A year ago I spent a weekend in Washington, D.C. with a great friend of mine for a fun (yet educational) girls’ weekend trip. We flew into D.C. on Friday morning and came back late Sunday afternoon but we were able to pack a lot into such a short time.
Strangely enough, I had never visited our Nation’s capital. Hard to believe as I love history and museums but it just never happened before. So, my friend Janet, who I met on our very first day of law school together so we’ve known each other about 17 years now, decided to do what we referred to as a “nerdy” girl trip. Even though we are nerdy girls, we both have a good sense of humor – below is a picture of a birthday card Janet gave me the other year, and yes, she wrote on it to make clear that I was the crack whore in the scenario below.
We stayed at the J.W. Marriott in downtown D.C. and the hotel was perfect for us. It is in a great location and is walking distance to all the main sights and monuments. Probably a 10 minute walk to the Smithsonian, 15-20 minutes to the Lincoln Memorial, 15 minutes to the White House, etc… It’s probably not as luxurious as the Hay-Adams or The Willard but it’s in the same vicinity, is updated and modern and has convenient amenities (Starbucks inside for example). It struck me as more of a business person’s hotel but given the location, I had no issue with that.
We started our first day by walking to the National Mall, seeing the Washington Monument and then hitting some museums. Our first museum stop was the National Gallery. The collection is huge and we barely scratched the surface of it. It ranges from modern art to Renaissance/medieval art. Oh, and one of the nicest things about D.C. is that all of the museums are free. Not only is that kind to the pocket book but it also means no queuing up to wait and buy tickets – you literally just walk straight in to every museum with no wait and start touring.
After that, we walked over to the Air & Space museum where we saw Lindbergh’s plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo space capsules, the Wright Brothers’ plane and Glamorous Glennis, the plane that broke the sound barrier.
We walked over to the White House as well for a few pictures from the fence but didn’t try to climb it like some other crazy people have recently.
That evening, we had dinner reservations at Rasika. If you are in D.C., go here. It’s high-end Indian food and it goes down as one of my favorite meals ever. I put it right behind Le Bernardin, which sounds insane but it was an incredible meal. Rasika is also President Obama’s favorite restaurant in D.C. and he usually comes here for dinner on his birthday. The restaurant is very popular and you need reservations 4 to 6 weeks in advance which is what we got by planning ahead.
Even with our reservation, we still had to wait a good 20 minutes for our table but it was worth it. Janet is vegetarian and I am not but we were able to each get the tasting menu with an equal number of courses and she had the vegetarian version. Overall, I think we had close to 8 or 9 courses and I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate that much food at a restaurant. The lighting was low so pictures were difficult.
The highlights for me were a first course of yogurt, chutney and fried spinach leaves with golden raisins, a mid-course of a seared and marinated black cod filet and then the finale was a huge variety of curry dishes – some with meat and some vegetarian. It was an embarrassing amount of food. We rolled ourselves out of there after dinner but I would do it all over again. The restaurant itself is beautiful and our service was perfectly paced and attentive.
The next day we were up early and out to see the monuments. We walked down to the mall again and stopped by the World War II Memorial. There were actually a few busloads of World War II vets visiting the memorial that day as well.
Following that we continued down the mall and stopped by the Vietnam War Memorial. My father is a Vietnam veteran and did a tour of duty over there. He was one of the lucky ones that survived and came home. The Memorial was designed by a Vietnamese woman, Maya Lin, and is a simple wall of stark black granite with the names of all soldiers that died carved into it. It’s been somewhat controversial but I admired the simplicity of it.
We then made our way to the end of the Mall to see the Lincoln Memorial and climbed up the steps. From the top of the steps, you get a great view looking back over the Reflecting Pool.
We had a casual lunch at a Mexican food restaurant (with margaritas) and then walked over to the Newseum, which was interesting but a little underwhelming, in my opinion. It’s a museum all about journalism, both print and TV, and while there are some interesting exhibits, I was frankly a little bored by it. They also had a short film in the new Annenberg Theater about the first female journalist and let’s just say that it couldn’t have been any cheesier or dumbed down. I think the musical production of Newsies is probably less corny and more informative.
We ended the day by heading to the Smithsonian American History museum to see Julia Child’s kitchen and the Star Spangled Banner. By the time we got there, it was closing in about 30 minutes so we were super rushed but we we really enjoyed the exhibit of the First Ladies’ inaugural gowns. They had gowns going back to Mary Todd Lincoln up to the one Michelle Obama wore just 4 years ago. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but it was a fun fashion exhibit for us girls.
The next day we had brunch at a small restaurant that specialized in vegan food and then we were back to the airport to head home. It was a short weekend but we had a great time seeing the sights and having girl talk all weekend.