WASHINGTON DC ! Summer & Autumn in the DMV

My husband started his Executive MBA program in DC this year and travels down from New York City every other weekend.  Kiwie and I have joined him twice this year.  The first trip was for 11 nights in August for the Opening Residency and the second trip was for 3 nights in October over Columbus Day weekend.  I’ve been to DC many times in the past and every trip I’ve discovered new things.  The lists below are from these recent trips and in the order of when visited


It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from New York City not including traffic or about a 3.5 hour train ride.  We have done both and each option has its pros and cons.  We haven’t opted to take the bus but it’s another mode of transportation that’s economical

Driving is convenient especially with Kiwie as we’re able to stop wherever we want along the way or take side trips.  It’s also nice having a car to get around once we arrive in DC.  However, driving can be tiring and traffic can extend the trip by several hours.  Parking can also be expensive

Taking the train is not quite as convenient, but it’s more relaxed, 
comfortable, and there’s free WiFi.  Plus it’s easy to get around by UBER/LYFT within the city.  Amtrak SAVER fares are discounted at $49 each way with advanced bookings.  The additional Pet Fee is $25 each way.  This was Kiwie’s first train ride !Amtrak

We have been fortunate enough to have stayed at several nice hotels in the area, FOUR SEASONS (11 nights), RITZ CARLTON (1 night), and MAYFLOWER (2 nights).  All are very conveniently located near restaurants, shopping, and sites.  Kiwie and I have explored the surrounding areas on our daily walks

This 5 Star / 5 Diamond hotel is located in Georgetown.  It’s dog-friendly and doesn’t charge a fee for pet stays.  There’s a fitness center with a steam room, sauna, whirlpool, and indoor lap pool, plus a small outdoor terrace with a few padded lounge chairs although it’s not too appealing for sunbathing.  The restaurant has an outdoor dining and lounge area where I sat one afternoon with Kiwie.  I ordered a mocktail, A Perfect Matcha, made with matcha, pennywort, fresh lime, fresh ginger, and soda, served tall over ice with candied ginger – very refreshing and it came with snacks !  Kiwie had a water on the rocks  [TIP:  The fitness center has free coconut water, beverages, and fruit for hotel guests]Four Seasons.jpg
The business center is really just an alcove in the lobby with a few computers and a printer.  Enough for checking emails or printing flight tickets but not for working remotely, so just I worked from our room.  A nice perk is that guests have the use of the Mercedes house car for transportation within the city (first-come first-serve).  Room amenities include Salvatore Ferragamo bath products and a PurSteam Fabric steamer, which I tried out, loved, and then ordered on Amazon.  Microwaves and refrigerators are available upon request and so are pet beds, which Kiwie approved !  [TIP:  Download the Four Seasons App to put in special requests and schedule housekeeping around daily doggie walks]
Kiwie Bed

This 5 Star hotel is located in Arlington, Virginia.  There is convenient access to the DC Metro, located just outside the hotel.  The FASHION CENTRE AT PENTAGON CITY is also located right next door.  There are tons of food options within walking distance.  The hotel is not dog-friendly (Shhh!) but we stayed here because my husband’s eMBA program was located here that weekend.  The rooms have a huge 65 inch TV and a refrigerator.  I didn’t use the wellness center, indoor pool, sauna, or steam room during our stay

This 4 Star historic hotel is located in Downtown DC and is part of Marriott.  The rooms are much smaller than the Four Seasons and Ritz but they are comfortable and have a refrigerator.  The location is walking distance to the WHITE HOUSE and NATIONAL MALL and an easy UBER/LYFT ride to other areas in DC  [TIP:  There is free bottled water and fruit in the Fitness Center]

There are so many dining options in DC and so far, we have only had a chance to try a few during our nights out.  I also made it a point to go to SWEETGREEN, which is my go-to salad spot in New York for lunch.  It’s originally from DC and was founded by Georgetown grads

Seafood restaurant located at the Georgetown Waterfront.  We went on a Friday evening during Happy Hour and sat with Kiwie in her carrier at the outdoor patio bar.  There was a bustling after-work crowd.  We ordered the Chesapeake Oysters, which were pretty bland, the Shrimp Tapas, which were cooked in a sour sauce and looked much better than they tasted, and Buffalo Chicken Sliders.  I would not recommend the food but the atmosphere is nice for happy hour drinks with a river view
Tony and Joes.jpg

For dessert, the original Georgetown Cupcake location is a must-visit, famous from the TLC Show, DC Cupcakes.  They have over 30 flavors offered each day.  My favorites are Coconut (classic coconut cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting topped with shredded coconut) and Vanilla Confetti Cone (classic Madagascar vanilla cupcake infused with rainbow candy nonpareils topped with Madagascar vanilla buttercream frosting and a pink fondant ice cream cone decoration)

Sushi restaurant located in Capitol Hill.  The omakase is very reasonably priced at $50 a person and the fish is fresh.  We had a prime spot at the sushi bar and watched as the chefs prepared the pieces.  Sushi with sake is the perfect pairing !


Farm-to-table restaurant located in Foggy Bottom.  The concept is pretty cool in that 47,000+ farmers own a majority of the restaurant and ingredients are supplied by family farms.  For drinks at the bar, my husband got the Islay Swizzle while I got a local Virginia rosé.  We are huge fans of scotch and the swizzle combines two of our favorites,
Monkey Shoulder and Lagavulin 16 year, along with kalani coconut liquer, lemon, passionfruit, and bitters.  [TIP:  You can pick-up a bottle of Monkey Shoulder at POTOMAC WINES & SPIRITS in Georgetown.  The bottle has 3 monkeys for the mix of single malts – Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Kininvie.  Smooth, sweet, and easy to drink !]
Founding Farmer Drinks
For appetizers, we got the Skillet Cornbread with sea salted churned butter and honey and Spicy Sausage PEI Mussels.  For entrees, we got the Salt Crusted Prime Rib and Shrimp & Grits with Andouille.  It was a really good meal and we’d go back to try some of the other dishes
Founding Farmers Food

Wine bar that is part of the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown.  They have Happy Hour on Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays until 7PM with 30% off bottles on Sundays.  They’re dog-friendly but with only two outdoor tables.  I ordered a lobster roll and white wine while Kiwie had a “good dog” bowl of water.  They also have a wine cellar-styled space upstairs for private events
ENO Wine

Seafood restaurant located in Annapolis, Maryland.  This is when a car comes in handy as we made a pit stop on the way driving back to New York.  This restaurant was featured on the Food Channel’s Food Paradise.  There is dog-friendly seating on the outdoor deck.  We ordered the Yin and Yang Soup (1/2 Maryland Crab, 1/2 Cream of Crab), Antoine’s Stuffed Oysters, Seafood Boil with sausage, and Annapolis’ Best Crab Cake Dinner.  Confirmed BEST Crab Cakes EVER !  No fillersBoatyard.jpg

Chicken chain with multiple locations in the DMV.  I first tried Nando’s in South Africa where it originated from.  While in Arlington, we stopped by the location near our hotel for lunch.  The 24-hour marinated Portuguese flame-grilled PERi PERi chicken is juicy and so good, especially with the PERi PERi sauces, including various degrees of spicy, garlic, and lemon & herb.  We had an order of PERi PERi Wings and a 1/2 Chicken with PERi Chips (aka fries) and Macho Peas Rugged Pea Mash with whole peas, parsley, mint, and chili.  They even gave us 2 coupons for free appetizers on our next visit (no purchase necessary).  The Arlington location has outdoor seating and is dog-friendly, although we were short on time so Kiwie did not join us for lunch  [TIP:  The chicken seems to be better and more moist earlier in the day]


Food truck serving fried chicken sandwiches.  While walking around the National Mall on a Saturday, I stopped for a bite at District Chicken.  There are many other food truck options but the smell of the fried chicken lured me over.  I ordered the Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich which had pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, pickles, and jalapeno slaw.  There are benches and grassy areas nearby to sit or picnic
Food Trucks.jpg

Burger joint from New York City.  There are many locations in DC.  We weren’t that hungry one night so we stopped by the location near our hotel for a Shake Shack fix, one of my husband’s favorite burgers.  He ordered a Shack Stack cheeseburger and ‘shroom burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce.  We got Kiwie a Pooch-ini consisting of dog biscuits in peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard.  Next door was a Nando’s so we redeemed our coupons for 2 free appetizers of PERi PERi Wings.  We had our dinner to-go in the comfort of our hotel.  Kiwie was extra happy to get her doggie bag !  [TIP: Shake Shack restaurants are dog-friendly with outdoor seating]
Shake Shack

Restaurant that has received accolades from various media publications.  We went for Sunday Brunch specifically to try the Duck and Foie Gras Waffles with foie gras butter, Sugarman maple syrup, and house
hotsauce.  There were no pieces of foie gras but the sauce was made from it.  The waffles were light and crispy with pieces of duck.  We also ordered the Angry Eggs which had spicy lamb in a garlic, tomato, and roasted pepper sauce topped with crispy potatoes.  As a side, we got Risotto Fries with bone marrow hollandaise, parmesan, chives, and truffle oil.  They were so crispy with amazing sauce.  For dessert, we got Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake with almond streusel and vanilla ice cream.  Every dish was delicious !Proof

Sports bar located in Penn Quarter near VERIZON CENTER (now Capital One Arena).  We stopped by after putting our name on the waitlist for ramen at DAIKAYA which is across the street.  It was a Sunday and my husband wanted to catch the football games so this spot was great since it has multiple TVs.  For drinks, my husband got a flight of wheat beers including a local DC brew while I got a New Fashioned mocktail made with muddled orange and cherry, cherry balsamic syrup, Stirrings orange bitters, and sugar topped with seltzer.  The service was slow so it’s a good thing we only got drinks

Penn Commons.jpg

Japanese Sapporo-style Ramen shop located in Penn Quarter.  Downstairs is the ramen restaurant and upstairs is the izakaya.  We arrived at 5:30PM and it was an hour wait for ramen.  They have an app where you can track your place in line and then they text when your table is ready.  I ordered the Shoyu Ramen in dark rich soy sauce broth with toasted garlic topped with 1/2 egg and my husband got the Spicy Miso Ramen in white miso broth.  Both were very good with perfectly textured noodles although my Shoyu Ramen was a little sweet for my particular taste as I prefer the more traditional Tokyo-style ramen


Casual breakfast spot with sweet and savory waffles along with sandwiches made with waffle buns.  There are a few bar stools inside and dog-friendly outdoor seating although it was raining so Kiwie didn’t join us.  For savory, we ordered the
Fried Chicken Waffle which was marinated chicken breast lightly breaded with Panko bread crumbs drizzled with sriracha syrup and topped with spicy slaw.  For sweet, we ordered the Strawberry Cheesecake Waffle which was topped with cream cheese and French custard cheesecake, strawberries, and whipped cream.  The waffles were extra light and crispy.  So delicious !
Wicked Waffle

Union Station outpost of the Bethesda-based restaurant known for its gourmet half-smokes, hot dogs, and burgers.  While waiting for the Amtrak train back to New York City, we picked up two half-smoke sausages on a griddled bun, the DC Classic topped with diced onions, spicy mustard, and chili, and the DC Guac topped with pico de gallo, guacamole, cilantro lime sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, and shredded crispy tortilla strips.  Good snack for the road !
Bold Bite

There are lots of shops on Georgetown’s main street, aptly named M STREET, including H&M, Anthropologie, Sephora, TJ Maxx, etc etc, plus many restaurants and bars.  One interesting site is the EXORCIST STEPS where a scene of the 1973 movie The Exorcist was film.  The scene was when the priest dies by throwing himself down the flight of stone steps in order to purge the demon from his body after having coaxed it out of the possessed little girl.  They are pretty steep steps !

This park is a nice place to stroll around, with views of the Potomac River.  Along the riverfront promenade, there is plenty of seating including granite river steps at the water’s edge and granite benches under a steel and cable pergola.  There’s also a large high-arching fountain that reminds me of the sprinkler we had on our deck that I used to run through as a kid.  Surrounding the columns at Washington Harbor, there are lots of restaurants and bars, most with outdoor seating  [TIP:  There’s also a boathouse nearby where you can rent kayaks, hydro bikes, paddle boards, and canoes]

Summers in DC are hot and humid so I decided to check out the rooftop pool at the Liaison Capitol Hotel.  Day passes are $35 for non-hotel guests.  Purchase online and check-in at the front desk to get a wrist band.  Towels are included.  I went before noon on a Sunday and was able to get a cabana bed (first-come first-serve, no extra charge).  There is a full bar and basic food menu.  The pool got more crowded in the later afternoon but the overall vibe was relaxed with music playing in the background.  The security guard was extra strict on no outside food or drinks 
[TIP:  On Mondays-Thursdays, admission is free after 5PM for Happy Hour]
Liason Capitol.jpg

Admission to the zoo is free !  I was in the Cleveland Park area one day so decided to stop by for a visit.  It was extremely hot and humid that day and I went during the afternoon so most of the animals were either napping or hiding from the heat.  I didn’t get to see the famous Giant Pandas, 
Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, but I figured I could go back to visit them another time.  I did see a Sloth Bear who was climbing all around and also saw a sleeping Clouded Leopard  [TIP:  Best time of day to visit is in the morning when the animals are most active and the temperature is cooler]

On another hot and humid day, I decided to head over to the pool at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.  Day passes are $30 for non-hotel guests.  Purchase directly from the front desk.  Towels are included.  I went in the early afternoon on a Saturday and was able to get a cabana bed (first-come first-serve, no extra charge) but there were plenty available as the pool area was only half full for most of the day.  The pool is much larger than the Liaison Capitol pool.  There is a basic bar and food menu.  The overall vibe was relaxed with music playing in the background  [TIP:  For a pool party scene, they have live DJs on holiday weekends]
Capitol Skyline.jpg

Simon Properties mall located in Arlington, Virginia connected to the Ritz Carlton hotel.  I walked through but didn’t spend much time shopping.  There are over 170 stores and restaurants including a food court.  Across the street on both sides of the mall, there are more shops at Pentagon Row and Pentagon Centre including a Costco
Pentagon City Mall.jpg

The gallery is a branch of the SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM that focuses on American craft and decorative arts from the 19th-21st Century.  Like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free.  The Parallax Gap exhibit is a puzzle-like architectural exhibit on the ceiling of the Grand SalonRenwick
An interesting piece was a vintage McDonalds paper happy meal bag that was cut out so that the interior created a paper model of a colorful tree.  Another interesting piece was a large quilt-like backlit mosaic piece, which upon closer look, is comprised of tiny filmstrips
Renwick Art

I passed by the White House on the way from the hotel to the museums.  I walked by the front and then around to the back, which is the more iconic view that you see in movies.  There were a lot of tourists outside taking photos and trying to catch a glimpse of the President.  Security is tight around the area.  I did not see THE DONALDWhite House

Despite it’s name, the National Mall is not a shopping mall.  It’s a memorial park which spans from the CAPITOL BUILDING in the east across the WASHINGTON MONUMENT to the LINCOLN MEMORIAL in the west.  The area includes the reflecting pool, various landmarks, museums, art galleries, cultural institutions, government buildings, memorials, sculptures, statues, and gardens
National Mall.jpg

The museum is in a cylindrical building and features international modern and contemporary art.  As a Smithsonian museum, admission is free.  Outside the building, there are various sculptures
The main exhibit currently on display is by a Chinese artist, AI WEIWEI.  His TRACE exhibit portrays 176 individuals whom the artist and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech.  The portraits are made up of 1.2 million LEGO pieces laid on the floor.  Surrounding the portraits is a 360-degree patterned wallpaper installation, with sketches of surveillance cameras, handcuffs, and Twitter bird logos.  The ultimate coloring book !Ai Wei Wei

My husband got free NLDS Game 2 tickets to watch the Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park.  We are NEW YORK METS fans but it was still fun to check out the game.  It was a Saturday night full house plus standing-room only.  From our seats, there was a nice sunset view of the WASHINGTON MONUMENT.  Dining options were standard ballpark food.  Rather than the METS Ford Cars Race which includes FDNY Frankie, NYPD Petey, Louie the Limo, and Tammy the Taxi, the NATS have a Presidents Race featuring George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.  Jefferson won the race as he ducked out at the half-way mark to grab a bicycle and rode his way to undeserved glory.  Cheater !  The Nationals came back to score 5 runs in the 8th inning, winning the game 6-3
Nationals Baseball.jpg

While not part of the Smithsonian, this museum is still free.  There are 2 buildings of the museum, East which has modern and contemporary art and West which houses 13th-20th Century European and American art.  We quickly walked through the West Building and made our way over to the East Building as I’m more interested in modern art.  Rooms will indicate whether photography is allowed.  For the most part, do not touch the artwork, with the exception of the “sculpture” of gray tiles.  That, you can step all over !  The roof terrace has some seating and a giant blue rooster sculptureSculpturesEdvard Munch  |  Pablo Picasso  |  Andy Warhol  |  Saul Steinberg
Artists 1Jackson Pollock  |  Mark Rothko  |  Joan Miro  |  Roy Lichtenstein
Artists 2Wassily Kandinsky  |  Henri Matisse  |  Henri Rousseau  |  Piet Mondrian
Artists 3

This museum seems to be a kid-favorite.  Free admission as part of the Smithsonian museums.  It’s dedicated to aviation and space travel, with lots of objects on display, including old airplanes, the U.S. Air Force Predator drone, and other military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, as well as Space Race era objects including missiles and rocketsAir Space Museum

We happened to be at COLUMBUS CIRCLE on Columbus Day.  The statue of Christopher Columbus in the fountain did not seem to need protection like the statues in New York City.  It was pretty quiet around the station except for traffic.  Kiwie explored the outside area before boarding.  Inside the station, there are lots of shops and food options to kill time while waiting for the train  [TIP:  The NATIONAL POSTAL MUSEUM is across the street]
Union Station.jpg

🗽 DMV -> NYC 🗽
Overall, Kiwie and I had a great time accompanying my husband to DC.  We did a lot but there is so much else to explore.  We look forward to more trips next year to see the Cherry Blossoms and to attend his graduation !


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