify the rooms we wanted to visit. The evolution of flight fascinated me. David was drawn to the space exhibits. As a former Naval Officer, David recalled his training as we walked through the time and navigation display. A stop beside the NCC Enterprise kept David’s Star Trek geekiness happy!
We lined up to see the IMAX show on aircraft carriers. We hoped to see lots of fast flying jets. While it was a fascinating look at the engineering of the massive ships, it did not bring the adrenaline we had hoped for.
If you like to visit museums, one or more of the Smithsonian museums should be on your list of things to do in Washington DC.
6) Plan A Visit For Cherry Blossoms
Cherry blossom season was definitely a key thing that drove our timing for our visit to Washington DC. Due to a freak snow storm, we arrived just a little early to catch the city in full bloom. But everywhere we went we saw Washington in bloom.
While we saw lots of trees in bloom, we also got a great early view of spring. Toronto was still getting snow but Washington in April was green and verdant.
Seeing the spring blossoms in so many great settings is definitely one of the things to do in Washington DC.
7) Stroll In A Garden
We headed out of the main downtown area to explore Dumbarton Gardens. The visit was done predominantly to see the blossoms in flower. Some of the trees had already dropped their leaves and others had just started to bloom. But we got a great colourful display.
But seeing the gardens is not the only reason to visit Dumbarton Gardens. You can stroll through Bliss House with a separate entrance fee. But even though we didn’t go in the house, we walked around the grounds. The pool, terrace and pebble garden were interesting to see.
We ventured to the lower level and got an amazing view of a colourful scene on the wall by the pool (Diana and Actaeon Tile Mosaic By Loggia by Allyn Cox).
It was still early in the season when we visited. Plan a visit later in the year to catch the gardens in full bloom. This is something we would certainly add to your things to do in Washington DC list.
8) See The Iconic Washington Monuments
No visit to Washington is complete without seeing the major buildings, monuments and memorials in Washington DC. Many of the major ones are in the large area around the Washington Mall and the Tidal Basin.
But no matter where we walked, we found other monuments and memorials that marked key events or figures in American life.
Remembering the history through the buildings, memorials and monuments is one of the things to do in Washington that you can’t avoid.
9) Watch The Sun Set
Our first sunset in Washington was from the rooftop of the W Hotel in the POV Lounge. We just caught the edges of the White House as the sun set below the buildings.
We literally ran along the Washington Mall to get to the Reflecting Pond for sunset. The sun dropped quickly behind the Washington Monument. As the sun sunk below the horizon, the light was reflected in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It was definitely worth the run.
Finish your day with a great sunset. This is one of the things to do in Washington DC that offers you such a variety of images to capture.
So Many Things To Do In Washington DC
We had no problem finding things to do in Washington DC. There is a wide variety to keep everyone interested and engaged. We were grateful that Nicki provided a great list of suggestions for us to use.
It was great to visit Washington DC as cherry blossom season began. One week later and we would have been engulfed in blooms and smells. But the green spring atmosphere was so much better than cold grey Toronto.
It was easy to move around to see the things to do in Washington DC. Public buses and the subway stopped close to the hotel. The Circulator buses were another option in each area of Washington DC. We used Uber extensively to get around. It was never more than a 5 minute wait. And rates were reasonable.
We were so glad we squeezed in a long long weekend to enjoy the things to do in Washington DC. We only scraped the surface. It is a short flight from Toronto. We will be back!
What is in your list of things to do in Washington DC? What would you give a pass?