Grey skies, Monuments and Cupcakes. That sums up my first trip to Washington, D.C and I loved every moment of it.
I had been going to D.C for business for several years, but never thought to explore the city. I would fly in , check into my hotel, attend to business matters, check out and fly back home. On most trips, I never even left my hotel (tsk tsk). On one of my last trips, I decided to explore the city. It turned out to be one of my favorite travel experiences - so much history and culture.
I had only 48 hours to explore and with all there is to see and do in D.C. - I had to choose one area to explore. As a faux hisory buff, I decided to explore the monument, save the food exploration, dupont circle and Georgetown for another trip.
Day 1. I flew in late saturday night and I had every intention of getting up early to attend sunday service at National Community Church - but I did not set an alarm and I ended up sleeping in till about noon on Sunday (yikes !)
Shortly after 1 p.m, I took a cab from my hotel to the national mall. I was dropped off close to the walkway leading up to the Washington monument. During my visit, the monument was closed for renovations, so I decided to walk towards the United states capitol.
A section of the National mall is lined on both sides with historical sites and museums - including the Smithsonian Institute Building. I am a sucker for architecture and the red brick building of the Smithsonian Institute drew me in (and the garden is a beaut).
There is also the National museum of American History, National gallery of arts sculpture garden, National museum of natural history (great stop if you are traveling with kids); Joseph Henry Statue in front of the Smithsonian. There is a lot more to see, those are just a few of the ones I got around to on my walk to the Capitol.
The walk to the capitol building took about 5 hours because I stopped into most of the museums along the path to the capitol steps. At some point, I grabbed a gyro sandwich from one of the food trucks, perched myself on a bench and just people watched folks playing flag football, picnicing, laying out in the sun - it was nice to be doing nothing.
tip: (wear very comfortable shoes if you are planning a visit.)
Day II was all about the grey skies and monuments.
I planned an early start with a visit to Paul for breakfast before starting off my day, but I missed the alarm again and did not get out of bed until about 11 a.m. With the late start, I decided to skip breakfast and head back to the National mall - there was still a mile of exploration to go.
I started off at the washington monument , again. This time walking towards the reflecting pool and the lincoln memorial with stops at the White House, Korean War Veteran's memorial, World War II memorial. Then off from that area to the Martin Luther King memorial, Thomas Jefferson memorial and FDR memorial.
My first detour on the path to the Lincoln memorial was to check out the White House. It was ridiculously crowded around the North side and with the barricades, I only got within about 500 feet of it (now that I have a few visits to D.C. under my belt, I have to say, the south side offers a much better view). Because of the crowd and the slight drizzles, I did not linger here - I took a few snapshots of the white house and got back to the path toward the Lincoln memorial.
It was mid afternoon at this point so I grabbed lunch from one of the food vendors on the street and headed to the World War II memorial. The plan was to perch myself on one of stairs at the WW II memorial, people watch, observe the fountain and have a quick lunch, but the rain started to come down just as I arrived. I took cover under one of the few covered spots to wait out the rain and that's when I found Texas.
The WW II memorial has a pillar/reef dedicated to each state and as I took cover from the rain - I found myself closer to the pillar dedicated to my adopted home state of Texas. There were not a lot of areas with covering at the WW II memorial so most of the visitors were cramped in a tiny space. After twenty minutes waiting out the rain , I took some snapshot with and of Texas before making my way to the reflecting pool and then the Lincoln memorial.
The size of the Lincoln memorial is impressive and the view of the Washington monument and the reflecting pool from the Lincoln memorial is a must see. Off the path from the Lincoln memorial is the Korean war memorial - it is very different than the other monuments in the city - there is no largess or forte around it, but I think it is the simplicity of it that I loved most.
The Martin Luther king and FDR memorial are off the path of the two mile stretch from the capitol to the Lincoln memorial - but still in walking distance. The MLK monument is the newest one to be added and it is an absolute must see/visit and it offers a great view of the Jefferson memorial across the water.
At this point - my feet were howling, but the FDR memorial was just round the corner (and I promised myself a visit to Georgetown cupcakes if I made it through my list of monuments to visit. FDR (and his dog) were the only thing between me and a (two) cupcake. I ignored the pain and headed over to check out FDR (and his dog). I got through my last monument about 4 p.m. I circled back to the MLK monument, hailed a cab to Georgetown cupcakes and stuffed my face with a peanut butter fudge cupcake - it was delish.
If a visit to the nation's capitol is not on your radar - it's time to make it a priority. So much culture and history packed in the 2 mile stretch from the Capitol to the Lincoln memorial.