We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving a little less than six hours east of Charleston, West Virginia, brings you to the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. With a vibrant food and culture scene, boatloads of historical attractions, and world-class shopping, a weekend getaway to Washington, DC will cure what’s ailing you. Take your time exploring the city and soak up the sights as you tread the grounds on which many famous landmarks and the three branches of the federal government calls home.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN DC
Washington, DC, is home to the most magnificent memorials and monuments in the world. There are two ways to see them: on foot or by bus. The downtown area has been redesigned to connect the monuments and memorials on a path system, making walking through the city much more accessible. Here is where you’ll find significant DC attractions such as the Jefferson, Korean, Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Tidal Basin, and White House.
Another popular way to see DC is by Big Bus (hop-on/hop-off). There are three loops to choose from that take you to 30+ different locations. You can hop on, hop off as often as you like, and stay at each stop as long as you want. Some stops on the tour are the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Museums (Natural History, Air & Space, and African Art), and International Spy Museum. Ride the red loop for 20 stops that mostly include landmarks and iconic attractions.
You don’t have to love historical monuments to enjoy DC. How about taking a water taxi to or from National Harbor (MD) to Georgetown or Old Town Alexandria? The ride over the Potomac River affords you a different view of the city and is
convenient for beating the Washington DC traffic. Do some shopping at award-winning independently owned Politics and Prose Bookstore before boarding your boat at District Wharf. Pick up a coffee and decadent donut from District Donut for the ride. You can also kayak and paddleboard from this location and do a Hornblower sightseeing cruise.
In Georgetown, DC’s oldest neighborhood with charming cobblestone streets, designer shops, and “political watering holes,” be sure to venture to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park for a gorgeous stroll.
Shoppers will delight in the incredible shops at Tyson’s Galleria and Corner malls in McLean, Virginia, or Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, both around 20 minutes from downtown DC.
Seasonal events in DC include seeing the blossoming Yoshino and Kwanzan Cherry trees, a sure sign of spring, or attending a sporting event at one professional sports team such as Redskins football, Nationals baseball, or Capitals hockey.
Families will love visiting the National Zoo, home to giant pandas, sloths, tigers, oryx, a Komodo dragon, lemurs, and much more. The zoo also has a tide pool, carousel, playground, and train.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Per TripAdvisor, there are 2758 restaurants to choose from in Washington, DC, so you’ll find whatever food you are craving here. Founding Fathers is an excellent place for any meal. During breakfast, sink your teeth into Peanut Butter Banana Toast or a variety of Eggs Benedicts. For lunch, eat healthy with the Purple & Black Kale Salad, or splurge on the 7 Cheese Macaroni.
Martin’s Tavern is the oldest family-owned restaurant in DC. Located in Georgetown, Martin’s is where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie O, and they make a mean Hot Brown and Brunswick Stew, too.
Get your upscale Asian fix at Nooshi, with everything from spring rolls to tofu fries, Korean beef buns to noodle bowls, and of course, sushi. Central is excellent for fine dining with decadent dishes, such as Short Rib Bourguignon and Wild Mushroom & Kale Stroganoff. Central’s Bacon Onion Tart is a savory starter. Old Ebbitt Grill is an iconic eatery (and oldest saloon in DC) where you can enjoy a fantastic meal and possibly brush elbows with those from Capitol Hill, as it is a hot spot for senators and members of congress.
Enjoy Sunday brunch at Green Pig Bistro in Arlington. Green Pig doesn’t disappoint with the tasty Shrimp and Grits or Fried Chicken Waffle with sausage gravy and onion jam.
WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON DC
To pamper yourself entirely on this weekend getaway, stay in a luxury room at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City with the concierge level add-on (which comes with five food presentations each day), and visit the indulgent spa for your favorite treatments. The hotel is on the Metro line, DC’s subway system, that works by SmarTrip card. This will also allow you to take advantage of public transportation and keep your vehicle parked.
There are also a large number of hotels on M Street in the heart of downtown. Chain hotels are the Westin, AC Hotel by Marriott, Sofitel, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and practically any hotel brand you can think of.
DC: A DESTINATION WITH UNPARALLELED HISTORY
Whether you choose to soak up all that Washington DC has to offer in terms of history, culture, outdoor attractions, and art, or spend your time shopping at some of the world’s top boutiques, eating the most delicious food, and pampering yourself, DC allows all that and more.