A long weekend in Washington DC

Washington DC is a must see.  It is the nation’s capital, giving tribute to the United States and those who founded her.  The monuments, memorials, and museums  elicit an emotional response, making Washington DC a unique experience. PS.  It’s also mostly free!

Summary:

3 nights in Washington DC (Nov 8 – Nov 11, 2017)

Cost (for 2): $950 + Food

Stayed: Fairmont Washington DC, Georgetown

Flights: JetBlue Boston (BOS) to Washington Reagan (DCA)

Must Sees:

  • Holocaust Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • WWII Memorial

Must Eats:

  • Farmer’s Fishers Bakers- Georgetown
  • Old Ebbitt Grill, Downtown
  • Hive Bar- Foggy Bottom

Why Washington DC?

We were heading to a wedding at the Fairmont in Georgetown.  While I had grown up in the area, my husband had never been so it was a great opportunity to play tourist.

When was the trip and final cost?

Nov 8- Nov 11, 2017 (Wednesday to Saturday)

Cost: $950 + Food

Accommodations and Travel

We flew down from Boston directly to Washington Reagan National.  Typically when I travel to the area, I prefer to fly into Washington Dulles because I find it tends to be a little less expensive; however, to avoid needing to rent a car, we flew right into the heart of the city and then took the metro to the hotel.  I booked the hotel directly with the Fairmont since we were guests of a wedding party and the flight directly with JetBlue.

  • Boston to Washington Reagan National ($292 for 2)
    • Jetblue Flight: 1689 5:01 am departure
    • Jetblue Flight: 390 8:00 am departure
  • The Fairmont Washington DC, Georgetown ($650)

The flights were both uneventful with a quick trip of only about 1:15 hr.  When going for a long weekend, I prefer to take early morning flights for both arrival and final departure.  The flights tend to be the cheapest of the day as well as the most likely to leave on time (the plane already there from the previous night).  Additionally, the hotel tends to be your largest expense, so by arriving early, you get the benefit of enjoying  a full day at your location without having to pay for the previous evening accommodations.    For this flight, we were on the ground around 6:30 am, grabbed the metro directly to the hotel, checked our bags with the concierge, and went out to explore.  I have never found a hotel that will not take your bags, even if your room is not ready and I would say 50% of the time, a room is already ready and you can check in.

On departure, leaving early enables me to get home and settle back into the routine before having to return to work.  I know many people take the last possible flight from their destination, but for me, knowing that I need to travel, takes away my enjoyment of the day itself, having to always watch the clock, so I’d rather get home and settle back into life.  This is strictly a personal preference.

The Fairmont Washington DC, Georgetown, is a beautiful hotel in a great location.  Georgetown is about 1.1 miles from the downtown Washington DC Mall area so within walking distance but also only 0.4 miles from Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station which can bring you anywhere in the city. 

Although more expensive, when visiting an urban area, I prefer to stay downtown, within walking distance to my main attractions.  This prevents me from having to worry about driving/parking in a city that I am not familiar and is better for experiencing everything that the city has to offer.  This particular hotel is also only 1 block from a Trader Joe’s which we frequented for refreshments, breakfast and quick eats, helping us save money during the stay.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Travel, Explore Georgetown, Rehearsal Dinner

Day 2: Natural History Museum, Wedding

Day 3: Walking tour of downtown

Day 4: Travel Home

Day 1: Travel and Explore Georgetown

After arrival, we jumped on the metro and took it to Foggy Bottom, where we made the quick walk over to the Fairmont.  They were kind enough to take our luggage, but our room was not yet available (being only about 8:00 am) so we strapped on our walking shoes and headed into Georgetown.  Georgetown is a vibrant section of the city with numerous restaurants, shops, beautiful and wealthy residential streets, and Georgetown University.  We spent our morning, stretching our legs and walking around the area, stopping in shops, grabbing coffees, exploring the university campus and vibrant city streets and waterfront.  For lunch, we stopped at El Centro on Wisconsin for some tacos.  The food was ok and there was a fun vibe with a rustic modern feel.  While not active at 12:00pm on a Wednesday, there was a dance floor down below that you could tell would be busy later in the week. 

After lunch, we were called that our room was ready so we headed back to the hotel to relax.  We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the hotel gym, salt water pool, and sauna, making a quick stop out to Trader Joe’s for some snacks and morning essentials.  Then we got ready for the wedding rehearsal dinner at La Chaumiere in Georgetown.  

Day 2: Natural History Museum, Wedding

If you have never been to Washington DC, you have to explore the Smithsonian museums.  There is something for everyone from Air and Space, Natural history, American history, African American History, Postal Services, US Archives, American Indian, and the list goes on and on.  The beauty of these museums is that they are all free and open to the public ; however, because of this, the lines to get into the museums can be long so you want to plan ahead and be prepared to wait.  From my experience, the Natural history,  American History, and Air and Space are the most popular with the longest lines while most of the others you will be able to walk right in.  That being said, the Natural History is my personal favorite.

While we were only able to hit one museum on this trip, Washington DC can easily be a full week vacation, exploring several of these museums as well as a few non-Smithsonian’s that are well worth a visit.  The US Holocaust Museum is a must.  This museum is also free but requires a reservation which are often booked well in advance, so plan ahead and reserve your spot.  Additionally, the international spy museum ($25 pp) is supposed to be wonderful and is still high on my list.

After a day of museum exploration, we were back to the hotel to get ready for a beautiful wedding.

Day 3: Walking tour of downtown

No Washington DC trip is complete without exploration of the many memorials and monuments.  On almost all of our trips, we will have some long walking days and today was about 8 miles but enabled us to see everything that we wished.  Sites seen:

  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool
  • Korean Memorial
  • WWI Memorial
  • WWII Memorial
  • Washington Monument (Capital Building and The White House from afar)
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • The White House, Lafayette Square, Black Lives Matter

Each of these memorials and monuments are beautifully crafted, structural and architectural art.  Each is unique but all elicit an emotional response as you think about the significance of persons and the period of time.  This tour gives you a true feeling for the founding and history of our country. 

The most iconic are the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool (think Forest Gump), WWII Memorial, Washington Monument and White House.  While I have done it before, I would not recommend wasting the energy to walk down to the Capital building.  You can get many beautiful views and photos from across the Washington Mall and while it looks nearby, it is several miles out of the way of everything else.  Be sure to stop frequently during your journey as the city’s layout enables you to get beautiful views of all the iconic buildings from several different locations and vantage points. 

It is worth noting that food around the mall area is scarce with very few restaurants; however, the Old Ebbitt Grill, is near the White House and is the oldest bar in the country’s capital.  While it has moved a few times over its history, it still holds the old architecture and feel of an 1800s saloon, making it the perfect place to stop during your historical city exploration.  Due to its iconic nature, the Old Ebbitt Grill is often crowded so plan to wait or make a reservation.

After the long day exploring, we stopped at the Hive Bar in Foggy Bottom on our way back to the hotel.  This spot had excellent pizza (as well as other things) that you could take out or enjoy in their beautiful  industrial space.

Day 4: Travel Home, Have more time??

On day 4 we took an early flight home; however, if you have more time to visit Washington DC and the surrounding area, there is plenty more to explore.  Adventure through more of the Smithsonian properties or additional experiences I would recommend:

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