While scrolling through Jetblue’s website a few months ago, I mentioned to Halston how affordable flights to Washington, D.C. were at the time. Then one thing led to another, and we found ourselves headed there for the first time during the Cherry Blossom Festival, which we’ve always wanted to see in person!
If you’re not a traveler who enjoys museums, feel free to stop reading once you’ve neared the end of my cherry blossom pictures (…did you even attend the Cherry Blossom Festival if you don’t have 500 pictures of flowers on your phone?). Now let’s cut the pleasantries and jump right to it because this blog post is LONG.
Where We Laid Our Heads To Rest:
We stayed at The Wink Hotel, a modern property located about a mile from the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. We originally planned to stay in an Airbnb, however, the property I was looking at was snatched up before I even had the opportunity to bring it up to Halston, so we ended up relying on our credit card points in booking this hotel. Thanks, Chase Bank! #NotAnAd
Because our main objective was to spend as little time as possible indoors, we did not explore the hotel, but I can attest that the rooms were very comfortable and clean!
Upon landing in D.C., we each bought a $20 Metro card at the airport which lasted us the four days we were traveling around the city. We also relied on renting electric scooters from Lyft, Skip, and Lime. The scooters ranged between 15 and 18 miles per hour, and cost around 15 to 25 cents a minute. I enjoyed the Lyft and Skip scooters the best because they were lightweight – the Lime scooters were a bit bigger, and I ended up obliterating my ankle with one because I couldn’t maneuver it as easy.
To use the scooters, we downloaded the apps for Lyft, Skip, and Lime. While the apps varied, they were all very similar in the fact that you’d scan a map for nearby scooters, either reserve (Lyft) or walk to the scooter to activate a ride, and once you’re done riding you can end the ride on the app and park the scooter on a public sidewalk for someone else to use!
- Founding Farmers – Their brie, apple and onion jam toast is TO DIE FOR.
- El Centro DF
- Lemon Cuisine of India
As luck would have it, we visited Washington, D.C. during the week the Cherry Blossom Festival reached peak bloom – we couldn’t have timed it more beautifully. And a word to the wise – if you’re planning on visiting next year, make sure to plan your trip on a weekday, as the festival takes place on Saturdays and Sundays and it is impossible to walk around. We walked around the Tidal Basin on Friday when we arrived and it was a ghost town. Saturday, on the other hand, was a nightmare – reminding me of the Magic Kingdom in the summertime. Plus, it was infuriating to see so many Instagram #influencers hogging/attacking the trees.
Washington, D.C. is in a league of its own when it comes to museums, and we didn’t even scratch the surface while we were there. As a note for those planning a trip, all of the places we visited were free.
On top of my list was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, as I’ve been drawn to historical fiction and non-fiction novels about that period in time. Because of the number of visitors they receive on a daily basis, we were placed in an afternoon time slot. When it was our time to go inside, we traded our tickets in for identification booklets of actual people who lived through the Holocaust – the woman I chose was sadly murdered by Lithuanian guards, but the man Halston chose survived.
The museum, while interesting and a touching tribute to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust, was incredibly crowded, making it difficult to move freely or to read the museum labels on items. Trust me when I say that if the museum offered a paid tour, I would’ve signed up for it in a heartbeat. I couldn’t help but compare this museum to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, because the latter’s experience does not allow photography in certain sections so there is a steady flow of people rather than a traffic jam, and counts on more visual and audio, rather than reading. And listen, I love reading, but it is very hard to read when there are people leaning on the walls containing the information you’re trying to read! Plan for an early morning visit, and by reserving your tickets online, for a less crowded experience.
On top of Halston’s list, was the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. We reserved tickets ahead of time for this 40-minute tour and learned all about U.S. paper currency. We even saw a tour of the production process below us and stacks of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime) that were getting ready to be shipped out. Cellphones and cameras are not allowed on the tour, so you’ll just imagine we were swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s vault.
After seeing way too many teenagers wearing MAGA bucket hats (as if MAGA caps weren’t ugly enough already), I found myself longing for simpler times, and we headed to the National Portrait Gallery, where it took all in me to not longingly (creepily) touch Barack and Michelle’s breathtaking portraits. We listened to the free audio tour on our phones and learned that the flowers floating behind Barack have different meanings, such as the chrysanthemum, the official flower of Chicago; the jasmine, the symbolic of Hawaii, where the president spent his childhood; and African blue lilies, because of his Kenyan roots. I also saw a portrait of José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín, the first elected governor of Puerto Rico, which is where I’m from! #wepa
If you’re not aware, the National Portrait Gallery’s building is GIGANTIC, and I would love to go back to dedicate an entire day to wandering around all the exhibitions because it was impossible to take everything in. My favorite exhibition, apart from the presidential portraits, was the “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence,” where I learned about the women and organizations often overlooked in the narrative of women’s suffrage in our country, such as Lucy Burns, a woman who led the picketing of the White House targetting President Woodrow Wilson because women were being denied the right to vote.
The Arlington Cemetary was so much bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. Stretching for 624 acres, it is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families, beginning with the Civil War. While there is no cost to visit the cemetery grounds, I would recommend splurging for the paid tour, which is honestly very affordable, because if you don’t know where you’re going, like Halston and I, you might end up walking much more than you had anticipated. Plus, it would’ve been fun to have learned about the cemetery and those buried there. We did see President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite and memorial, The Eternal Flame, which was requested by his wife, Jackie O. He is buried with her, and their two children, who tragically passed away as infants. We also stopped by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to U.S. service members who have died without being identified.
The tomb is guarded and has been guarded every minute of every day since 1937. The guard is changed every thirty minutes during the summer, every hour during the winter, and every two hours when the cemetery is closed. Out of respect for the interred, it is required to be silent while at the memorial. The tomb guards perform a routine while watching the graves where they:
- March 21 steps south, down the 63′ long black mat laid across the Tomb.
- Turn and face east, toward the Tomb, for 21 seconds.
- Turn and face north, change weapon to the outside shoulder, and wait 21 seconds.
- March 21 steps down the mat.
- Turn and face east for 21 seconds.
- Turn and face south, change weapon to the outside shoulder, and wait 21 seconds.
- Repeat the routine until the solder is relieved.
Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed – the 21-gun salute. Footprints caused by the standing guard are visible on the mat, and on the ground not covered by the mat, marking the precise steps taking during the changing of the guard.
The United States National Arboretum is where I would plan picnic outings if I lived in Washington, D.C. The arboretum was established in 1927, consisting of 446 acres of land, and featuring a collection of gardens and a major center for botanical research. The main event at the arboretum is the National Capitol Columns. The 22 Corinthian columns were once part of the United States Capitol, from 1828 to 1958, and originally supported the old East Portico of the landmark. Visitors were lounging around and dipping their feet in the reflecting pool, while children ran around the field. It was lovely!
Completely tuned into nature, we also visited the United States Botanical Garden, the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the United States, as well as the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, where Halston became obsessed with every reptile known to man, and I fell in love with a very clumsy but adorable panda.
Between walking and riding electric scooters, we managed to stop by the Washington Monument, the United States Capitol, The White House (talk about underwhelming – I didn’t think it would be so small), the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Supreme Court of the United States (no RBG sightings), the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Chinatown, and the Library of Congress.
In four days, we walked close to 100,000 steps, or about 40 miles (that is about 20 days of walking for a lazy person like me) and let’s just say my poor feet and hips haven’t recovered, but just breathing in the history of the city was completely worth it! Like I said earlier, we haven’t even scratched the surface on what the city has to offer, and I’d love to return to continue exploring!
Have you been to Washington, D.C. before? Should we schedule a White House tour next time? Should we plan to hit up Alexandria or Georgetown?