Thursday, May 8, 2014

2013-2014 D.C. Activities and Food

Here are some of the places I have visited in D.C.. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Air and Space Museum - This is one of the most popular museums but I wasn't crazy about it. The Air and Space Museum has several examples of different airplanes, there is a space shuttle you can sit in, and there are several exhibits on flying and space. Because this is one of the most popular museums there are often lines to get into the museum and it can be crowded inside.

Air and Space Museum - Udvar-Hazy Center - Located in Chantilly, VA (near Dulles Airport). This has the space shuttle, blackbird, concord, Enola Gay, and lots of other airplanes and engines. There is a $15 fee for parking but the entrance is free.

American History Museum - Lots of random exhibits here, but something for everyone! Food history, military, American history, trains, or art, this museum has it all. The First Lady dress exhibit is here too. Depending on how interested you are in the exhibits you could take 20 minutes to a full day here.

Museum of Natural History - So much fun! This is home of the Hope Diamond, Dinosaur Fossils, Geology exhibits and more. Lots of things to touch for the kids and interesting things to read for the more grown up. Depending on the patience/interest of kids and grown ups this could take about 1 hour to a full day.Take the metro in and you'll be right near the National Mall for some outdoor walking and the monuments.

National Zoo - Free, open year round. Maps, strollers, and food are available onsite for a fee. There are picnic tables if you bring your own food. Very limited parking, for example late April on a Saturday the parking lots were full by 10:30am. Street parking in the neighborhoods is available and it is a short walk from a metro stop. Can easily spend a whole day there. If you go in the winter many of the animals will be inside so you won't be able to see much. There are a few inside exhibits like the Pandas, Reptiles, and Elephants so you can see a few animals in bad/cold weather.

Portrait Gallery - This museum is a toss up. If you like art you could be here for several hours checking out all the pictures and info cards. If you are only looking for a specific exhibit you could be in and out in less then 30 minutes.

National Mall - Bring a history buff and you'll have a lot better understanding of why these monuments were built and why they are so important. If you can't bring anyone, get a really good guide book and this will really change your view. The National Mall has lots of places to sit and enjoy the views of the Tidal Basin, Reflecting Pool, and different water fountains as well.

Cherry Blossom Festival -  Everyone goes. Be prepared for lots of crowds, think Times Square crowds and tourist groups. Everyone is taking lots of pictures, no one is walking at the same pace, and traffic is all sorts of hectic. Plan for and expect those conditions and you'll be fine. If you want a leisurely view of the blossoms you may want to try during the week when everyone is at work or a weekend ahead of the peak blossoms. I've never done it but there are lots of boat cruises along the Potomac during this time and you can rent a paddle boat in the Tidal Basin.

Botanic Gardens - Indoor exhibit, it is open year round. The gardens are broken out into different rooms based on climate but there are also a couple areas for endangered plants and a specific orchid exhibit. There are some gardens outside but this is seasonal. Expect to spend 30-90 minutes here.

International Spy Museum - There is an entrance fee. While a lot of the museum is focused on the James Bond exhibit there is quite a bit of history regarding spy tools and the history of spying in the US. Interactive museum where you first select a spy and have to remember their information during the exhibits and there are many gadgets to test out and explore so it isn't just reading.

Marine Silent Drill Team and Marine Drum and Bugle Corp Practice at the Iwo Jima Memorial - Tuesday evenings during the spring/summer months. This Marine tradition,the Silent Drill team does not have any verbal commands during the entirely synchronized routine. The Drum and Bugle Corp is one of the elite military bands. I've never seen anything like this before and it was a great free experience that if you are in the area you shouldn't miss!

Baked and Wired - Great bakery and coffee shop located in Georgetown. Check this place out!

Brasserie Beck - Fancy place with lots of seafood options. It was very tasty but since it was mainly seafood dishes I don't think I'd go back.

Chop't Salad - Salad chain that prepares salads to order. Great healthy lunch option that isn't too pricey when you are out and about in the city!

Daily Grill - A slightly upscale restaurant. We went for Mother's Day and the food was great! I had the pasta primavera which was a very small portion and not what I was expecting...but everyone else's food was big portions and tasted great! Between the 8 of us we had fish, crab, rice, pasta, veggies, and more. Try their fresh strawberry lemonade it was fantastic!

Founding Farmers - Wonderful food with a seasonal menu. Almost everything is made in house or sourced from certain farms. Highly recommend the green goddess and bread platter or some of their fresh made pasta. Make reservations in advance.

Matchbox - Specialty pizza restaurant that serves other incredible salads, sandwiches, and has a huge drink menu. Make reservations because there is almost always a wait outside during main dining hours.

Poets and Busboys - A fun forward thinking quirky restaurant/book store. They have a selection of book sto browse from in the front while waiting for your table. They offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. Another unique aspect is they have events in the evenings for local talent. They don't take reservations.

Sweetgreen - Home of my favorite tangy frozen yogurt! They make delish salads to order using local ingredients. There is even a blackboard that says where all the ingredients came from. Check this place out!

Tonic - Great bar food and sandwich shop with a class spin. Many beer tap options and drink options.

Z Pizza - Chain restaurant with specialty pizza shop for not super expensive. They offer salads, gluten free/vegan/vegetarian options as well.

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