Lauren will learn about the branches of government this year in school so I thought it would be educational to take a trip to Washington DC. Gives her a little headstart and will make it easier to understand when they start learning. Plus I’d never been and always wanted to go!
I did a lot of research beforehand and found a great deal on Hotels.com for the Country Inn and Suites in Camp Springs by the Andrews Airforce Base. It was a fabulous location, seconds from the Branch Ave Metro stop that took us straight downtown. The hotel was very clean and the staff was beyond helpful. I was expecting the worst due to the price and not the greatest reviews; but it was great and looked remodeled.
Its a little over 8 hours to get to DC so I left about midnight and drive straight out. Basically two interstates all the way there, so that was simple. We couldn’t check into the hotel until noon so we stopped at the National Zoo. They open at 6am to walk around, but most of the exhibits open at 10am. It was a decent zoo. Smaller and less exciting then the Cicninnati Zoo I’m use to, but the national zoo is also free since it’s part of the Smithsonian museums. (All those are FREE in Washington DC!) They did have a giant panda though and that was rare. There are only 4 in captivity in North America, and they are endangered. The thing to remember with the National Zoo- yes it is free- but parking is a flat rate- of $22!!!! Oh well, we killed enough time before our hotel.
Our first meal was at the Texas Ribs & BBQ of Clinton. Our hotel told us it was on Diners, Drive-In, and Dives, so of course we went. The food was massive in size and super tasty. One of the better BBQ places I’ve ever been to. My only grip is when I asked for onion rings instead of fries for Laurens chicken, the waitress didn’t tell me it was $7.99 for the onion rings. I think I ate like 1 because I was full. Had I known i was $8 to swap them out, I wouldn’t have. I mentioned it, but she just shrugged her shoulders, so I ended up paying for it.
After that we hopped on the Metro and went to explore all the famous DC sites. I wont go into too much detail because they are pretty self explanatory. We hit everything up. The Mall, Washinton monument, the Capitol, the white house, the world war memorials and the Korean war memorials, Iwo Jima memorial, MLK memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. Lots of walking but well worth it. At the Arlington Cemetery we were lucky enough to stumble onto Marine graduation and meet a lot of the brave men. We also saw a very somber funeral that made us both cry. It was a very emotional and exciting day.
The second day was the Capitol Tour. You can go up to the capitol and pay for a tour but I arranged ours through my state senators office. They also arranged a White house tour for us. (Mitch McConnell) I’m so glad I did, because the aide/guide was amazing! We got to see so many things not on regular tours like the burial site made for Washington that he refused. She let us walk down the steps that every president has walked down to give their inauguration speeches. Then as a giant bonus she let us onto Speaker Boehners balcony. Its in the front of the capitol and the view is AMAZING!!!!!
We ate at the historic Bullfeathers. I got a Pastrami Burger which kicked butt. Lauren got wings of course, but then a bacon pancake milkshake. I thought it was gross, she loved it.
The White House tour was neat because it was the White house! How cool is it to say that we’ve been inside. However, there is only a few rooms they will let you in, and you can not take pictures. It is swarming with Secret Service men so I couldn’t get any. (Believe me I tried.) Everything was behind rope so we weren’t able to touch and the important rooms were all off limit. We saw old rooms that aren’t used anymore. I was really hoping to see the oval office, but that was a HUGE no. It was nice to be in there, I just expected more I guess.
Our last night day in DC we hit up the Space and Aero museum. (FREE!) It was really neat. I wish we had another day so we could have went to the other 6 free Smithsonian museums but we didn’t . The Space museum had a real part of planes she got to go into. As well as real shuttles and space rovers. It was awesome. We could have spent the whole day just in there! She was beside herself because she got to touch a piece of the moon. (a rock)
Last stop was Chinatown. Totally different than NYC chinatown and honestly a little disappointing. Everyone said to go to Matchbox but it was pizza. I couldn’t get pizza in china town. You have to get chinese food. So we went to Tony Cheng Seafood restaurant. Kinda sketchy upstairs from a Mongolian place. But the Walnut honey shrimp we shared was BANGING! These were the biggest shrimp I had ever seen and there were a lot of them.
Dc was great. I think we saw most of what we wanted to see. I wish we had booked maybe an extra day or two to get through all the museums and food. On the way back from Ocean City (3 hours away) we stopped and went to the National Harbor and ate at the Top Food truck in DC. The lobster sliders were so damn good. I could eat them everyday. And the harbor was sweet too. Lots of restaurants, a big outdoor TV we watched the soccer game on, a ferris wheel, and giant sand playgrounds.