Last summer my parents moved from Kyoto, Japan to Washington D.C. Having them back in the USA has been excellent. Not only do we now get to visit with them more than once a year, but we’re also able to explore a new place: Washington D.C.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do when in D.C.:
Old Ebbitt’s Grill – $$$
Keith and I both love oysters, so Old Ebbitt is our idea of the perfect date night. Last time we were in town, we each ordered a dozen oysters (they’re half-priced 7-days a week from 3-6 PM and 11-1 AM) and a glass of wine. It was heavenly. Afterward, we walked past the Capitol (it is steps from Old Ebbitt) before we headed to St. Regis for a nightcap.
Smithsonian Institution – free
We haven’t yet been to all of the museums (there are 17 collections in Washington D.C. alone), but they’re all on my list! And since they are free to the public, I don’t doubt we’ll make it to most of them soon. Here are the three we’ve been to so far:
- National Museum of Natural History
I remember going here as a kid and absolutely loving it. Not much changed when I visited again as an adult. It’s a busy spot, but worthwhile. Be sure to check out The Hope Diamond.
- National Museum of American History
This was my favorite! I absolutely loved the replica of Julia Child’s kitchen and seeing The First Ladies exhibit (Lady Bird’s dress collection was stunning).
- National Gallery of Art
My parents and I were fortunate enough to visit when there was a beautiful Italian art exhibit being held. We thoroughly enjoyed walking through each of the rooms and seeing the gorgeous renaissance work.
Arlington National Cemetery – free
I felt at peace walking through Arlington National Cemetery. It’s beautifully kept and full of history. I could spend hours there. As the daughter of a Marine, I feel a connection to those buried on the grounds. It’s an impressive way to honor the 400,000 service members, veterans and dependents who served our country.
National Mall – free
My Dad took Keith and me on a 6-hour bike ride the first time Keith visited D.C. It was the perfect way to see the city and the monuments. Plus, Dad knows enough about each of the memorials that we felt like we were on our own personal tour.
Unfortunately for you, my Dad isn’t available for hire as your tour guide. But you could rent bikes and buy a map to do the same. Below are a few of the spots we hit on our ride:
- United States Capitol
I had a tour of the Capitol set-up for Keith and me but decided at the last minute that I didn’t want to go during this administration. If you’re interested in going when you’re in D.C. next, you need to book ahead of time through your state’s representative.
- The White House
Last time we visited, we walked past it after dinner at Old Ebbitt’s. It was late at night, so there weren’t many people there (only a few die-hard protestors). It was breathtaking.
- Washington Monument
Built to commemorate George Washington. You can’t miss it! It’s directly across from the Lincoln Memorial (across from the Reflecting Pool).
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The tomb stands parallel with the White House.
- Lincoln Memorial and Lincoln Reflecting Pool
This is my favorite memorial. I am moved each time I read the Gettysburg Address etched onto its sides. It’s a powerful reminder of our country’s history and evolution.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
There are 58,000 names etched into the memorial – representing those who gave their lives during the Vietnam War in service to our country.
- National World War II Memorial
A beautiful memorial for those – military and civilians – who lost their lives during World War II. I especially love that the monument is so busy during the summer season. I love seeing the children playing in the pool and the adults eating on the steps. It seems like a great way to both commemorate and celebrate those we lost.
- Korean War Memorial
The 19 stainless steel statues always impress me with the level of detail they hold. Each of the men in the unit wears a poncho which covers their 1950-style uniforms and gear.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
A less populated, more secluded memorial. But still, not to be missed.
The Pentagon – free
The Pentagon is the Headquarters of the Department of Defense, and unbeknownst to many, a ‘city’ which hosts over 26,000 employees and a military history museum. It’s also the memorial site of one of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks which killed 184 people.
Olde Town Alexandria – free
My Mom and I absolutely love Olde Town! It’s one of our favorite places to shop and eat. We especially love Paper Source and The Christmas Attic. After dining at Virtue Feed & Grain, grab an ice cream at The Creamery and walk through the cobblestone streets lined with gas-powered lights.
Georgetown – free
Visiting Georgetown made me regret not applying to the local university for my undergrad. This cute, college town is so lively and fun. It’s historic, colorful, and charming. We haven’t spent a ton of time there, but we did love grabbing breakfast burritos at Jaco Juice and Taco Bar.
Drinks at the St. Regis with Sam – $$$
One of Keith’s friends recommended we stop by the St. Regis for drinks with the bartender, Sam. I’m so glad we went. Sam is a delightful, generous man who is quite the bartender and magician (he performed two magic tricks for us while we were drinking)! Sam made Keith his new signature whiskey drink and sweetly presented me with a pretty scarf. We are now lucky to be on his Christmas card list!
National Cathedral – free
Keith and I were fortunate to be able to attend the United States Marine Corps 243rd Birthday service with my parents last November. This event also allowed us to enjoy the beautiful Cathedral where Matthew Shepard was recently laid to rest.
One of the best parts of being a military child is being able to see and experience the world. Washington D.C. is another spot I’ve been thankful to fall in love with thanks to my military roots. I already can’t wait till our next trip out to our nation’s capital.