48 Hours in Washington, DC
Since moving from DC to Jersey five years ago, I’ve only been back to Washington one time, for a brief two hours before hopping a plane to Iceland. (Yes, we drove the three hours with our three kids stuck in the infamous DC gridlock instead of taking a local flight because my husband insisted it would save us soooo much money. Insert face palm emoji.) That’s why I decided the long Memorial Day weekend would be just the right time to head back for a family visit – plus it would be a special birthday trip experience for Rowan, who was born in Maryland just outside of the District, all because I wanted a guaranteed private maternity room after labor and delivery.
After this fun visit, I’m left amazed by the fact I just don’t make it out often enough for it being only a short drive. I mean, DC really has everything I tend to look for on my list. History? Check. Cosmopolitan vibes? Most definitely. Amazing food scene? Yes, please. Gorgeous architecture? Georgetown, full stop. When I lived there, I didn’t appreciate it enough being a busy working mom and a transplant from Chicago. And we only stayed 1.5 years there before moving on to Jersey, so it wasn’t enough time to really be immersed in a place.
As we approached the District, we made a pit stop in our old neighborhood in North Bethesda, MD. We moved when my second child was just 6 weeks old, and I wanted to take the kids on a trip down memory lane, including grabbing a bite (and requisite restroom stop) at our fave Italian market and then taking a walk around our old townhouse development, which has the prettiest landscaping of winding paths, gazebos, and lily and koi ponds. We ate cupcakes and fresh apricots from the market under the gazebo and then the kids zipped around the winding paths on their scooters. I still remember all the sleepy long walks while wearing newborn baby Rowan in a carrier. Here’s a funnier story – when he was two weeks old I took him to the pool but locked myself out of my apartment and had to scale the balcony to get back inside… I laid him down on the grass and he just looked up at me, peacefully cooing the whole time I did ninja calisthenics.
Later, we pulled into our rented SpotHero parking space in DC for the weekend (only $25 for 3 days!). We walked the few city blocks to our Airbnb in the historic Eckington neighborhood, just in time for dinner. Let’s set the scene, shall we? For any of you who have seen House of Cards, the opening credit sequence boasts Eckington’s personality: Colorful rowhouses in a palette of pink, gray, yellow, mint green, slate and blue. Canopies of old elms and tiny front yards line the family-friendly neighborhoods – Eckington really reminded me of our beloved Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago! We found the lockbox to our Airbnb which, after breezing through the slate gray front door, I was seriously struck by a few things. First, that red mid-century modern couch and shag rug in front of a glossy white enameled fireplace. And secondly, the exposed brick wall lined with framed quirky prints of recent presidents like Obama, perched on top of a lion and wielding a light saber. Simply put: this Airbnb was perfection and set the tone for our presidential themed weekend in the nation’s capital.
Despite the awesomeness of our home away from home, I had to cut short our stay by one day. Long story in a nutshell: a few flies occupied the master bedroom where little A was sleeping with us; it scared the bejesus out of him that first night, morphed into him believing there were also worms, snakes, and turtles (are turtles scary to kids lol?) in his pack n play and our bed. By day three in DC, after not getting one wink of sleep, I decided we needed to check out early and get him some sleep back at home.
So, with technically 48 hours in DC, are you ready to see all that we did?
🛴 Zip on scooters around the National Mall – it makes checking off all the main sites a breeze! Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial, and don’t forget to take a spin on the carousel.
🦖 Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
🍗 Eat BBQ at DCity Smokehouse.
🇺🇸 Take a free tour of the US Capitol Building – and explore the underground tunnels leading to the Library of Congress.
⚾️ Get a glimpse of vintage American baseball at the retro exhibit inside the Library of Congress.
🏛 Sit on the steps of the US Supreme Court and reflect on hundreds of years of life-changing history that was made just inside.
🥗 Eat some greens at Sweetgreen (fun fact: the salad chain worth $1 billion began here in DC!).
🏡 Visit charming, arts-centric Bethesda, Maryland – it’s just a Metro ride away on the Red Line!
If we had had more time in DC, I would have hopped over to Georgetown for a little sightseeing and some Pizza Paradiso (my very first slice in the District when we moved here 7 years ago!), or a comforting home-style meal at Founding Farmers, where my sisters hosted my baby sprinkle for no. 2.
We really lucked out with renting this gorgeous original rowhome, only a 15 minute walk to the nearest Metro. For me, the living space is as important as the things you do while on a vacation. And this Airbnb was expertly renovated into a literal mid-century masterpiece, bridging the line between historical reverence and modern luxury. Stylish presidential touches filled the entire place, from vintage history books to a copper plated John F. Kennedy medallion coffee table centerpiece, making this the perfect way to spend a presidential weekend in Washington. And as a mid-century design enthusiast, let it suffice to say: this is my kind of home, with the master bathtub and retro hexagonal tile wall being the cherry on top for me. Ready to move in, honey?
Planning a family trip to Washington, DC?
Would love to hear if you do or visit any of these recommendations, or stay here. Enjoy your time in the nation’s capital!