Over the last few years, Washington, DC has been a frequent travel destination of ours. We’ve had family and friends in the area for the last ten years and it’s a quick direct flight for us so it’s always a fun weekend trip. We initially planned to visit the district over Memorial Day in 2020, but due to COVID restrictions at the time, scrapped our plans and postponed our visit until June 2021. Currently, things are opening up, but there are still a number of restrictions. Masks are still required at all times on the DC metro and most museums have limited entry with advance ticketed reservations required. Also, we noticed that in the downtown area in particular, some restaurants were not open or had limited hours. To be perfectly candid, we experienced a few inconveniences, but I think it’s safe to assume that things will only continue to open up from here.
We stayed at The Darcy Hotel near Logan Circle. We previously stayed at the hotel during a visit in 2018 and enjoyed the comfortable rooms and convenient location. Since that time, the hotel is under new ownership, but still maintains some of the special touches such as the daily gin tasting. Unfortunately, the hotel restaurant and bar is closed due to COVID, but the front desk sells assorted sundries, including snacks and canned mixed drinks. Currently, the outdoor patio is under construction, but the coffee shop next door is still open and accessible from within the hotel. On this trip, we stayed in a one-bedroom suite, so with the extra room, our boys were able to have a slumber party in their own room with their SlumberPods (see my review here), and we all slept well during our vacation.
It’s funny thinking back on some of our previous DC trips and comparing them to the more recent visits with our kids (now 3.5 and 1.5 years old). Pre-kids, we walked 10-12 miles a day and stayed out late on the DC bar circuit. It’s a little different now, but just as fun. Our days start and end earlier and we move at a slower pace, but we love it. DC is a great place to visit with kids and there is so much to do and so much for them to learn!
We arrived on Thursday morning and after checking into our hotel, we walked to the nearby Cornerstone Cafe to pick up deli sandwiches, which we brought to eat in Lafayette Square in front of the White House while we talked to our kids about the President and his home (mostly they just ran around the park)! One of the great things about staying at the Darcy is that it’s walkable to many of the tourist sites, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, and several metro stops. We were able to easily access the red, orange, silver, and blue lines throughout our visit.
Next, we walked to the Washington Monument. At this point, it started raining, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a nap since we had been up early for our flight. We had reserved timed entry passes for 3pm for the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive at the museum until after 3:30 so we only had a few minutes before it closed, but we were able to quickly walk through the museum and see a totem pole, traditional canoes and kayaks, and ceremonial dress. The kids enjoyed it and it was a nice reprieve from the rain.
They were even more excited once we left the museum because we decided to get ice cream while we watched the ducks in front of the U.S. Capitol. Luckily, there is no shortage of ice cream vendors around the National Mall so we easily found a milkshake and soft serve. The boys loved both the ice cream and the duck-watching and we played for a while before it was time to find dinner.
Since it had started raining again, we decided to pick up dinner on the way home at Pogiboy DC at The Block Food Hall. We picked up a 1/2 chicken with rice and greens, and some chicken for the boys to share. The food was fantastic, but spicy, particularly the sauces. We enjoyed it, but if you’re sensitive to spice, it may not be the best choice. The only other open vendor at the food hall was the bar, so you can enjoy a drink while you wait for your food.
One of the convenient aspects of staying at the Darcy is that the hotel connects to a great little coffee shop called Bluestone Lane. The cafe menu is Australian and they serve an excellent breakfast. We all got bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches and of course, coffee and tea.
Originally, our plan for Friday was to visit the zoo, but the weather forecast called for rain the entire day so we put our heads together and came up with a new plan with the help of some of our local friends. We were able to secure same-day tickets for the American History Museum by logging into the reservation system at 9 am (several of the Smithsonians release extra same-day tickets at 9 am and noon each day if you didn’t have them in advance). We all loved the museum. The kids especially enjoyed the trains, cars, and boats in the transportation exhibit. My husband and I found the presidential section and the consumer behavior exhibits particularly interesting as well.
If you’re visiting the Smithsonians with kids this summer, make sure you find out whether the museum cafes are open. They were not open yet during our vacation, which was quite an inconvenience. Since the museum only opens from 11-4 and our kids take a nap/rest during the afternoon, we expected to have lunch at the museum. Instead, they ended up having a lunch of snacks with “real” food after we left the museum. It wasn’t ideal, so if you can plan ahead to bring lunch with you, that might help since you can’t leave and return to the museum later. It was still raining when we left the museum, so we walked over to the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center for smoothies and paninis from one of the vendors in the food court.
The rain lightened up a bit after lunch, so we took advantage to visit the Sculpture Garden and let the kids run and play outside for a while until it started pouring again. They enjoyed watching the ducks, throwing leaves into the fountain, and seeing what other kids were doing.
When it started raining again, we decided it would be a great time for our first family movie, so we all settled into the comfy couch in our hotel and watched the Lorax together on the smart TVs in the room. At dinnertime, it was still raining, so instead of venturing out, we decided to order DoorDash to our hotel. We remembered enjoying FarmBird on our last visit to DC, so ordered a few chicken and vegetable meals to share before calling it a night.
In the morning, we walked to Firehook Bakery in Dupont Circle, where we got egg and cheese croissants, muffins, and coffee and tea. It was a great bakery and it was really nice to take a walk after a day and a half of rain! We had plans to meet some friends at the National Zoo so after breakfast, we took the metro to the zoo stop. Despite the ticket reservation showing all timed tickets were reserved for the whole weekend, we were able to snag last minute tickets released the night before on the ticket reservation system without a problem. The zoo was one of our favorite stops of the weekend. The boys enjoyed seeing all of the animals and the seals were especially active! Also, all of the cafes in the zoo were open and available which made our visit a lot easier.
After lunch, we returned to the hotel for a nap before heading to Arlington to meet some more friends for dinner at their new home. It was so nice to catch up with our friends and play outside and we even saw several of the infamous 2021 cicadas.
The next morning, we met up with more friends for brunch at Founding Farmers, which was delicious. Luckily we had a reservation, because it was incredibly busy with many people waiting outside. We thought about going to Nationals Park for the afternoon to see the baseball game, but we were all tired and had a late evening flight, so we went back to the hotel for naps. Before heading toward the airport, we walked to the Milk Bar store in Logan Circle for a milkshake and slice of cake. We also stopped at the Lincoln Memorial/Reflecting Pool for one last view of DC before our return flight home.
It was a great visit and besides the rain, the weather couldn’t have been prettier for June. It was another fantastic visit and we definitely recommend visiting DC with kids, although maybe wait until things open up just a little bit more. Until next time! Have you visited Washington, DC recently? What was your favorite thing to do?
The Darcy Hotel, 1515 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
Cornerstone Cafe, 1501 M St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Pogiboy DC, 1100 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
Bluestone Lane, 1515 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
FarmBird, 625 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Firehoot Bakery, 1909 Q St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Founding Farmers, 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
Milk Bar Logan Circle, 1525 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
National Museum of the American Indian, 4th St SW, Washington, DC 20560
National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560
National Gallery of Art – Sculpture Garden, Constitution Ave NW &, 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20408
National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008