Highlights from 20 Hours in Washington, D.C.
During our recent short getaway to Virginia, Jave and I decided to squeeze in a night in Washington, D.C. While planning our trip, we knew that we’d be pressed for time (as usual), but we decided that the 200-mile drive from Hampton Roads to D.C. would be totally worth it since Jave has never been. I had been to D.C. a few times before – once as a child and again for President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. Still, I wanted to visit Washington DC to see some sites that I either missed out on or didn’t recall seeing the first few times around.
Here’s an overview of how we spent our short, twenty hours in our nation’s capital…
Late Dinner at Nando’s
En route to D.C., we stopped for a late afternoon tour of colonial Williamsburg, VA. As a result, we didn’t make it to D.C. until close to 7p.m., and despite an otherwise traffic-free drive, we were immediately greeted with a traffic jam upon exiting the freeway in D.C. Our busy itinerary, the snail-paced traffic, and our growling bellies quickly started to wear on our nerves. We needed to eat, and fast! So finding a good restaurant was our first line of business upon arrival to the city.
Adhis, better known as Chef Afrik, first hipped me to Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken, an eatery serving a blend of African and Portuguese (Mozambican?) cuisine that centers around the African Bird’s Eye Chili, also known as Peri-Peri. At Nando’s fresh chickens are marinated for 24 hours, trimmed of all their fat, and then consistently basted with the restaurant’s own Peri-Peri sauce while being grilled on an open flame. You can then top your chicken with extra sauce – we chose the hot sauce. The sauce was so good that our lips were still pleasantly burning long after eating. We rounded out our meal with fresh corn, a salad, and Portuguese rice. You can also order desserts, wine, and sangria, but the draw is definitely the chicken. Let me tell you, Nando’s chicken is a revelation, and if I lived in D.C., I’m sure that I’d find myself eating there at least once a week.
Visit Nando’s website for more details on the restaurant’s locations and to take a look at the menu.
Let Them Eat Cupcakes!
After dinner, although we were tired, I really wanted to go check out Georgetown. My first taste of Georgetown was back in 2009 when I was in town for the inauguration, and it struck me as such a charming, vibrant historic neighborhood full of bars, restaurants, and boutiques. And of course it’s home to Georgetown University.
While I really wanted to park our rental and take a leisurely stroll around, Jave was exhausted and wasn’t really up for it. Instead, I convinced him to at least let me run into Georgetown Cupcakes to satiate my sweet tooth. At $2.75 a pop, I decided not to go overboard and settled for two – a chocolate birthday and a red velvet. They were so light and moist, and the icing was perfectly sweet. My only regret is that I didn’t get two more!
Call It an Early Night
Since Jave was so tired, I gave up on our plans to visit the U Street Corridor, and instead, we headed to Wardman Park to check into our hotel – Marriott Wardman Park. I discovered just how pricey D.C. hotels are while planning this trip as we couldn’t seem to find a hotel that matched our comfort level for less than $200 per night. I decided to take our chances with Priceline’s tool that allows customers to name their own price. The nightly price we chose – $135 for a 3.5-star hotel in DuPont Circle.
We lucked up when we were awarded this particular Marriott. Although we had a rental car, it’s close to public transportation, it’s about a 15-minute drive from the National Mall and most popular monuments, and the customer service is stellar. For no particular reason, we were upgraded to a suite at no additional cost, and it did not disappoint. The only downside is the cost of overnight parking which is $36. But this cost is typical of most overnight parking lots and garages in D.C.
Moments at the Monuments
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and skipped breakfast in an effort to knock out some sightseeing since we knew that we’d have to start heading to the airport no later than 2:30pm. With the government shutdown recently over, we wanted to take full advantage of seeing some of D.C.’s monuments and memorials. Originally, we’d planned on taking public transportation, but since we were so pushed for time, Jave made the wise call to drive our rental which allowed us to move around much more quickly.
While I was concerned that finding parking would be a problem, with the exception of trying to find someplace to park near the White House, parking hassles were a non-issue. Unfortunately, we were only able to get a glimpse of the White House from a distance since all of the surrounding roads were blocked off by the Secret Service. But fortunately, we were able to visit every other monument and site that we planned on seeing in D.C.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Supreme Court
Our memorial hunt left us famished and the clock was steadily ticking. The original plan was to go get a bite to eat in the hipster Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C. And just when we were about five miles away, we ran into heavy traffic congestion that only allowed us to inch forward a few blocks within a 45-minute span – no exaggeration! So we gave up on our Adams Morgan plan, consulted Yelp, and headed back to Georgetown for lunch at Luke’s Lobster.
Despite the positive Yelp reviews, we were a bit disappointed with our meal. We each ordered cups of New England Clam Chowder which was delicious, but my lobster roll and Jave’s crab roll were amiss. Not only were our sandwiches teeny tiny, but we found ourselves drenching them in Sriracha sauce since they were lacking flavor. We should’ve just stuck with our soup. Plus, the entire meal was over $50 which would’ve been justifiable if the food had been excellent and the service had been somewhat friendlier. Nevertheless it filled us up in time for our flight back to L.A.
Our trip to D.C. was definitely a whirlwind, but I’m glad that we were able to see and do most of the things we’d planned on while there. And I definitely foresee more trips back to D.C. in our future travels.