Like every grade school kid, Nick and I each made the obligatory visit to Washington D.C. visiting major monuments and tourist sites when we were younger. I didn’t have plans to visit again, until so many of you mentioned D.C. in one of my posts asking about “walkable cities with character and a diverse food scene!” Earlier this month, we got to explore different neighborhoods and experience the area a little bit through fresh eyes, and we loved it! I feel like we barely scratched the surface, so will have to go back soon. Some highlights from our visit:
rainy day Museum Hopping
I loved that there were so many -and free- things to do in D.C. on a rainy day! The U.S. Botanic Garden (free admission) was a little respite in the city, good even for those who aren’t typical museum-goers. The rooms are modeled after different ecosystems, and we loved seeing and learning about so many varieties of flowers, cacti, and other plants!
We also enjoyed the National Gallery of Art (free admission) and Newseum, but do plan half a day to explore the exhibits at Newseum to get the most out of your admission fee (which does allow you to come back the next day). The Portrait Gallery also came highly recommended by you guys, but we didn’t make it this time around!
We popped into the American Indian Museum since several people strongly recommended the food there inspired by Native American cuisine and ingredients. Maybe it just wasn’t our day, but the food we got was not great and cost about $60 for two people in a cafeteria setting.
morning walks around the tidal basin
We absolutely loved our family walks around the picturesque Tidal Basin! Peak bloom only lasts about a week and we were lucky to catch it by following this blossom watch forecast. It’s about 2 miles around so definitely wear comfortable shoes.
It was so nice having my mom meet up with us again! I’m grateful for her help on the road, and Nori loves time with her “po po” (grandma)!
casual Seafood @ the Wharf
At the suggestion of our hotel, we stopped by the Wharf which was in walking distance. There’s a large seafood market here where lots of people were buying crab and shrimp by the bushels to cook at home, and then numerous restaurants a little further down that we didn’t get to check out. We grabbed lunch from Captain White’s but it was just ok to be honest, and took a very long time to get our order.
ExplorING historic Georgetown
Georgetown reminded me a lot of Beacon Hill in Boston. We browsed the shops along M St, then turned down O street for the charming, colorful homes and cobblestone roads. There was a small line outside Greenworks Florist to take photos by their door, so I joined right in ; )
We waited in line at Falafel Inc for a delicious, flavorful meal under $10!
We’re familiar with Georgetown Cupcakes from their Boston location, so indulged in the cake cups at Baked and Wired instead. I got their one vegan flavor since I’m still avoiding eggs and dairy due to Nori’s allergies, and it was scrumptious!
Where we Stayed
For visitors, the most popular areas suggested by you guys on Instagram were Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, or Foggy Bottom. A lot of you also recommended the trendy Line Hotel as well but it was a bit far for us. We booked the Mandarin Oriental for the first part of our stay since it’s super close to the cherry blossoms, then moved to an apartment rental near Dupont Circle to explore a different area!
The Mandarin was a splurge due to peak bloom week, but we loved our stay and 10-minute walk each morning to the Tidal Basin. Their club lounge was better than I expected with a full breakfast bar, robust appetizer & snack bar, and complimentary drinks so was worth adding on for busy travelers with little ones. We were able to walk to the National Mall and numerous museums (15 – 20 minutes walk), however the surrounding area by the hotel is mostly offices and government buildings without much to do or eat in the proximity. I was pleased though to find an authentic-feeling “Mini Sushi Bar” sushi counter (run by the owner of Sushi Ogawa) downstairs in the hotel, but note it runs ~$100 per person for omakase.
For the second part of our trip, we rented this apartment (2nd floor, no elevator) – it’s run by a management company with tons of other units on Airbnb that look similarly renovated and decorated in the Dupont Circle area! They were very responsive and our unit was clean, comfortable, and looked recently renovated. If you’re new to Airbnb, here’s a referral link for $40 off your first booking.
Where we ate
I have to thank you guys for the wonderfully detailed and diverse recommendations in the comments of this post! Be sure to take a look through if you’re visiting, as some of these restaurants are very popular / busy and require reservations well in advance or lining up outside, which we didn’t do with a baby in tow.
Got so many polarizing love or hate messages about the chain Founding Farmers, but that’s to be expected when a restaurant has over 12,000 reviews! We made same day dinner reservations and had a 30 minute wait since it was packed. Our food was nearly cold when it arrived, but overall we thought everything was fairly tasty (pot roast and fried chicken were table favorites) and the place was baby-friendly. Nick described it as a Cheesecake Factory ambiance but with better food.
While staying in Dupont Circle, we tried to get into a few places you guys recommended without luck, and ended up at Sushi Taro since there was no wait at the bar! We enjoyed their chirashi bowl and omakase, although the omakase is more like a sushi dinner set (pictured above on the white plate) that comes out all at once. A few of the top restaurants from your suggestions that we didn’t make it to this time include:
– Rose’s luxury (limited same-day reservations)
– Thip Khao for Laotian
– Le Diplomate for French
– Union Market for various food stalls
– Toki Underground & Daikaya for ramen (no reservations, wait was 1-2 hours)
– Little Serow for Thai (no reservations; nightly set menu for all diners)
– Rasika for Indian
– Bad Saint for Filipino (limited reservations)