How to Take a DC Daytrip: Pandemic Edition
If you follow the AFF blog, which you really should, (there are so many wonderful nuggets from great journalists, philanthropists, and mover/shakers besides just me) you’ll have noticed that I wrote about how to plan an amazing day trip for you and your squad.
I made several claims to my greatness at planning such a day of awesome sightseeing and eating, but I didn’t provide you with anything to back up my claims. So as to rectify that wrong, here is my gift to you!
I give you: Lydia’s Magical DC Day-Trips (options 1-3) Quarantimes edition! (Links included where applicable for COVID-19 updates and for reservations where needed).
There’s something for the family with younger kiddos, a romantic and relaxing day for the lovebirds, and an active and exciting day for the squad.
For the family:
Picnic at the Arboretum for the morning – the kids can run around and play, get a valuable history lesson, and learn a bit about nature. This is also a cost effective option, as you can pack a lunch and bring fun toys and games from home! Info can be found here on how to enter and rules for being there (FYI, it’s only open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
As a Saturday/Sunday option, skip the Arboretum and head to National Mall before the heat sets in. Bring a ball to toss around, some bubbles, or even a kite for the kids so they can play while looking at our amazing monuments, and of course try to share with them a little bit about why they matter!
Then as the dreaded DC humidity becomes unbearable for your little whippersnappers, grab a bite. To save money I recommend the food trucks, plus you can grab a few different items and share (plus plus food truck fare is basically elevated kids meal food anyways!). These are some favorites: Swizzler (hot dogs), and CapMac are great kid friendly options (also the dozen or so ice cream trucks — can’t go wrong with ice cream), but of course if you see the Chick-fil-A truck, you thank Jesus and grab that!
If the kids can last this long, you can stick around for a nice meal and one last additional activity or just call it quits!
Stay in the heart of DC with some scrumptious dining at the famous Old Ebbitt Grill tavern established in 1856. You’ll get to enjoy some curated cocktails while the kiddos find a satisfactory kids menu and a dessert list that will have them on extra good behavior! Round out the adventure with a DC haunted tour Horror on the Hill.
Note: if it rains, start with the museum of the Bible and then if it continues you can head to the spy museum. Sometimes storms also move quickly in DC, so you can swap your morning for the evening, minus the tour. Although, by that time it may have cleared anyway!
For the couple:
Start by heading up to the Hillwood Estate for a morning stroll through idyllic gardens and then a tour of the historic house. The Hillwood Estate is the previous home of DC business woman, socialite, and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post and includes collections featuring the Fabergé eggs, 19th century French art, and an amazing collection of orchids (Make sure to grab a reservation and look at their rules for corona).
Once you’re done, head down to U Street for an iconic lunch with cocktails at The Smith (patio and in house seating available). If it doesn’t suit your fancy, there are a ton of other amazing places to eat all around, plus the street itself is a hub of activity for DC, so be sure to soak it in.
If you are feeling very energetic, pop back up to Meridian Hill Park. It’s got famous views that couples frequent for engagement or wedding picture backdrops.
After lunch head down to City Center to see the hanging art on Palmer St. Grab a decadent cookie, cereal milk shake, or slice of crack pie (now called: Milk Bar Pie) at Milk Bar, preferably one you two lovebirds can share! You could also hit the Logan Circle Milk Bar if you prefer, but you’ll be heading in the same direction nonetheless.
Check out the White House area on foot as you head past (or share a scooter- it’s super fun with so few people out and about). Then pop into the newly opened Sculpture Garden for a romantic stroll.
As a grand finale and for an intimate setting with cocktails that you won’t ever find anywhere else — the Columbia Room. This requires a little of the dreaded backtracking, but I promise it’s worth it! Reservations are required and, as of now, the patio is the only thing open, but again they will update the page and begin seating folks in limited capacities indoors soon. I found the Reading Room or Library very romantic!
Finally, if you’re just having the most amazing night and not wanting it to end, head back down towards the Mall and stroll around. Avoid the Jefferson Memorial as it’s blocked due to construction, but good ole’ Abe is happy to oblige you if you’d like to sit under the stars and talk or not talk…
For the group of friends:
I’d head straight to Eastern Market for some brunch at good old Ted’s Bulletin (homemade pop tarts and shakes are their specialty) or Belga Café (seriously best waffles ever) and then do some nosing about the market.
Start making your way west, over to the Wharf area following M St. You can pop into Yard’s Park, snap some pictures of the stadium (RIP America’s Pastime), and maybe even grab a cocktail refresher at The Salt Line.
Then when the heat gets too hot, head over to ARTECHHOUSE for some interesting and interactive instagramable art. Book your tickets ahead of time, as walk-ins are no longer a thing. Right now the exhibit is Hanami — or the Japanese tradition of blossom viewing — which makes these the only blossoms most people will get to see this year, as the dread Rona hit right as our beautiful trees around the tidal basin were starting to pop. Usually they have VR cocktails to pair with the exhibit, I couldn’t find info on if that’s still true, but if it is, I highly recommend!
To work up your appetite for dinner head down to the Wharf Boathouse to rent a paddle boat or kayaks for the squad. Afterwards, pick a place to eat and enjoy a nice cocktail by the water at any of the places listed here (I personally recommend Tiki TNT or Cantina Bambina — resys required).
I hope these give you an amazing day in my city (and AFF’s HQ) with your chosen adventure buddies! Remember to have a designated “mom” for the trip and that snacks are never a question, they are a must have.