Like many Americans I had “passed through” D.C. on my way to where I was going. For some reason, I had only been through the area for business, or on a layover, but never to just explore. I’d never even had the traditional field trip most middle and high schoolers have. It’s been on my bucket list for some time now, and David and I really wanted to make it during cherry blossom week. So when lighting struck and we had the chance to go at the perfect time, we jumped in with both feet for a quick trip. Here’s our top picks for where to eat, drink, and play when you have 24 hours to visit D.C.
Enjoy comfort, style, and luxury in the middle of everywhere you’ll wanna be at The Melrose Georgetown Hotel. Just down the road from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s a quick walk, bike, or Uber from all the action. I’d been interested in staying at the Melrose for some time. Its sister property, here in my hometown is One Ocean Resort & Spa, and I’ve been a friend and fan for years. I knew I was in for a treat at the Melrose and it lived up to my expectations completely. As I mentioned, the location was absolutely ideal, and the luxurious surroundings had us feeling completely spoiled. Our suite included it’s own living space and office area which was a welcome retreat after a fun day walking the city.
Tip: The hotel is as fashionable as it’s guests and features a chic lobby bar, and plenty of photogenic nooks for all your Instagram worthy outfits of the day.
One of the best ways to get around D.C.’s attractions is by bike. For as little as $8 a day you can cycle around the Capitol and see all the sites in a fraction of the time you’d spend walking. There are a handful of different companies that rent bikes. Some have docking stations and some are dock-less, you’ll find them lying around the city in random places. All of them have apps you can quickly download and set up for easy access around the city. You can also find scooters, and segways for more alternative options. We chose Capital Bikeshare and it was a great value. The bikes are pretty heavy duty so they hold up well.
Tip: It was a little tricky at the end of the day when the dock closest to our hotel was full. We had to reroute and find a different dock with space and then walk to the hotel from there. If you aren’t willing to risk a full dock, then the dock-less bikes may be more convenient for you.
If you happen to travel during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, head out for the opening of the Cherry Blossom parade on Saturday. We road our bikes up to the start of the parade and wedged our way into the crowd around 10am. After the kickoff passed us we spun down to the Mall for behind the scenes access at the source of the parade. The majority of the crowd was hanging out on the main path of the parade so we had no problems navigating our way around the floats and making our way up Capitol Hill for more site seeing.
Tip: The source of the parade is a great spot to bring your kids to see all the floats in one spot.
While the crowd attends the parade, take this time to spin around Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, and pop into a few museums. There are less crowds at this time so it’s easier to access these highly trafficked sites and grab some great photos. If you aren’t traveling during the Cherry Blossom Festival I suggest making an early morning of it and rising with the sun to get ahead of the crowds, especially if your trip is over a weekend.
Bonus: All Smithsonian Museums offer free admission. Spend an afternoon taking in your favorite or pop in and out of a few for the highlights.
Catch the finale’ of the parade at noon in front of the National Archives Building, then pop in for a peek at America’s Founding Documents, the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. This experience was extremely humbling. To witness these world changing documents was moving. There is something about seeing something with your own eyes that makes it so much more real.
Tip: Absolutely no photography is aloud in the National Archives building.
After all that physical activity and site seeing you’ll have worked up a healthy appetite. Brunch it up at Founding Farmers or The Partisan, two of my favorite hip D.C. restaurants. You’ll find hearty farm to table portions served up with style and finesse in addition to craft cocktails that are sure to impress.
Tip: Instead of entrees, we opted to enjoy multiple starters at Founding Farmers. It was a great way to get a feel for the menu and taste more options.
Experience the warmth and atmosphere of the Tidal Basin at the golden hour. Surrounded by National Monuments and Memorials it’s a magical window to take in the best of D.C. When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom this area turns into a scene out of a fairy tale. It’s a can’t miss experience to put on your bucket list.
Tip: No one knows exactly when the cherry blossoms will bloom. The weather has everything to do with the exact timing. You can google it to see when the best predictions are, but the best way to guarantee is to watch the forecast on the blossoms and schedule your trip last minute.
While you are in the area, grab a treat from a local food truck and visit the nearby Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and War Memorials. Don’t forget to visit the White House too! You’ll be surprised how much ground you can cover in a few hours as you visit iconic sites you’ve read about and seen on TV.
Tip: Make sure to wear sensible walking shoes. Otherwise you’ll pay for it later.
End the day with drinks and fine dining at The Melrose Georgetown’s farm to table concept Jardenea, open to guests and locals alike. Serving up seasonal ingredients at the peek of their harvest, every dish we tasted was bursting with flavor and well balanced. Portions were generous and the service was attentive. We can’t wait to return.
Tip: All the courses were equally show-stopping, but make sure you get crab cakes to start! You can thank me later:)
You could spend weeks taking in all D.C. has to offer, but if all you have is 24 hours, this is the way to do it! This was the perfect “taste” of D.C. , and we can’t wait to return and discover more of our national treasure.
Until next time….
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West