Tourist Time in D.C.

We are in the home stretch for G’s stay here in the US, which means that we are packing in as many of her bucket list activities as possible. For Memorial Day weekend, we took advantage of her time off from school to drive down to Washington, DC.

Cute W and I are big fans of DC — we love all the free museums, and we have friends we like to visit there. This time we took advantage of biking around the city, and that was a vast improvement over previous trips. If you’ve visited, you know that all of those many monuments are spread out over a lot of hot concrete, making it feel like a bit of a death march. Meanwhile, the biking infrastructure is pretty good, with many protected lanes in the street or super-wide sidewalks that could accommodate us.

We used Capital Bikeshare, which was pretty easy. You put the app on your phone and it shows you where to find bikes and how many are available. Then when you choose a bike, you just scan the QR code to unlock your bike from the rack.

When you are finished with your ride, you just shove it back into the rack, check for the green light to confirm it’s secured, and move on with your day. You can put a purse or backpack in front of you, the bikes were 3-speed or a gradual gear shift, and there are e-bike options, too (much as we love e-bikes, we went the traditional route, which was cheaper and more comfortable for G).

We drove down on Thursday after Cute W’s work and arrived at the State Plaza Hotel. This hotel was new to us, and we really liked it. We had a room with two double beds, but it turned out that the room also included a kitchenette in a separate room, plus a little dressing room between the main room and the bathroom, each with their own door. So in spite of our very close quarters, all three of us could be in three separate rooms if/when we wanted a bit of privacy.

The next morning we’d reserved a timed entry for the National Air and Space Museum, where G wanted to make sure that in our American adulation of the Wright Brothers, we didn’t forget about Brazilian air pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont.

I also learned that Smoky the Bear was inspired by a bear cub saved from a forest fire (not to be confused with the Teddy Bear from Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting trip).

Despite the timed entry crowd control, it was pretty dang crowded in the museum.

Things were much more serene at the National Museum of the American Indian, where we went next specifically so that we could eat our lunch there. [And here’s where I have to say “What?!?!? SURELY I’ve written about eating at this museum!!” But I can’t find an old post. In fact the only Washington DC post I can find is really recent. This feels like a terrible lapse, because I always recommend eating at the National Museum of the American Indian!] The museum’s restaurant was closed for a while and has re-opened as the Mitsitam Cafe, and maybe there are slightly fewer choices than when we went before, but it’s still a fantastic option, especially if you want to stay on the Mall and not eat, like, a food truck hot dog. Why? Okay, first: the basic concept: imagine a mall food court, except instead of Sbarro, Cinnabon, and Jamba Juice, the various stations represent different regions of the Americas with foods created based on what the native peoples who lived there would eat. That’s already cool. But it’s also a less popular museum, so it’s less crowded and the service is excellent. So instead of eating at the Air & Space museum where it’s, like, chicken nuggets on a ketchup-smeared table, it’s really tasty and interesting food that you can eat while looking out the window at a serene water feature. Here’s the fry bread taco made with three sisters topping (corn, beans, & squash: you could also choose bison or, umm, I think it was turkey).

I know that this is kind of a terrible picture and it’s also my only picture, but that’s because we were all hungry and sharing stuff. So: sorry. But you can see a bunch of great pictures on Yelp.

Then we walked around the museum a bit, then biked around and checked out some monuments. More monuments than this, but I’m following the “no-face” procedure that I did with my kids for the blog. Also, this reminds me, a bunch of students clearly had the assignment to search for a specific name on the Vietnam wall, and it felt like a well-intentioned activity that turned into a bit too much of a treasure hunt, with kids exclaiming, exasperated, over there being way too many names to find their assigned name. Which, on the one hand, was the point, but on the other hand, they still weren’t quite getting it, but one the other hand, they’re just teenagers, but then again, so were a lot of people on the wall. Ugh. Anyway. Here are a select bunch of pictures.

It was clearly a local prom, and there were tons of youngsters in formal wear posing by the reflecting pool. By that time we were hot and sweaty and tired, so we took a little break at the hotel before heading out to dinner at Pisco y Nasca for some ceviche.

This Callejaro on the right was my favorite of the ceviches we tried, but they were both great. G is not a seafood gal, so she ordered the Arroz Con Pollo (top left), and then we ordered the Tostones Sampler (bottom left), which was all yummy and a nice break from the acidic ceviches (and my tangy cocktail). All tasty!

After eating, we walked past the White House on our way back to the hotel.

The next morning we went out to for an extremely yummy breakfast at — umm, I forget where it was, and I asked Cute W, but he’s been busy with work. If you are dying to know, comment or message me. It was cute, and I got a fantastic bacon & egg croissant with arugula and a morning side salad and Cute W and G got French toast that they reported was yummy, although I don’t believe them because I don’t like French toast.

Then we strolled around Georgetown, where I was a particularly huge fan of the Paper Source store; I wish we had one locally. I was a particularly loved their artsy papers, but I couldn’t bring myself to carry them around for the rest of our day of sightseeing.

Next, we were off the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, which was packed with people. They don’t have timed entry, but the crowds made us kind of with that they did. Still, it was fun. We knew that we weren’t going to do an exhaustive visit, so we picked a few must-see items and checked out the highlights.

Then on to a quick bike ride to Spice-6, a fast-casual, build-your-own restaurant. I had a delicious salad while Cute W and G each ordered a naan pizza. It was extremely tasty.

After lunch, we went to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where first, we ran into a Brazilian couple, so they had to get in a good chat with G. They visit the US every year and have probably seen more of it than we have.

Then we checked out some American history and culture. . . .

G asked, “Where’s Michael Jackson?” And at first I was stumped, but then I said that I bet he’d been moved over the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which we had a timed entry reserved for the next day.

We had pretty much exhausted ourselves, and we decided we were ready for a sweet treat, and then — I fell. There was a hole in the sidewalk, and I was watching a funny little old man bike by us, and I was very tired, and I just totally twisted my left ankle and skinned my right knee. So instead of biking for ice cream, Cute W summoned a Lyft and we headed back to the hotel. I iced my ankle a bit, and then we rallied and hobbled around the corner to Tonic, which had lovely tater tots, but in retrospect was not worth the trip for me. Overnight I was in fairly excruciating pain, and by morning, we decided to abort the trip and leave a day early. No service for G at the largest Catholic Church in North America, no timed entry to go visit Michael Jackson. Cute W drove all the way home and then hustled around the house unpacking and shopping and basically doing everything while I passed out on the sofa with my foot elevated and iced.

It seemed like the foot was gradually getting better, but now it’s been 12 days and I still can’t walk normally, so I got X-rays. No break, just a sprain, and they gave me an ankle brace.

It’s pretty, right? RIGHT?? Send me healing vibes, please, because we have more sights to see! Although I think that we’ve decided that we’re going to take it a little easier on our next weekend trip. Stay tuned.


  1. Claire

    I’m sorry that such a great trip had to end with an injury. I hope it resolves soon!

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