Welcome to Washington DC! This year Cassandra and I spent some time during the Holidays in the festive metropolis of our nation’s capitol. It would take weeks to see everything this dynamic city has to offer. We covered as much ground as possible during our two night stay. We wanted to make sure we had a great location so we could walk to many of the main attractions. We decided on the W Hotel on 15th st. Known as the Washington Hotel since 1918, this iconic building was bought by Starwood Resorts in 2008. The closest hotel to the White House, the Starwood is home to the iconic rooftop POV bar that offers amazing panoramic views of the U.S. Treasury, White House and Executive Building. We were overjoyed with our 9th floor suite that looked out over the National Mall and the Washington Monument.
Our first stop was to get some lunch at Old Ebbit Grill. Established in 1856, Old Ebbit’s has been a beacon for politicians, diplomats and military elite. We enjoyed a traditional British tea with delectable local cheeses and jams as our starter. We followed that with their renowned Oysters Rockefeller and finished with a spectacular veggie frittata. After lunch we walked to the Washington Monument. Our plan was to go all the way to the top. That plan was quickly derailed. As soon as we reached the visitor’s center we discovered it was being renovated and would not reopen until 2018. No worries, there were plenty of monuments to discover. We headed east for the Lincoln Memorial. On the way we passed the World War Two Memorial. It was an amazing tribute to the U.S. soldiers who gave everything on the battle field.
A tranquil reflecting pool connects the WWII Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial. We walked along a wooded trail and enjoyed the birds and squirrels on a beautiful 50 degree afternoon. On the Lincoln steps there appeared to be a military ceremony in progress. As we got closer, we realized a group of Marines were receiving their promotions. It was an amazing location for such an honor and the soldiers were cheered by friends, family and strangers alike.
On the way back to the hotel we passed by the Executive Offices and then the White House. The Executive Offices are the backdrop for the HBO comedy Veep (one of our favorites). We got as close as we could to the White House. Unless you’re on an official White House tour (the hardest ticket to get in DC), that means pressing your nose against an iron gate about 500 feet away. We got a few decent pictures through the gate, but our most memorable view of the White House came that evening at our hotels’s POV rooftop terrace bar. We had a spectacular champagne dinner and watched the lights of an scintillating pinkish orange play off the majestic façade of the Obama residence.
The next day we were up early to explore the west side of the National Mall. First we stopped at the White House Visitor’s center. This was the first visitors center that required a security check and metal detector. It was worth the wait as it offered wonderful insight on the day to day lives of the historical figures who lived there. Then we walked through the corridor of the Smithsonian. There were so many museums to choose from and so little time. We entered a castle like structure that resembled something from the Harry potter films. It ended up being the visitors’s center. After that we went in the Air and Space Museum. We had some fun in the fighter plane and space rocket flight simulators and learned about the evolution of the airline industry. Next we stopped in the American Indian museum. We were told this had the best and healthiest lunch options in the whole Smithsonian – it did not disappoint! They had a plethora of exciting Native American dishes to choose from in one of the world’s more exotic food courts.
After lunch we strolled past the botanical gardens to the Capitol. Our cousin Mary Beth was gracious enough to help us secure a tour. Our guide was charismatic and informative. We learned the secrets of the awe inspiring rotunda and what it takes to get in the National Statuary Hall Collection (Only two per state). There is an underground tunnel that connects the Capitol to the Library of Congress. Currently the largest library in the world, the structure was burned to the ground by the British in 1814. Thomas Jefferson donated his own personal collection to begin the restoration process. We took Pennsylvania Avenue on the way back to the hotel we passed the Newseum (an interactive history of news and journalism) as well as the Old Post Office (recently converted into a Trump hotel).
That night we caught a ride to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Drawing in 2 million visitors a year, the Kennedy center hosts 2,000 shows annually and is the busiest theatre in the country. We scored tickets to Wicked, the acclaimed musical based on the book by Gregory Maguire. Prior to the show we savored a fantastic dinner at the Center’s Roof Terrace restaurant. This innovative restaurant overlooks the Potomac river and serves a medley of delightful dishes. The show was amazing. Jessica Vosk dazzled the crowd as Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west. Understudy Jillian Butler vaulted into role of Good Witch Glynda and was magnificent. The show was absolutely magical and left us wanting more!
On our last day we visited the Washington Harbour. The Harbour was alive with Holiday festivities that afternoon. The plaza had been converted into an ice skating rink overlooking the Potomac and the Kennedy Center. We walked to nearby Georgetown and indulged in the shops on Wisconsin and M streets. The streets were bustling with last minute Christmas shoppers and the ambience was bursting with cheer. Our last meal in DC was at Bangkok Joe’s Thai Restaurnat & Dumpling Bar. The Mushroom ‘N Ginger dumplings brought back fond memories of our adventures in Thailand.
We absolutely loved our stay in DC! We were blessed with nice weather and the W hotel was the perfect home base for our stay (they have top notch steam showers at the spa & a priceless concierge service!) If only we had more time to see it all. No worries, it just means we’ll have to bring Moorea there one day for a family outing!