I love my husband, but going away for just a day to the nation’s capitol during the final week of the National Cherry Blossom Festival just seems hectic. Traffic to get there, finding parking spots, getting the house together, packing for me and the kids, making arrangements for the cats and dog…it just sounds like a crazy, chaotic mess. But screw it, let’s do it!! I am always saying (complaining) that we never do anything spontaneous now that we have kids. So let’s head north for 24 hours and make it some memorable family moments. Watch our Vlog here, or if you are planning a getaway to Washington, D.C. with your family, read the details of our visit below.
We stayed at The Architect (1025 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.) because it was the best deal on booking.com and fairly close to the White House. The hotel had lots of rustic charm and was easily the smallest hotel room we ever stayed in. They advertised a queen bed, but after squeezing all four of us in it, the bed seemed more like a full. Our room was strictly for shower and sleep, considering we were only spending one night. Even after the false fire alarm, I would still recommend this quaint place. Keep in mind, it did not have a parking garage. We were lucky to find a spot on the street and only pay $30 in meter fees compared to $55 for overnight parking in the near-by garage.
Leaving after dance class Saturday morning put us in D.C. around 3 pm. We immediately strapped on our running shoes and loaded the kids in the double wide jogging stroller to see the monuments in the National Mall. One of my favorite rules of travel is to exercise within 24 hours of arriving at the destination, plus it seemed like it would be the fastest way to see everything.
First stop was the White House. However, with heightened security, we did not get as close as I had before. We jogged right to the Washington Monument for some cute pictures, but that was about all the jogging we could do. I failed to realize that pushing a double wide jogging stroller through a thick crowd of tourists was literally impossible, let alone running with it! We got some weird looks for sprinting on the grass just to stop a few feet away behind the next slow crowd. Word of advice: do not bring a double wide stroller to Washington, D.C.
Then it was on the to the National World War II Memorial. We rested our feet in the water for a bit before jogging along the Reflecting Pool, which this time of year looks like a pollen-filled duck pond. Cambri’s favorite part of the trip was the Lincoln Memorial. She says it is because he is the tallest president, but I just think she liked taking these darling, daring pictures.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is my favorite. It literally gives me chills to walk by the soldier statues, and I think that is how it should be when paying your respects to those who gave all. The memorial is absolutely breath taking. We got a little more running in to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Another beyond beautiful piece of work that really represents the magnitude of this man’s work in America. Beware the monk looking guys passing out bracelets for peace and love. They are not actually giving you the bracelet, they want you to pay $40 for that “peace and love.” A little ways down we caught a fabulous tour guide at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. I am not sure if sitting on the statue’s lap is considered disrespectful, but I thought it was cute.
Across the bridge (again, double stroller not our best idea) we came to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. It took me aback to walk into this gazebo looking structure to find a huge statue with beautiful inscriptions. With all the people around, it is hard to really let it sink in just how special these places are, the attention to details in the memorials themselves, and the legacy these people leave for us as Americans. At this point I almost get us lost (which is not a good thing to do when you have already walked 6 miles and the hotel is still 2 miles away). Matt got us on the right track back to our tiny hotel room for a peanut butter and jelly dinner. We also packaged salad and green goddess pasta.
Entertaining the kids in a room that small is next to impossible. After they got cleaned up, we hopped back in the stroller to visit the Milk Bar for some ice cream. This cute little place had me drooling as soon as I walked in with their display of cookies, and my all time favorite sweet treat: cake. The kids got some plain ice cream with sprinkles and I ordered the B’day Cake MilkQuake. For some reason, Porter did not like the texture of the sprinkles. I offered to buy him a different treat, mostly so I could order a slice of that heavenly looking cake. Porter decided he wanted some too, and agreed to share the $9 slice of heaven with me. I definitely had a headache from too much sugar, but hey, when in D.C. 🤷🏼♀️
Back to our hotel for the night and the fire alarm goes off and then suddenly stops. Cambri started crying because she was scared (it was SUPER loud and lights were flashing). Porter slept through the whole thing. I told Matt the alarm would still be going off if it was an emergency, and noticed no one else was leaving their rooms. We went through all kinds of scenarios in our heads and decided we should all go check the front desk to make sure everything was okay. It was. The other guest in the lobby said that happened twice the night before. Now we could finally all go to sleep in our full size bed for the night.
First, no continental breakfast at the hotel so we ate some snacks and stopped by Starbucks for our coffee fix. Having seen all the monuments we wanted to, we decided to check out some museums. The Smithsonian Museums are all free, and you are allowed to bring food and drinks as long as they are only consumed in the cafeteria areas. Walking to the National Mall, we passed by the White House and got a closer look than we did the day before.
Our first stop was the Museum of Natural History. It is full of beautiful animals, skeletons, mummy’s, gems, ocean animals and dinosaurs. You could literally spend all day in here and learn so much, but with the crowd we felt rushed and were always looking after our kids. The stroller was great for getting in; Because we got to use the handicap entrance, we skipped part of the line. However, wheeling that thing through a crowded museum while chasing your toddlers was less than ideal. We ate our snacks in the cafe, and I am so glad we brought them. One chicken wrap alone was $12.50!
The kids were restless, so we decided to do some walking before the next stop. The sidewalks on this side of the National Mall were more spacious. There were tons of food trucks and open lawn space for picnics. First we checked out the fountain in the National Sculpture Garden. We walked to the end to see the Capitol Building.
Our final stop of the day was Air and Space Museum. It was so cool to see all the planes and rockets. We bee-lined to the bathrooms (potty training Porter, still). Meanwhile,Cambri got a bloody nose out of nowhere (thanks, allergies). This is life with toddlers. We found the kid section of the museum (it even had a stroller parking area) where they had a live demonstration going on. It was really well done, except Cambri was mad when she was overlooked for the volunteer position. We spent some time exploring the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart before the kids started their uncontrollable laughter, which means nap time soon. We walked the 2ish miles back to where we parked and Porter passed out. We stopped in for some caffeine at Zeke’s Coffee. I was a little peeved that my Cherry Blossom Cold Brew tasted just like regular cold brew, but man it gave me just the buzz of energy I needed for the drive home!
We loaded up and left DC at 3:05pm. Just so you know, we hit more traffic on the way home to Virginia Beach than we did on the way there, but hey, I cranked up the 90s country and we made it through okay.
It was a short trip, but one check off of our bucket list. I had been to DC only once before and was excited for my husband and kids to experience the bustling city. After this trip, I feel completely satisfied and never again want to venture back. Between horn-obsessed traffic, trash lining the sidewalks, the smell of weed on every other corner, and all the crowds of people with disregard to personal space, this country bumpkin is content with going home.