3 days in Washington DC

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3 days in Washington DC

Weeks after returning from my January trip to NYC, I bought a plane ticket to Washington DC for Cesar Chavez/Easter weekend.  I don’t have a particular reason why I chose DC out of all of the domestic destinations available—my mom jokes it’s because I felt deprived by not being able to go on an 8th grade class field trip across the country, but I don’t *think* that’s something I’ve internalized.

I started following Washington DC instagrams, filled my Pinterest with #aesthetic locations, and spent time familiarizing myself with the general layout of the city on Google Maps.  I used the Google Trips app to help research and save destinations.  I boarded a midnight flight out of SFO ready with all of the information and materials I needed, packed into a compact 28L backpack I normally use for work.

DAY ONE: The National Mall, Capital Hill, US Capitol

The first day was tough.  I arrived at Reagan International Airport around 8AM EST on approximately one hour of sleep between two connecting flights.  I walked out of the airport, got on the metro, and arrived in downtown DC within 30 minutes.

I spent a substantial amount of time just wandering around the national mall.  I took a lot of pictures for other fellow tourists and did some quality people watching from various park benches.

I wandered around some paths north of the Washington Monument and took some pictures before being approached by a bicycle cop who seemed confused and alarmed that I was in this space.  He escorted me back out to the street just minutes before several large green helicopters landed near where I had been walking.  Apparently I was just been walking behind the White House, and the area I’d been walking was supposed to have been gated off for the president’s arrival.

Around noon, I took a Lyft and went to go check into my airbnb early.  I had coordinated with my Airbnb host and had paid a $10 fee to drop my bag off through the app, but he then requested to be paid through Venmo claiming that he hadn’t received the money through Airbnb even though my card had already been charged.  Not wanting to risk losing my accommodations and/or getting a bad Airbnb review, I complied and ended up paying twice.  Seemed a bit shady especially given Airbnb’s strict policies against paying on third party apps (and his public transaction history heavily suggesting that I wasn’t the first one he’d tried to get more money out of), but at the end of the day, $10 is a coffee and a pastry.

I digress.

The Airbnb I stayed in is located in Bloomingdale, a historically black neighborhood located in the NW quarter near Howard University.  It’s not close to many of the super touristy sites, but there are a ton of really great restaurants, cafes, and bars within walking distance.  My host gave me a bunch of great tips for local places to visit, and then I was back out on my way.

About a month prior to leaving for DC, I contacted my Congressman for a tour of the US Capitol and the White House.  My White House request was denied, but my US Capitol tour was successful!  I walked a little over 2 miles down North Capitol Street to the US Capitol Building and went on a tour guided by an intern from the Bay Area.  The building itself was pretty cool, but I feel like the overall experience was a bit lackluster—especially since the house and senate galleries were closed by the time we’d gotten through the whole tour.

I fell in love with the houses around the Capital Hill neighborhood—so many cute doors and neat colors!

I took a Lyft back to the Airbnb around 5 and laid down to take a nap that I didn’t wake up from until 11.  Oops.  I debated going out and trying to find food, but I figured it’d be a safer bet if I went back to sleep and got an early start on the next day.

DAY TWO: Cardozo, Museums, Memorials

I got breakfast at a small, super hipster-y cafe around the block from the Airbnb called Big Bear Cafe.  I got a lox everything bagel with pickled onions and a cappuccino.  I sat in their outdoor seating area and eavesdropped on a group of middle-aged moms debating the optimal mimosa-to-food brunch ratio.

I walked over to Meridian Hill Park and continued to admire all of the unique architecture.

Then I got one of the most delicious green juices from Love n Faith before heading down to Dupont Circle.

From Dupont Circle, I took the metro to the Smithsonian station.

And then I walked around the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  It was pretty cool, but the stroller to human ratio was a little bit ridiculous.

Then I walked over to the U.S. Botanic Garden which may have been one of the biggest highlights of the whole trip—everything was in bloom, and there weren’t that many people.

I got really hungry afterwards and went to a British pub named Alibi.  I ordered a beer and the waiter had to check my ID with two other employees to ensure that i am actually of age—unsure if I just looked particularly young or particularly suspicious.  The food and the beer were both really tasty, I ordered their fish and chips which were very fresh and pleasantly spiced.  I decided to head over to the Air and Space Museum afterwards to walk off all the fried food.

After the Air and Space Museum closed, I headed back over to the Washington and Lincoln Memorials and got some neat night pictures of them before heading back to my Airbnb for the night.

DAY THREE: Georgetown, Tidal Basin,

I walked a lot my third day—just over 15 miles.  I got breakfast at a cute little brunch place in Cardozo before walking all the way across the city to Georgetown.

Then I walked down the Potomac and got to experience the cherry blossom festival before heading into the Smithsonian museum of American History.

I stayed in the museum of American History until it closed at 5:30.  I walked over to CityCenterDC, took some pictures, and waited in line for the insta-famous Momofuku Milk Bar soft serve ice cream.  I waited for about 20 minutes and was just about to order before an employee  behind the counter asked if I wanted a free ice cream since someone had neglected to pick up their order and they didn’t want it to go to waste.  Of course I said yes—who wouldn’t want a free (normally ~$7) cup of bougie ice cream?  And best of all, it was exactly what I wanted to order anyways!

Then I walked a few blocks up and had some of the most delicious Ethiopian food at Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant.  I got their vegetarian sampler (which could have easily fed 2 people) and an Ethiopian beer for less than $25 including tip.  About an hour later, I decided to walk back into downtown to get some more night pictures before heading back to the Airbnb.

a twenty-something photographer & solo traveler based in the San Francisco Bay Area

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