Walk Through History and Innovation
Dedicated to my sweet family and my two best friends (Rasmey and Simar)
SET THE SCENE
If you stand anywhere along National Mall and close your eyes, you feel an important buzz around you. There is something within the air of Washington D.C. that smells of importance. This is the place we always see on TV whenever anything historic occurs. Protests, presidential elections, speeches, and major laws being signed into place and marking the course of history. People walk by in suits with name badges swinging from their necks and a purposeful strut to their steps. Then there are tour guides strolling past with a line of excited travelers behind. It is crazy to think that no matter where you stand in this city, you are amidst hundreds of years of history. There are corners in which you stand in awe of how far this country has come, and there are areas where you sit in silence and ponder over how simple humans can cause such mass destruction and devastation. But beyond the history, the city is filled with science and art wonders and you can spend literally hours immersed in culture. This is a city where you can find yourself walking to a restaurant and then suddenly in the middle of a rally. It’s a place where you can feel change happening.
Time of Travel: May
Type of Travel: Family Travel
This is part one of my America Northeast Road Trip adventure series!
- Metro Line
- The metro is another reliable way to get around D.C. but unlike other metro lines (like in NYC), it doesn’t expansively cover the entire city and you have to walk a bit to get to each metro station.
- How to Use:
- Buy a SmarTrip card at any metro station or online. The cost is $10 – $2 for the ticket and then $8 for stored fare. You can then load this card later at the station. You scan in and scan out of the stations. How much each trip is depends on how far
- Arrival: We arrived in Washington D.C. by car around noon time. (We were driving from Atlantic City, NJ and that is another story for my last blog of this series). At the time, we checked into our hotel, dropped off our car in the garage, and then headed out to explore the city!
- Lunch: Da Hong Pao. This is a Chinese restaurant that serves dim sum lunch which is exactly what we were looking for! Outside the day was gloomy and the clouds were rolling in, and grey weather always means dim sum for my family. This place certainly hit the spot! Mmm BBQ baked buns.
- National Mall: The entire afternoon of Day One was dedicated to exploring all the history the buildings and monuments of National Mall had to offer! The National Mall is basically a giant lawn stretched vertically with a sidewalk around it and important buildings/museums dotting the grass. There’s food trucks and runners and bikers out enjoying their days! It’s a lively area and the highlight of D.C. that any tourist must see! There are signs everywhere so you won’t get lost depending on what you want to explore. Here was our route:
- We started at the US Capitol Building. Behind the Capitol Building is the Supreme Court of the US and Library of Congress.
- To actually go inside the Library of Congress, you need to make a library card. Ask anyone to direct you where in the building you can go register for one because the route is underground and can be confusing. You can’t take any photos inside the library and the people within are actually studying/working so I recommend just viewing it from the window if you’re going to peruse the shelves.
- If you just want to view the inside of the library, you can see it from a view point with a glass window in the middle of the Library of Congress building.
- The reflection pool in front of the Capitol Building and then the one in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the end of the National Mall are mesmerizing. There’s something very tranquil about the waters that makes you want to stay quiet as you walk around them.
- From the US Capitol Building, if you face the Washington Monument, walk on the right side and you will be able to turn onto a side street that takes you to the White House.
- Remember, for obvious reasons, the White House is heavily guarded so you can only view it from afar. It’s actually practically a speck but still something to see if you’ve never seen it before
- Walk back to Washington Monument
- You can go to the top and inside: reserving your ticket three months ahead or waiting in the morning on the day off at the office in front of the monument where they hand out tickets, first come first serve.
- Currently closed until Spring 2019
- Price: Free unless pre-ordered!
- From here, there are several memorials on either side of the mall to visit:
- World War II Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- No matter how many tourists there are in this area, for some reason, I think these memorials just beckons an understanding of silence from everyone. It was a very haunting, yet humbling feeling to walk amongst those smooth marble and granite and see the names of the fallen and the states/territories who fought together in the World War. May the world never see such destruction like that again.
- After these memorials, you will get to the end which is the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. It is quite a surreal experience to walk up the many steps to the great Lincoln Memorial. It was slightly ruined by the millions of tourists buzzing around the area and how loud it was. I kind of wish I got to see it by myself at night. If you’re there, take the time to move to the sides and read The Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address.
- Arlington National Cemetery: Unfortunately, my family and I were not able to make it to this area just because by the time we were done with the National Mall, night time had fallen. I would say this is doable in a day you start the National Mall in the morning or if you speed through the different memorials.
- Not connected to the National Mall. You would have to drive over or it would be a long walk.
- Final resting place of more than 400,00 fallen heroes from WWI, II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
- Around here you can also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and JFK Grave Site
- Dinner: Hot n Juicy. By the time we were done, our feet were tired and we were more than ready to feast on a big meal! This was the perfect place to fill our hungry stomachs! My roommate gushes about this place and I was able to come here during my last D.C. trip when I visited one of my best friends, and I absolutely fell in love!
- This is hands down my favorite Cajun crawfish place I’ve ever tried! The flavors here are absolutely amazing! Of course, you gotta get the Hot n Juicy sauce!
- If you want a lil something before the meal gets there, I say order their Bloody Mary! Delicious and comes with a lil crawfish on top!
- Dessert: The Milk Bar. You have probably seen pictures of this place all over Instagram and for good reason too! Besides making such pretty desserts, they also live up to the hype, in my opinion! If you want a sugar coma, you’ll get one right here!
- I ordered the Cereal Milk Soft Serve (one of their most popular items here) and it was super satisfying! You can definitely taste how fresh the soft serve is and the milky flavors of it, and the nice crunch of the cereal provides such a great contrast of flavors to the sweet!
- Next time I’m near one, I’m definitely trying the crack pie and whatever else is on their menu! I’m eying that Birthday Cake Latte
Little Thing: When someone brings you a really cool souvenir. Story behind this: when my cousin visited NYC some time ago, she went by The Milk Bar and knowing how much I love to bake, she bought me the Cornflake, Chocolate Chip, Marshmallow Cookie Mix and it was SO DELECTABLE and so FUN to make! Really recommend getting one of these mixes for your baker friends – they’re great gifts!
- We dedicated our second and last day in D.C. to exploring the Smithsonian Museums. This is something you can definitely spend a whole day doing if you’re a museum lover. There are so many Smithsonian Museums and the best part? Most of them are free! When are you ever going to get the chance to explore that many museums for free?
- Lunch: Pret. I have a very special attachment to this place. My friends and I first discovered this shop when we were traveling in London and looking for a quick bite. That was probably about seven years ago, and we adored the already made sandwiches. So to find this place again in D.C. made me incredibly excited. Even all these years later, the sandwiches were just as good. They’re simple and fast and what you need on a busy travel day!
- List of Smithsonian Museums
- African American Museum
- African Art Museum
- Air and Space Museum
- American Art Museum
- American History Museum
- American Indian Museum
- Anacostia Community Museum
- Archives of American Art
- Arts and Industries Building
- Cooper Hewitt
- Freer Gallery of Art
- National Zoo
- National History Museum
- Portrait Gallery
- Postal Museum
- Renwick Gallery
- Dillon Ripley Center
- Sackler Gallery
- Smithsonian Castle
- Smithsonian Gardens
- So really, the type of museum you end up going to just depends on what your interest is. I knew where my family’s interest would be (my dad is a big science geek) and so we ended up spending a good amount of time in two museums:
- Natural History Museum
- Air and Space Museum
- TIP: Each museum is so vast and if you really spend a good amount of time at each museum, then you realistically can explore about 2-3 museums starting from noon time to about when they close (5:30PM/1730). I suggest focusing on a few museums rather than running from one to the next.
- Dinner: The Purple Patch. This place is one of my best friend’s favorite restaurants and it definitely lived up to the high expectations she set for me! This is a cute Filipino place open in the evenings with Christmas light décor strung up along the shelves.
- We ordered the Lumpia, Sliders, and Sizzling Sisig. For those of you who are not familiar with Filipino food, lumpia are basically egg rolls but wrapped in a thinner wrapper. The Sizzling Sisig made the dinner; composed deliciously of pork belly and shoulder sautéed with onion, vinegar, lemon juice, birds eye chili served with a fried egg and rice. And yall know me – anything with a fried egg calls my name! And if it comes out with the sizzle sizzle sound – well that just completes the aesthetic of the meal.
- Also, I am a big sweets person BUT I never usually order desserts at restaurants after my meals. So for me to recommend dessert at a restaurant probably means it’s REALLY GOOD.
- Ube Bread Pudding with Ube Ice Cream and Halo Halo. Ube is a recent trend spreading across America. It’s basically purple yam and very delicious. But omg people, this is the best bread pudding I have ever had in my life and with the combination of Ube ice cream, it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in my life. Now that I’m done gushing about that one, I’ll talk about Halo Halo.
- Halo Halo is a very popular Filipino dessert. It’s this conglomeration of coconut gel, red mung beans, jackfruit, white beans, sugar palm, sweetened condensed milk, and shaved ice and this restaurant combines it with leche flan and ube ice cream.
Other Things to Do:
- Library of Congress
- The Kennedy Center
- Eastern Market
- Rock Creek Park
- Key Bridge Boathouse
Other Places to Eat:
- Ice Cream Jubilee
- This cute shop represents all the things ice cream lovers want. Creativity, flavor, and happiness. I absolutely adore ice cream shops that go above beyond the usual flavors, elevating the level of this simple dessert. This place does just that with interesting flavors like kiwi lemongrass chai, citrus Sichuan peppercorn, and strawberry tres leches. And if you want the usual flavors, they have them too!
- Letena Ethiopian Restaurant
- Fun fact is that if you want Ethiopian food, this city is a good place to find a restaurant or have a first time experience just because there are a great amount of Ethiopian restaurants!
- What to order: I always recommend ordering a meat sampler with veggie options to get the full sampling of what Ethiopian cuisine has to offer! Especially for the first timers.
- Old Ebbitt Grill
- This place is a pretty famous restaurant. Just because it has been visited often throughout history by U.S. presidents. It was opened in 1856 and became Washington’s first known saloon. The interior of this place is absolutely beautiful and you can be sure to run into a huge crowd if you’re looking for weekend brunch.
- Personally, I think the brunch food is okay, but if you do go to check out the atmosphere, I recommend the Oyster Eggs Benedict.
Now this is just Part One of the series of blogs of my Northeast Road Trip Journey series. Stay tune until the next part which will take readers through Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and New York City!
What were your favorite things to do in D.C.?