For a little end of the summer “celebration,” we took the boys on a trip to Washington DC. Each summer, we’ve tried to find a new-to-us place to go as a family, just the 4 of us and this was our spot for this year.
Back in the spring, I randomly saw that there was a new dinosaur exhibit opening at the Smithsonian in DC. Given Jackson’s major dinosaur obsession, I mentioned this to Clint and we agreed that it was the perfect excuse to make a summer trip. Both Clint and I had been to DC separately about 12 years ago, so this trip back required a good amount of research and asking for recommendations. Now that we’re back home and settled, I’m excited to share it all with you!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown for our trip. Clint did a little research on areas to stay in, and Georgetown seemed to have a lot of the charm we loved about Yorkville in Toronto last year (see more on that trip here), so we went with it. Our go-to hotels are usually the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. So, I get that this sounds fairly yuppie of us, but there are good reasons (for us) why we like them. We always know that we can expect great food, great service and a great location. The Ritz Carlton works well with our Mariott status too, so
The Ritz Carlton Georgetown was an amazing choice for us on this trip. It’s in an old factory building so the architecture is incredibly cool and we loved the slightly modern vibe paired with a cozy setting. We did a Premier Room with two beds and we were perfectly comfortable and had lots of good space for the boys to hang out, take naps (while we hung out in the giant bathroom!) and for us to eat breakfast in the room when we needed to.
We just love the service and little touches at the Ritz Carlton and Georgetown was no different. When we checked in, they brought out a red wagon for the boys to pick a new toy and then escorted them over to the candy bar. We made SO many visits to the candy bar during our trip and the boys would grab a “walking lollipop” or a “snack” for every car ride – it was like built-in bribery and we loved it. Every morning there was coffee and newspapers set up near the candy bar, that changed to iced tea (the best citrus tea ever – I wish I knew what it was!) and cookies in the afternoon and a s’mores themed treat every day at 5:30. On the weekend days we were there, they also put out a summer-themed dessert bar and we tried several things there too!
Where We Ate
Food is always a huge part of any trip for us, so we did a good amount of research to find some restaurants that would have good food, but also kid-friendly options. With the boys, we usually go to dinner no later than 6:00 and I always bring activities with me. When all else fails, or we want to just have a nice dinner that we can enjoy without whining, we’ll give them our phones and some YouTube. They actually did great at all of these places, so that was a win!
Ted’s Bulletin // We went here for breakfast before we went to the Zoo on my friend Ashlee’s recommendation. It’s like an upscale diner and their food was amazing. I got a fancy avocado toast and both boys got giant pancakes that had “faces” on them in fruit. They also had homemade pop tarts and we just had to try those! Not only was the food good
Il Canale // We met family friends for dinner at this sweet little restaurant in Georgetown and it was a delicious choice! They had great pizzas and pastas (my favorite was Penne Al Salmone) and were super accommodating to the boys, as well. There were some cute outdoor tables that would be perfect for date night too.
America Eats Tavern // This was one we stumbled across when we were looking for a spot to sit outside one evening. They had an upstairs patio/bar that we went to around 5:00 (since kids are not exactly the best bar-goers) and we found a great table sort of off to the side. The food here was AMAZING. We got the skillet cornbread with smoked butter (ah!), popcorn cauliflower (even the kids loved it!) and I got their grilled sausage meal with an herb sauce. Literally everything we got was delicious and it was one of my favorite food spots on the trip!
Farmers Fishers Bakers // We had this restaurant recommended to us by several people and chose to walk to it on our last night of the trip. This was down by the waterfront and the whole complex was hopping! There were boats coming in, people walking around to different restaurants and it was just fun to be in such an action-packed place. The food here was also great. We loved their sushi and whirley pop kettle corn for appetizers and they had lots of great options for the boys, as well.
Pinstripes // We started our trip here on Wednesday night and it was a great idea! After a day of traveling, it’s hard to get the boys to sit down for dinner, so we thought that going bowling would be a great solution. This place was walkable from the hotel and had great pizza! We booked a lane for an hour with the boys and had so much fun.
District Doughnut // This was one of those places I was excited to find and check out. I love little specialty places for things and this was a good one. I assumed it would be one of those “certain flavors sell out” places, so we got there right when it opened. The day we went, they were just setting everything out, so we tried everything we wanted! The boys got funfetti doughnuts and Clint and I tried S’mores (very good), Brown Butter (very good) and Everything Cream Cheese (oddly good). This would be a great place to grab doughnuts to take with you to sit by the water or something for a little picnic.
Baked & Wired // Baked & Wired totally beat Georgetown Cupcakes when it came to recommendations, so we had to give it a try – 100% worth it! There was a little line when we went (early evening), so I’d guess that it’s best to go early but they still had everything we wanted! We tried carrot cake, Texas sheet cake, vanilla vanilla and Uniporn (which was an interesting one to order in front of the child who loves to correct you). These were SO good and worth the visit!
What We Did
We really tried to cram a lot of activity into a short trip but there are so many things to do with kids in DC!
White House Tour // This was a really neat experience that we were so lucky to have! Friends of our family set up an East Wing White House Tour for us. Even going through the process of security was interesting! We got to walk around and see rooms including the Blue Room, State Dining Room and the East Room. The details of everything were so historical and interesting. There were Secret Service personnel throughout the tour who would answer questions and they were so nice (and tolerant of Dylan’s lack of listening and love of touching ALL ropes that he couldn’t cross).
Air & Space Museum // We knew this museum would be a hit with the boys and was actually one that Clint and I said we’d like to do on our own so we could spend more time reading and learning more. Part of the museum was closed for construction, but we were able to see things like the Moon Lander, Neil Armstrong’s space suit, the Wright Brothers’ original first plane and a plane flown by Amelia Earhart. The boys also sat and watched a little kid-friendly presentation about astronauts, which was fun. And
We ate lunch here (thanks to the recommendation from my friend, Susan) and there is a really neat cafeteria! It’s all windows and when we were there it was a gorgeous day to see the surrounding gardens. If you go, this is something I’d definitely recommend (hot dogs were like $7 so also make sure your kid will actually eat one if you buy it!)
National Zoo // The boys love animals, even at our tiny zoo here at home, so spending the better part of the day at the National Zoo sounded great to them. We got there right when it opened (Pro tip: Do this! It was so busy when we left.) and went right to check out the pandas, who we knew had a “snack time” around 9. It was so neat to get to see them in person – truly amazing! We also loved seeing the elephants, playing on the bee-themed playground and checking out the orangutans (one had a new baby and they were adorably playing outside!).
Natural History Museum // Ahh the whole reason for the trip! And it did not disappoint. The Hall of Dinosaurs was set up in a really neat way that you could start on one side and walk one direction into the future or the other to go further back in time. We saw a lot and learned a lot! It never ceases to amaze me how much Jackson knows about dinosaurs, but this was a really cool way for him to learn more. The dinosaur fossils of the T-rex attacking the Triceratops was really neat!
One thing I did not know about this museum until we got there, was that it also was home to the Hope Diamond. That was something I got really excited to see! There were also several other famous gems on display but the boys weren’t super into them, so maybe next time.
A Walk on the National Mall // The afternoon after we went to the White House, we had the boys take naps and then thought we’d start at the Capitol building and walk all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial. Admittedly, we got a little ambitious and thought the boys would be good walking the whole thing (especially sans stroller with Dylan). While they did get tired and fairly cranky toward the end (it took us about 90 minutes to walk the whole thing), it was a really beautiful walk and most of it was very enjoyable! There are little refreshment stands along the mall where you can grab an ice cream, snack or drink, and we definitely made an ice cream stop about half way through. The coolest thing about doing this was being able to see the monuments up close: the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial were our favorites.
So that was our Labor Day weekend Washington DC trip. It was tiring but it was a lot of fun. We came home on that Sunday so we’d have the entire day on Monday to prep for the first day of school and that worked really well! We’re already searching for our next trip so if you have a family trip in a place you’ve loved, please let me know!