Friday, April 2, 2010

A Capital Weekend . . .

In spring, there is no better place to visit than Washington, D.C.  Warm air, blossoming flowers (including the famous cherry blossoms) and the numerous historic venues make it an ideal weekend destination; be warned, you will wish you had at least a week to visit all this city has to offer!

The Capital
But we only have a weekend, so let's cover a few a few a few a few a few locations.  First order of business, choosing accommodations.  My choice is The Ritz Carlton, Washington, D.C., located between Washington Circle and Dupont Circle.  With over 300 rooms, fine dining (including a bistro by world famous chef Eric Ripert) and the Sports Club/LA onsite, you could have an enjoyable weekend without ever leaving the hotel.  Rooms range from the ultra-posh Club Presidential Suite, to a more reasonable Deluxe Room, pictured below:

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C.

It is difficult to decide which monuments to visit first.  One could spend weeks in this city and not have a chance to view them all.  The National Park Service operates all the major sites in the D.C. area, with the most visited being the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capital.

The reflecting pool looking toward the Washington Monument
The Lincoln Memorial

All National Park Service monuments are free to the public, but the Washington Monument does require a reservation to visit the top, as does the U.S. Capital, which requires tours to be reserved in advance.  Tickets go quickly, and in the peak months of April through September tickets are often booked months in advance.

The Lincoln Memorial

Although it is a very easy city to walk, the Washington, D.C./Virginia area has a superb subway system - the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority.  Clean, efficient and convenient, it was one of the nicest subway systems I have ever encountered; even during peak commute times it was a pleasure to travel on.
Riding the WMATA

The good thing about traveling in D.C. - you don't have to feel guilty about your calorie consumption because of of all the walking involved!  Now it's time for dinner!  My choice:  The 1789 Restaurant in Georgetown.  It has been chosen by Gourmet Magazine as one of the top dining experiences in the Washington, D.C. area.  With choices that range from local East Coast seafoods, including Burgundy Snail Pot Pie that sounds interesting, and sumptuous desserts like Griddled Coconut Pound Cake, it seems like a choice that will not disappoint.

The Carroll Room at The 1789 Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Washingtonian.com

After some research, it seems that the nightlife is in the D.C. area is quite diverse - from local hangouts to sophisticated wine bars, there seems to be something for everyone.  Since it is sometimes difficult to distinguish neighborhoods (and there are some you would rather not visit), let's try a hotel comparison and visit the The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown for a nightcap at the Degrees Bar and Lounge.  Styled in the fashion of lounges of the 1940s, it has an impressive menu of specialty drinks and beers, including the "Starburst", a delicious sounding mix of Stoli raspberry vodka, Absolut Kurant, Chambord and pineapple juice.

It's Sunday morning and coffee is essential!  For a Starbuck's lover, Washington, D.C. is heaven, with over 50 locations to choose from!  After we have our caffeine, let's move on to one more destination in the D.C. area before we head home.

A short subway ride away is 
The National Zoo.  Located in Northwest Washington, D.C., the Zoo was founded in 1889 by an act of Congress "for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.”  It became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1890.  It currently features approximately 2,000 animals in its 163 acre location, which includes a panda habitat featuring Mei Xiang and Tian Tian the pandas.  Currently, Mei Xiang is expecting so she is currently not visible at the habitat.

The Panda Habitat at The National Zoo

Washington, D.C. is an interesting vacation destination at any time of the year, but especially in the early spring.  The world famous cherry blossoms are due to peak on April 4th, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival is currently underway until April 11th, or visit the Washington, D.C. tourism website to find the events this historic area has to offer.  It is a great place to come to reflect about the history of our great nation!

My youngest son, "reflecting" at the Reflecting Pool

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