Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How To Do The DC Area In Three Days (And Still See A Lot!)


My husband and I are certified travel junkies. Any chance we get, we are dropping off the kids and hopping on a plane to wherever we decided is next on our list. I love our life. A couple of weeks ago, my kids were in Florida for Spring Break so we decided to take some extra days off and get away ourselves. If we're just going for a weekend, we tend to stay closer to home; California destinations typically. But since we had an extra couple of days, we decided to fly ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY and visit one of my very favorite spots: the Washington DC area.

My husband hadn't been since he was seven years old, and I fell in love with it while living there for a travel nursing job in 2012, so we decided to head out there for some fun.

The thing about the DC area is it is COMPLETELY overwhelming with things to do. You could spend a month there and still not see and do everything, so we wanted to organize the three days we'd have and see as much as we could.


My first recommendation is to fly out early and fly back late. Flying back on Monday evening (and gaining three hours going from DC to Arizona) was a big bonus; it gave us the day to fit something else in before flying back. We left on a Friday afternoon and four hours later landed in Baltimore. My second recommendation, if you don't JUST HAVE TO stay in downtown DC, is to stay in the area of the Baltimore airport. It is easier to get in and out, and it was centrally located to all of the activities that we wanted to do. Traffic is MUCH easier to conquer if you stay outside of DC near Baltimore. We like the Embassy Suites Baltimore Airport, it was a nice hotel with great amenities, so that we were able to grab free breakfast before heading out everyday.


Make Reservations Here for the Embassy Suites Baltimore Airport

Since we lost three hours flying out, we got in late and headed to bed right away so that we'd be up early to get our day going without the time change affecting us too much.

Day One: 

We debated on how to organize the weekend because there were several things we wanted to do: spend time in DC proper, visit Gettysburg (on my sweetheart's bucket list), go to George Washington's Mount Vernon, and walk around the Baltimore Inner Harbor. For day one, we chose to head down to Mount Vernon, about an hours drive from our hotel, and spend a few hours at the home of the the father of our nation.




Let me tell you, Mount Vernon is BEAUTIFUL, and absolutely worth the trip. The historical portion is fascinating and the grounds are stunning on the bank of the Potomac River. To stand on the porch where George and Martha Washington undoubtedly sat hand in hand, looking at the same sights that more than 200 years later was touching. Get there early, as the tour of his actual home is scheduled by time when you purchase your tickets, and we barely got into the last group of the day and had three hours to kill before our house tour time was available (no worries--there is plenty to see and do on the grounds while you're waiting, including he and Martha's tomb).




Purchase Tickets to Mount Vernon Here, There Is A $2 Discount Purchasing Online!

There are no photos allowed inside the home, which included the same bed President Washington died in, hence you get the outside. You're welcome.

To continue our day, we wanted to head back into DC for dinner. We are suckers for seafood, but also like things casual for the most part. I did some research prior to the trip and found the PERFECT spot! Be forewarned, it's in the Georgetown area and on a Saturday night the traffic is UNREAL. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you want to go.

After finding super expensive underground parking in Georgetown, we walked a couple of blocks to a tiny little restaurant that had rave reviews. You do NOT want to miss out on LUKE'S LOBSTER!
In a little building, you will find DELICIOUS Maine lobster and all of the necessary accompaniments. We both ordered the Maine lobster roll (my favorite thing of all time, I got hooked on them while living in Maine), with JUST butter and seasoning. No ruining it with mayo for me.
And let me tell you, the lobster roll is to die for. 

We took our food up the narrow wooden staircase to the second floor and shared a table with another couple (yes, it's THAT small). I grabbed a Maine blueberry soda and we overlooked the hustle and bustle of a beautiful spring evening in Georgetown. HEAVEN. Just heaven.


 



After Luke's we had one more stop before heading back to the hotel for the night. We walked a few blocks over to GEORGETOWN FREAKING CUPCAKE! Ok, so it's JUST Georgetown Cupcake, but I love this place. My daughter and I used to watch their show on TLC and went there several times when we lived there. They have cupcakes from heaven. My husband was shocked, even with my prior warning, to see the line that went DOWN THE BLOCK just for cupcakes. I assured him it would be worth it. :)






Forty minutes after getting into line, we picked up cupcakes for that day, AND for the next. He went with red velvet and chocolate, I went with cherry cheesecake and pink tulip. If you ever want to order some and have them shipped to you, it's worth it! Click the link above to treat yo'self.

After this we walked around Georgetown holding hands in the beautiful evening, did some shopping and then headed back to Baltimore to get some ZZZ's for day two.

Day Two: 


Up bright and early on this day, because we had some ambitious plans. Today we were conquering both DC and Gettysburg. We could have spent the whole day in DC, however, my husband has always wanted to see Gettysburg, being the southern hottie that he is, so I vowed that we'd get it in there no matter how long this day ended up being.

First off we drove into the city, which, from Baltimore is truly easy as far as distance. It doesn't take more than 30 minutes if traffic is good. We decided we were going to a good museum first, then to the national mall.  We chose the Newseum! It's not one of the free Smithsonian museums in the area, but well worth the admission. We went on recommendation of a friend who happens to be a travel blogger! It was fascinating and we spent a couple of hours there perusing the multiple levels of the museum, observing things from pieces of the Berlin Wall, to the antenna from the south tower of the World Trade Center, to our favorite part: the FBI exhibit where they actually have the entire cabin that belonged to the Unibomber and the suit OJ was wearing when the verdict was read. We truly enjoyed the museum and the breathtaking views of the Capitol building, just down the block.



After the Newseum, we were a little hungry, and still in search of seafood, as always. My husband has been to one of the Legal Sea Food locations elsewhere and wanted to try this one. He raved about the clam chowder, which has been served at every presidential inauguration since Ronald Reagan's. We had to check it out.

AND IT'S THE BEST. I GET IT. We both had crab rolls with a side of clam chowder, which hit the spot because it was a colder, blustery day.



After lunch we took a walk for a few blocks down to the national mall, to stand in the middle and see the Capitol on one end and the Washington monument on the other. It added to the experience to have seen George Washington's home and learned so much more about his life the day before. Knowing we still wanted to get up to Gettysburg this day, we didn't spend much time there, as it was also getting very cold (hence my warming my face on my husband's cheek). :) But he needed to see it again, as he hadn't since 1978.


After the mall we walked back to the car and headed to Gettysburg, about an hour and a half away. It would technically be the fourth state we'd be in in only two days! Staying in Maryland, Mount Vernon in Virginia, the District of Columbia and now on to Pennsylvania. We checked the times for the Gettysburg Visitors Center and it looked like we could make it with fifteen minutes to spare, so we could pick up a map and do the auto tour of the area. EXCEPT, when we arrived, we had just missed it. Luckily, there are comprehensive maps outside, so off we went for a self-guided tour.

IT. IS. HAUNTING.

Never mind that it's allegedly the most "haunted" area in all the country (I can totally see that), but walking on the battlefields, listening to the stories with the audio app that we downloaded was nothing less than eerie. We looked up what the most haunted spots in the area were and naturally, WENT THERE. It was cold and windy, overcast and nearing evening, so it added to the mystique of the area, most especially at a rock formation called Devil's Den, where Confederate soldiers had hidden and held strong in a particularly bloody battle.




After our tour, as darkness fell and things got blisteringly cold, we threw on our jackets and headed to the downtown Gettysburg area for our scheduled creepy night tour with Gettysburg Ghost Tours. We aren't exactly into ghost hunting, or believe in "ghosts" per se (though demons strolling around is a different story) but this looked like too much fun to miss.

For the next two hours we walked through the darkened streets of Gettysburg with our tour guide, she appropriately dressed in colonial garb. There was an element of the creep factor, hearing stories of gory soldier deaths and the massive amount of dead bodies left to rot after the battle was over, along with ghost stories to go along with it; but the BEST part was all of the historical information we picked up. Absolutely fascinating to walk where history comes alive. We LOVED it. And nearly froze to death. But we DID Gettysburg in just a couple of hours and it was worth the trip!

After the tour ended, we were INSANE and drove back onto the battlefields, trying to catch a glimpse of something similar to THIS VIDEO THAT SCARED THE BEJESUS OUT OF US. I had a momentary freak out meltdown because I did NOT want to see anything, truth be told, but we didn't.

We DID however, pick up some real oddities in a couple of the pictures we took on the ghost tour. I'll save that for another post.

After a good scare, we stopped by the local Friendly's for a quick dinner and to warm up, and headed back to Baltimore, tired after a wonderful, activity-packed day.

Day Three:

We were heading back home that evening, so we didn't have A LOT of time. We chose to wear ourselves out by going to Gettysburg on day two so we could sleep in on day three and just head 15 down the road to the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Day three was beautiful and sunny, perfect for a leisurely walk along the harbor, where there are colonial ships and a WWII submarine to tour and no shortage of seafood restaurants. We weren't impressed with the small restaurant that we chose, so I'll leave out the link. We held hands, looked through shops, and enjoyed the last day in one of the best parts of this country. Later that day, a quick drive back to the airport and we were back on our five hour flight bound for Phoenix. We had managed to do the perfect amount of activities in those three days and recommend this game plan if you ever have long weekend to visit the nation's capitol!



We are already planning our next getaway, but will definitely be heading back to DC before long, to see more sights. I couldn't recommend it more for a fun and still romantic three day getaway. :)

XOXO,

Cyn