Earlier this month I flew out to Washington D.C. to visit a good friend of mine. Having had siblings attend school there as well as taking a few trips growing up, I’ve visited the area quite a few times. I’ve seen most of your typical first time D.C. visitor sites including the monuments on the mall, the White House, the Smithsonian’s many museums and the Holocaust Museum. I wasn’t sure if we’d have much more to explore, but luckily, Erin was a good sport and played the perfect tour guide and host. I was not disappointed!

Our itinerary for the weekend would work for first or 5th time visitors. There’s much more to the city and its surrounding areas than you’d think.

Thursday:

Arrive in the evening, settle in and relax over a dinner of beer, burgers and good company.

Friday:

We took our time waking up and getting going, and made for our first stop of the day around 10:30 or 11.

First day in Washington, D.C. on Flee Fly Flown

A visit to Mount Vernon was a long overdue tourist and historical attraction that I couldn’t remember visiting as a kid. We made the 30 minute drive out of D.C. with no traffic. We did encounter the end of some school groups and the beginning of family travelers, so my tip here, to see the main house, would be to arrive a bit earlier. The line can get long, we waited about 30 minutes.

Despite a small crowd, the visit was well worth it. The history and innovation here is so interesting to encounter. Plus, the house itself is beautiful. Vivid greens and blues cover the walls and fine china decorates the tables. Plus, it was a bit apropos since I was born on George Washington’s birthday.

We made the trip back into the city before rush hour really hit and stopped for a bit in Georgetown to grab an afternoon snack and walk around*. This is a great area for shopping and great architecture. I love the age of the city! You’ve got long established restaurants neighboring old buildings with new boutiques. The mix of old and new is nice to encounter.

After a stop at home to freshen up and grab a quick glass of water, Erin and I dashed off to Lafayette Park to meet our tour guide from Washington Walks, to start our 7:30 p.m. Most Haunted Houses Tour. The tour mostly took us around Lafayette Square where we heard stories of murders, love affairs and duals to the death. While I can be a pretty big wimp, I survived the freaky coincidences and tales of ghosts showing up at windows. For some reason, these stories intrigue me more than scare me. The walk was well worth the money (we used a Groupon coupon, but the normal price is around $15.00).

After the tour, we walked over to 14th Street NW to have a bottle of wine and some evening tapas at Masa 14. The pork belly buns were delicious!

Saturday:

Saturday morning, we hung out at the apartment for a bit to watch the first World Cup match of the day and eat breakfast with Erin and her boyfriend, Max, plus some of their  buddies.

Around 11, Erin, our college buddy, Leah, and I headed out to the town of Annapolis. Just about a 45 minute drive from Washington, D.C., I absolutely fell in love with Annapolis. It reminded me of a more historic version of some of the small fishing towns around my hometown. They even had a Kilwin’s Chocolate Shop which originated in Petoskey, MI! We made a b-line for ice cream there, upon arrival.

Day 2 in Washington D.C. on Flee Fly Flown

The little downtown area of Annapolis is so quaint. A lot of great shops and restaurants line the downhill walk, at the end of which you’re greeted by the marina where a good amount of motor and sail boats are docked. After some time hanging out by the water, we made our way to the United States Naval Academy to have a look around. What a beautiful campus! There was a definite French influence in the architecture combined with a heavy dose of colonialism. We stumbled upon the old gym on campus which had beautiful arched windows and a large-scale model sailing vessel.

My favorite overheard quote from a kid traveling with his family, “Dad, we’re not visitors, we’re tourists” upon hearing me share with the family that visitors could go in the dorms at the Naval Academy.

After a few hours of walking around and gawking at how charming Maryland’s capital was, we headed for a Maryland Crab Boil dinner at Cantler’s Riverside Inn. Tucked at the end of a winding neighborhood road, this place fills up in no time. We arrived at 4:30 just in time to beat the rush. But don’t worry, in the event that you do have to wait, they’ve got a bar in the parking lot. Drink a cold beverage while you wait! The crab, jumbo shrimp and onion rings were amazing. We all left, happy as a clam.

That evening, we took it pretty easy after a long, sticky day of touring around.

Sunday:

The Eastern Market, Washington D.C. on Flee Fly FlownWe rounded off my visit with a post breakfast stop at the Eastern Market, a great place to grab produce, meat, art, antiques and more random curios. After we’d had our fill of vintage purses, oversized hats, fun jewelry and fresh fruit, Erin and I headed for a cool down at the National Portrait Gallery. We wandered around the various exhibits, making time for the portraits of our Nation’s presidents and the annual portrait competition submissions. Well worth a stop, plus the museums are mostly free!

Day 3 in Washington D.C. on Flee Fly Flown

And sadly by then it was time to be on my early evening flight back to the Midwest. I’m still dreaming of those delicious Maryland crabs. Hopefully, a few of our activities will inspire your next trip to the D.C. area. I can’t wait to go back and explore even more.

Thanks again to Erin and Max for hosting me!

Happy trails,

- Colleen

*Erin thought I should add our little side adventure. We were so famished that we failed to notice we had parked in a tow zone for rush hour. When we arrived back at the car, it was nowhere to be found. As Erin called the number on the tow zone sign she crossed her fingers and said, “please let it be a courtesy tow!” Curiosity got the better of me and so I had to ask what that meant.

Occasionally, your car will simply get moved around the block and not all the way to the impound. You still receive a ticket but that’s far better than having to go get your car. You just call in and they tell you where they have moved it. Luck was on our side that day and we received a courtesy tow! Hooray! I was so surprised something like this existed.