Back in summer 2019, EmJay and I were surfing the net when we received an email from British Airways promoting their luxury business class sale, 2 Club World (business class) seats for £2019 to select destinations. Being travelholics this was a no brainer, the only decision was where to?? We looked at destinations and considering the time we had, we chose a weekend in Washington DC a mere 4 weeks later in September.
We booked onto the early morning British Airways flight from London Heathrow’s terminal 5 on a Thursday, and came back on the evening flight from Dulles International airport on the Monday, (which arrived back Tuesday morning to London) to maximise our time in the United States capital city. There were plenty of hotels to choose from, all within walking distance of tourist spots, and we chose The Madison on 15th street, right in the heart of the city centre.
The hotel for our weekend in Washington DC was perfectly placed to get to the McPherson Square Metro station, which is the easiest and most efficient mode of transport around the city. We’d read lots of blogs which advised that the city is really walkable, and we found that lots of areas were; but if you want to see different neighbourhoods, or you aren’t up for a super long walk, then the metro is the way to go. Another thing that locals and tourists alike use to get around is electric scooters, they work the same way as Santander bikes do in London. You download an app to your phone, pay for the amount of time you want the scooter for and then unlock via the app. We never tried them but we saw lots of them around and it looked like a fun way to get around the city quickly if that’s what you want to do.
We set out our itinerary as below:
- Land at Dulles International Airport
- Uber to the hotel in the city (Approximately $40 USD in September 2019)
- Check in at The Madison Hotel
- Go to a local baseball game
- Tour of the Capitol Building
- Walk up the National Mall
- Grab some street food from the trucks down the middle
- See the Washington Monument
- Take in the peace and serenity of the World War 2 memorial and Lincoln memorial reflecting pool
- Visit the famous Lincoln Memorial
- Walk by the White House
- Go out to brunch
- Visit Georgetown
- Take in the sites of the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial by night
- Visit a museum
- Get a nice brunch/lunch
- Check out of your hotel
- Uber to Dulles International airport
The day started with an early morning drive to Heathrow to beat the rush hour traffic. Leaving our car in the long stay car park, we caught the short bus ride to the terminal. After quickly dropping off our bags we headed over to the British Airways business lounge. As we were early, we had the opportunity to book into the Elemis spa for a quick 15 minute treatment. These were the perfect way to relax before a flight. With quite a while till our flight, we made the most of the business lounge offerings, having breakfast, coffee and a cheeky bloody Mary or two.
We landed into Dulles International airport around 2pm and made our way through immigration and to pick up our baggage. I would recommend waiting until you have all your luggage and going outside to order your uber, the app will tell you which exit you need to go to. It cost around $40 to get to our hotel and took roughly an hour.
In the days leading up to our trip, we’d decided we wanted to go to a baseball game and we were lucky enough that the Washington Nationals were playing the evening we arrived; so we booked tickets online to watch the Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park that evening.
The stadium was full and we were sitting amongst the locals and soaking up the atmosphere. I didn’t really know the rules of the game but EmJay was helping explain them. There was a fantastic atmosphere even though the Washington Nationals were defeated. There were so many different options to choose from for food, fries, chilli, pizza, burgers, you name it, they had a stall for it. We stuck with the popular options and had some local beer and had some delicious italian sausage hot dogs for dinner which were slathered with grilled onions and peppers. I’d definitely recommend going to a game if you can while you’re there, especially if you haven’t gone to one before.
As the game came to a close, we opted to walk back to our hotel. It was a gorgeous warm evening in the American capital, and the walk took about an hour. We caught our first glimpse of the Capitol Building lit up, and other famous landmarks, which were on our list to see over the next two days.
After a good night’s sleep, we were raring to go for the day. Weather for the day was forecast to be around 30c / 86f, and very humid. Before leaving London, we booked onto a tour of the Capitol building for 11am, the tours are free and can be booked via their website. We caught the metro over to the Capitol building and made our way through security. The tour started with a short movie followed by a small group guided tour into various areas of the building; learning about how it was built and seeing the intricate design work that went into creating it. It was a great way to spend the morning and learn about American history. It was pretty quiet as it was the weekend, but this didn’t affect us at all.
Leaving the impressive building (more importantly air conditioning) we walked the 2.3 miles down the National Mall and all the way to the Lincoln memorial. The walking paths are great and there are lots of trees if you need some shade from the beating sun.
Just before you arrive at the Washington Monument, all along 14th street, there are close to 20-30 food trucks (potentially more!). It was a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat. Most the vendors are reaching out for custom so will provide tasters if you want them. They had everything from grilled cheese to authentic Thai noodles and ice cream trucks. It was great to wander around and see what everyone was offering.
We stuck with something we knew and got a spicy chicken burger with fries and a garlic aioli. It was scrumptious. We ordered and then found an area under some trees and ate our picnic together.
Afterward, we carried on walking down and found an ice cream truck just before we got to the World War 2 memorial, doesn’t it look incredible?
The memorial had a really peaceful atmosphere, and you could really feel that people were taking it as an opportunity to remember those who were lost which was really nice to see. It was the same on our walk toward the Lincoln memorial, the reflecting pool, though busy was really peaceful. I couldn’t help but wonder if the octopus from the second night at the museum movie would come jumping out when we visited in the evening though… EmJay thought I was crazy.
Our walk back to the hotel was about 45 mins, and we chose to go via the Albert Einstein monument and then the White House which we were quite excited to see. Unfortunately, the viewing point is now a long way back, and extremely busy. We did look at the option of going on a White House guided tour, but it’s now only available to US citizens.
At this stage, our feet were begging for a rest, so we headed back to the hotel to relax and cool down.
For dinner we went to Succotash, a restaurant serving Southern Inspired dishes with a modern twist. I had spent a lot of time narrowing down where we were going to eat whilst in Washington, and after checking menus and reviews, I was excited to try out this place. I got the chicken and waffles, and EmJay got salmon with a mixed salad. We had 2 courses and it was all tasty but nothing we’d return for. We didn’t bother with desserts as I’d found out there was a Milk store near our hotel, we took a nice walk up to there for some cereal milk flavoured ice cream and chocolate cake afterward. EmJay wasn’t keen on the cereal milk ice cream but I absolutely loved it! I would love to try more from their stores as everything looked so appetising.
Brunch! We went to Lincoln’s Waffle Shop located on 10th Street NW, located across the road from Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was assassinated. Don’t be fooled by the look of this unassuming restaurant, the staff were super friendly and the food was absolutely delicious! I got waffles and EmJay went for chicken and waffles, delicious juicy fried chicken wings and 2 sunny side up eggs served alongside a crunchy on the outside, squidgy on the inside waffle. It was a great start to our day!
Afterward, we jumped on the Metro and went across to Georgetown, it was really busy which was nice as we hadn’t seen too many people around the city so far. It was full of shops and restaurants with some nice local businesses thrown into the mix. We stopped off to get a coffee and walked along the waterfront too which was full of restaurants and bars. If we’d known this was the place to be, we would have gone there on Saturday night!
For dinner on that evening, we walked up to the original Ben’s Chili Bowl. It’s a bit of an institution, so a must do for a weekend in Washington DC, with lots of celebrity clientele. We got burgers and a set of chili cheese fries to share. It felt like going back in time when we walked through the door, and even though the food didn’t absolutely blow us away, it was nice to have experienced it once. Don’t miss the beautiful wall paintings on the side of the building, they were amazing!
As this was our last day, we didn’t plan to do too much, we visited the Smithsonian air and space museum, this was the only museum we did on our trip as it’s the only one we were interested in seeing. We read that they are super busy over the weekends as they are free to get in, so we decided to use Monday morning to visit. There was still a queue to get in but it didn’t take too long and the museum itself was full of fascinating aviation facts and American Air Force history.
Before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the airport, we went for brunch at Ted’s Bulletin, another DC institution, it’s famous for it’s homemade pop tarts and all day brunches.
We were pretty underwhelmed with the food but the milkshake was incredible!
Overall, a weekend in Washington DC was nice. Our personal criticisms being, everything in the city was eerily quiet over the weekend, we weren’t expecting this and the homeless issue seemed more obvious than in other major US cities we have visited. Many of the restaurants, bars and coffee shops by our hotel were closed Saturday and Sunday and those that were open were very quiet. It was somewhere we have always wanted to visit, however not somewhere we would choose to visit again.
Our weekend in Washington DC was a little underwhelming in terms of the city itself, but we still had the best adventure in a new city! Have you been anywhere that hasn’t completely blown you away? I’d love to know in the comments!
If you’d like to read about our other trips, check out our trip to South Africa here.