The last weekend of March, we visited friends and celebrated Easter in one of our favorite cities, Washington, DC. Friends and followers might remember our previous trips to the capital city (recapped here, here, here, and here). We’ve been to DC many times, but had never traveled together to see the cherry blossoms. For a few weeks it seemed that we would be there during peak bloom (which you can track at this NPS website), but a cold snap a few days before our arrival pushed it back. We ended up visiting just a few days before peak bloom but still saw plenty of cherry blossoms around the city. This visit was also a bit different from previous trips because we brought our little baby along for the fun! Our nights looked different since we were back in the hotel in time for his bedtime, but our days were still full of fun – our little buddy is easy-going and loves to travel like we do!
We stayed at The Darcy, a Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel, located a short walk from the action on 14th Street and in Logan Circle. The hotel was also a 15-minute walk from the White House and 30-minute walk from the rest of the monuments and museums on the Mall.
Not only was The Darcy in a prime location, but the hotel offered many amenities that were helpful to those traveling with a baby. We took advantage of borrowing a travel crib and stroller for our weekend so we didn’t have to bring so much on the plane. The stroller available through the hotel was this one, which was a compact size for getting around the city with ease yet still had plenty of storage and a cover in case of rain. It also reclined which really helped for naps on the go.
Another perk of the Darcy was the free daily cocktail tasting at 5:30. Each evening, hotel staff made the hotel’s signature gin cocktail to share with guests. The “Darcy Double” is only offered at cocktail hour so don’t miss it! There is also a wonderful little coffee and breakfast cafe attached to the hotel, Lil’B Coffee and Eatery, that is perfect for a little something to begin your day.
On our first day in the capital city, the weather was wet and windy on and off so we did activities that would allow us to quickly duck inside for shelter if necessary. We walked to the White House and the National Portrait Gallery just in time to avoid the cold rain. Neither Alex nor I had visited the National Portrait Gallery and we both thoroughly enjoyed it! The museum features portraits of every American president as well as portraits of famous American leaders, artists, scientists, actors, and other well-known figures. It’s also a baby-friendly and kid-friendly museum and despite the spring break crowds, we had no trouble getting around with our umbrella stroller. The only areas of the museum that were particularly crowded were around the newly unveiled Obama portraits.
We also visited the adjoining American Art Gallery for a walk through several interesting art installations. My favorite was the Electronic Superhighway, a video installation of a United States map that features monitors of flashing images that represent each state “seen as though from a passing car.”
From there, we walked to the United States Capitol to walk the grounds, admire the cherry blossoms, and take photos.
We took the metro back to our hotel before changing and meeting my brother and his girlfriend at Ghibbelina for my favorite kind of happy hour: pizza and wine! From 4-6:30 on Monday-Wednesday and 3-6:30 on Thursday to Sunday, you can order $8 cocktails, $6 glasses of wine, and $6 pints along with $10 pizzas from the happy hour menu. The pizza is uniquely served with scissors that you use to literally slice the pizza. I will note that happy hour at this restaurant is not ideal for a baby. The only way to get the happy hour special is to sit at the bar or one of the few bar tables (which disappear quickly) so there is not much room for a baby or their things. I was wearing our baby so it was manageable, but there was no way I could have taken him out of the carrier to sit down. What to order: Margherita di Bufala for a classic go-to or Salsiccia e Cipolla for something a bit spicier.
Before heading back to our hotel for the night, we went next door to Pearl Dive for one more happy hour drink. Happy hour at Ghibbelina includes half price draft beers, $5 glasses of wine, $7 vodka martinis, and half price oysters.
On our second day in Washington, DC, we headed out early to enjoy the cherry blossoms before the large crowds descended on the Mall. We walked along the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial, which was already quite crowded even at an early hour. In all of our trips to DC, this was our first time visiting the Jefferson Memorial. The walk around the Tidal Basin is very pleasant and definitely worth leaving the Mall to visit.
We met some of our friends and their children at the Blossom Kite Festival, which took place near the Washington Monument. From there, we walked by the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Our friends’ kids are all older and enjoyed running around flying their kites and watching all of the big kites from kite makers and fliers from around the world.
After our eventful morning, we headed over to the District Wharf, a retail and business establishment along the Potomac River that opened in October 2017 with over 75 restaurants and shops. We had lunch at Shake Shack before walking down the mile-long Wharf to enjoy the sunny day.
Before heading back to the Darcy for our early bedtime, we made a few stops in Logan Circle with our friends. We stopped at La Colombe to feed the baby and have tea. La Colombe is best-known for its draft lattes and cold brews, but it was a bit late in the day for me to have caffeine, so I chose from a great selection of tea served in the sweetest little tea cups. We tried to go to Franklin Hall for drinks, but were turned away because we had our baby. No kids apparently includes infants, even at 3 in the afternoon, so skip this one if you are traveling with your baby! We stopped at Drafting Table for pre-dinner drinks and picked up salads at Sweet Green to bring back to our hotel. Sweet Green is a fantastic and healthy fast casual option that uses simple, seasonal ingredients to make delicious salads. Menu changes seasonally, but if you see it on the menu, the Curry Chickpea Bowl is excellent.
Sunday was Easter. We attended services at the historic St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. Every sitting President of the United States beginning with James Madison has worshiped at the church. It is a National Historic Landmark and was quite the setting for Easter services. Unfortunately, our baby wasn’t exactly in the mood to sit through a long Episcopalian service, so I spent most of it holding him while he napped across the street in the historic Hay-Adams lobby.
After leaving the service, we had brunch at The Smith in Penn Quarter. The Smith serves seasonal and local food and craft cocktails in a lively atmosphere. The building is beautiful and features a ceiling inspired by Union Station’s ceiling. The food is decadent, but portions are large so keep that in mind when ordering. I ordered the Breakfast Pot Pie and couldn’t even make it through half of my meal.
After a busy weekend, it became clear that baby needed a real nap in a quiet place so we headed back to The Darcy for a few hours before checking out. We all woke up refreshed and met our friends and my brother at the Renwick Gallery for a special exhibition called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man. The exhibit aims to capture the spirit of the Nevada desert festival and includes full-scale installations from past festivals as well as costumes and photos from the people who have attended. It was very interesting, but there are bright colors and loud music throughout, so it may be overstimulating for little ones. If you live in DC or are visiting before January 21, 2019, don’t miss it!
Our final stop before heading to the airport for our evening flight was a late lunch/afternoon snack at The Hamilton. The menu is extensive and while my meal wasn’t a standout, the 1/2 price happy hour sushi that my husband and our friend shared was delicious!
We always love visiting our nation’s capital. I’m sure it is only a matter of a time before we return for more fun with our friends and family who live there. Thanks for reading! If you’ve been to DC to see the cherry blossoms, please let me know in the comments!