I kind of imagine myself as a tiny bit of almost DC local now (ha!), because it’s become my absolute favorite place to travel. It’s an easy driving distance for us, a pretty accessible city overall, and now that we found a hotel we love in The Willard (in this post), it feels comfortable going there. I am actually very, very far from being a DC expert, but I still think it’s fun to share what I did while I was there – I always enjoy reading these posts when other people write them.
It’s a little bit funny, though, because after you read this post, there’s a good chance you’ll think, “huh… she didn’t actually do that much in DC after all.” But that’s just life for me – for my sister and me, when we travel together, things take time. Getting ready takes time – we do not get out early at all! We do what works for us. I still think it’s fun to share, regardless, but just I wanted to mention that upfront. I’m going to split up my post into what we did and where we ate (my personal favorite part, ha!).
Where We Ate
We did a mix of ordering in and eating out – we try not to overdo it by eating out every single night, so that we can have a night or two in the hotel to relax. And DC has so many places that you can easily get delivery from, too, so it’s complication-free.
Tea at Peacock Alley
On weekends, The Willard turns a little hallway (“Peacock Alley”) into the setting of a fancy tea service, with three-tiered tea trays, an assortment of brewed-to-order teas, and even a harpist! I’d seen them serving tea at one of our previous stays, but had never been able to get a reservation in time, because they only have two seatings each day – one at 1 PM, and one at 3 PM. This time, I booked early enough to score a reservation, and was so excited!
It totally lived up to my expectations – I really want to go back later this year for their holiday tea! The food was so delicious – they had scones with cream and different types of jam, sophisticated tea sandwiches (one was curry, one had thinly sliced steak – they were unexpected and delicious!), and SO many incredibly tasty desserts. My tea was delicious, too, and the harpist was so much fun – I made a game out of IDing what she was playing, which included “Surface Pressure” from Encanto and “My Heart Will Go On.” Just the best! Highly, highly recommend if you’re looking for a fancy tea experience – it really was just so cute.
Zaytinya is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in DC, and really, just one of my favorite restaurants full stop. It’s a José Andrés restaurant, and it’s a Mediterranean-inspired tapas style restaurant. You really can’t go wrong – we probably ordered 10ish different dishes to try, and each and every one of them was delicious. Their cocktails are also so tasty!
I also really love their outdoor seating – they’ve even recently expanded how many tables they have outside, which is a major plus. It can be a little bit loud inside – it’s a big open space – but the outdoor area is perfection. It was only about a 10 minute walk from The Willard, which was super convenient, too. It’s just truly a great restaurant that has never disappointed me!
Cafe du Parc
This is the restaurant on-site at The Willard. I will be honest – we mostly chose it for the convenience! But we had a lovely lunch outside on their (huge!) outdoor patio. It’s not a huge lunch menu, but it has a nice variety of sandwiches and slightly heartier entrees, with a French twist. Their coffees are especially delicious, which I really appreciate.
This is kind of the same as Cafe du Parc – it’s the walk-up counter inside the restaurant where you can order coffees, French patisserie desserts, and a few other items. I’m a big fan – their espresso is great, and since the counter is open until 10 PM, it’s super convenient to be able to order my favorite double macchiato late into the evening. Having a coffee shop in the hotel is just such a major perk for me, and even more so when the drinks are good, too!
The rest of our meals were ordered in, but I want to mention Ted’s Bulletin for having the most delicious Tillamook cheddar cheese grits that I will ever have in my life.
What We Did
The short version of this is: a lot of walking around! The weather was honestly perfect, and we were so near so many of the big spots – the Ellipse, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Capitol! We checked them all out.
I had never checked out Constitution Gardens before, and it was so peaceful and beautiful! We had just come from lunch, but it would’ve been the perfect place to take a picnic lunch. Instead, we just roamed and enjoyed. I could’ve spent a lot longer enjoying!
We also walked down to check out the Lincoln Memorial after sunset, but we didn’t stay long at all! There were SWARMS of little gnat-like bugs that would NOT leave my face alone, and I was not a fan.
On a more somber note, I stumbled onto this display about deaths by gun violence put up by the Giffords foundation. It was really sombering to see the scale of it in person.
Our last full day, we did the whole walk from the Washington Monument all the way down to the Capitol. It was such a long walk that Lily had to be carried on the way back, because she was done. My one pet peeve is that much of the National Mall is gravel pathways, which is super bumpy for me in my wheelchair. So we stayed outside and walked on the sidewalk along the street, which was fine – but I would have liked to walk along the grassy mall! I hadn’t been to see the Capitol in probably 10 years, and seeing it with the metal barricades was a stark reminder of the January 6 insurrection. It was, however, the day that my essay for Marie Claire was published, so it was really cool to be at the Capitol (albeit outside).
Somewhere in between the Washington Monument and the Capitol, we stumbled on this little pedestrian throughway behind one of the Smithsonians. It was so pretty – so many flowers and bushes. It felt so removed from the busy street it was alongside.
It was a really, really nice trip – delicious food, and a really nice time roaming around the city. The perfect long weekend trip.