The Ink Stained Pearl vs D.C. in a Day
Washington DC: The American Experience. That has been DC’s slogan for quite some time, and perhaps it’s true. Walking around this metropolis certainly leaves one impression on you: electrifying. DC is nothing short of an action packed town: the attractions, the food, the museums, there is simply no end. The streets are littered with important looking businessmen and even more important looking coffee shops. You could happily wander the streets for months and never run out of new corners to investigate. But what if you don’t have months? What if you have limited time and inclement weather? That is exactly the situation we found ourselves in. If you find yourself in a similar spot, check out some tips on how to make the most of the time you have!
I’ve got a Five Page Itinerary! As with any major city with lots to see, it’s just impossible to see it all in one day. Believe me, I tried. I protested this notion, threw a child size tantrum, and was put in a time out by my fellow travelers. The fact is, DC is bustling and there’s a lot to factor in: if you are driving, you are apt to get stuck in congestion. If you are walking, the distance between the monuments is slightly longer than you plan for. If you stop in a museum, you end up staying for hours longer than anticipated because they are just that interesting. In this Pearl’s opinion, do your research. Find three to five things you just HAVE to see, and go with that. A framework is good. It will help you get around the city and see what you want. But the fun part about traveling is happening upon things you never planned on, and exploring that to your heart’s content. If you talk to any local they will most likely mention one giant caveat to your plans: The traffic.
Midnight Monuments. DC mornings are legendary for their traffic. Want to see as much as you can without pushing past people and dodging cars? Hit up the monuments at night! If the weather is cooperating, there are several walking routes to stroll along and enjoy the view. But if you happen to have a vehicle (or an obliging friendly local to take you around) this Pearl recommends driving to each. It cuts your time down to a manageable experience, there’s no road traffic and you get the perk of doing what we did: rush the monuments like children, take pictures, and then speed away! There’s a special magic to the city at night. It’s eerily empty and running up the steps of the Jefferson Memorial with reckless abandon at 1 in the morning is quite dreamlike. It’s that giddy, can’t stop laughing, live your life with reckless abandon type stuff.
Coffee Shops. Inclement weather keeping you indoors? Don’t despair! The sights of DC are more than just the monuments: it’s also the people. And there is no shortage of coffee shops in which to sit and watch the passerby’s. Baked and Wired, Filter, La Colombe, Pergrine Espresso, Tryst: The list of fabulous, top rated coffee houses are endless. One that consistently reigns supreme is Dolcezza. Their goal when they opened their first shop in 2004 was to create something with their own hands they could be proud of. Now ten years and over seven locations later they have succeeded. Their Gelato is famously delicious and their coffee is wonderfully understated. We visited their location on Palmer Ave. The vibe was not at all pretentious, just very mellow with an emphasis on quality. If you go to this location, make sure to park on G Street, where you can hit the next rainy day spot on your list: Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
Museums. Let’s talk a little about the Museum of American Art. In short, it’s amazing. If you are any kind of art lover, this is worth seeing. There is something for everyone, spanning from civil war paintings, to statues of the Greek gods, to a giant ceiling-high neon cutout of America. You could spend your entire trip just meandering through this museum. And the best part is all the museums in DC are free! So if this doesn’t sound like your thing, you can always try one of the other amazing museums: the National Air and Space Museum, The Museum of American or Natural History, The Holocaust, or the Newseum just to name a few! Check out the DCists website for a great comprehensive list of the best coffee shops and best museums in the area.
Pearl Point: If you can plan your trip for late March/ early April, you can see the legendary Cherry Blossoms in full bloom. Unfortunately, we missed it by a couple weeks (queue yet another Pearl tantrum) but they are gorgeous and accompanied by a Festival! Check out the festival website for what they call “Bloom Watch.”
Whatever you see, DC is sure to be a fun experience. Even in the rain, it’s a city filled with charm and character. Enjoy!