Inside The Beltway

August 29, 2018

Adventures in Washington D.C. & Baltimore, Maryland

So much to see, so little time.

My cousin, Nikki, and I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment quick trip to Washington D.C. this past May.  Unfortunately, we were about a week too late and missed the cherry blossoms in bloom, which would have been pretty to see, but we had a great time regardless.  It was a little bit crowded when we went, as both Georgetown, and George Washington University had graduation ceremonies that weekend. Since we were only staying 3 ½  days we decided to back pack it and avoid checking bags. We took an early flight out on Southwest (I must mention our flight attendant had a very entertaining safety speech) and flew into Baltimore Washington International Airport.  In hindsight it probably would have been easier if we had flown into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport instead, but hey, life is all about trial and error!

The back of the White House

The back of the White House

Transportation in D.C.

We found the cheapest and easiest way to get from the airport to Washington D.C. was to take the MARC (Maryland Rail commuter) train.  We took a quick 15 min free shuttle to the BWI Amtrak/MARC train station and from there it was a 35 minute train ride to Union station. Our initial plan was the Hop-on-hop-off bus tour, but some locals and the hotel receptionist told us to save our money and walk.  We took their advice, skipped the bus tour and walked the 4.28 mile loop around the National Mall twice. Yup, you read that right, we walked the whole loop twice! You are probably wondering why, and the reason is, there were a few monuments that we really wanted to see at night all lit up. And of course they were on opposite ends of the National Mall! The walk was manageable, but in retrospect we both wished we had taken the bus tour. Not only would it have saved us time and allowed us to see more, but we also would have liked to hear the history behind each monument and museum. According to my Fitbit, by the end of the night we had walked 9.66 miles (22,451 steps), and done it in record temps in the high 90’s! Needless to say we didn’t smell too pretty.

Where to Stay in D.C.

We Stayed in the Club Quarter Hotel, which was very conveniently located.  It was just steps away from the train station and only 2 blocks from the White House!  They were also very accommodating. We arrived early and weren’t able to check in for a few hours, but they allowed us to leave our luggage locked up in a storage room area behind the front desk, so we could start exploring D.C. without having to carry our bags!

Some of our favorite monuments & memorials

The White House, Washington Monument (can be seen from almost anywhere in the National Mall because of its height), the Lincoln Memorial, if possible see it at night when it’s all lit up. The U.S. Capitol building, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the United States Navy Memorial are also very pretty at night. There were so many more monuments, memorials and museums that we would have loved to see but didn’t have the time. Again, if we had done the Hop-on hop-off tour we probably would have been able to see much more.

Day 1

As I mentioned earlier we arrived too early to check in, so after dropping off our luggage we started sightseeing right away.  Our first stop was the White house since it was only 2 blocks away from our Hotel. There was a peaceful protest going on outside of the White House regarding President Trump, despite my own personal feelings towards the president, it was pretty neat to be walking through the middle of a protest.  My Cousin and I decided to save time and money by grabbing lunch at one of the little food vendors. Obviously not the best lunch, but it was quick and cheap. After walking the national mall loop once we decided to take a rest break and have a nice sit-down dinner at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant.  It was delicious, family style portions and reasonably priced.

After getting a second wind, we walk the entire loop a second time because we wanted to see the U.S Capitol Building, World War II Memorial & the Lincoln Memorial at night.  This wasn’t a quick walk, the U.S. Capitol Building & the Lincoln Memorial are on complete opposite ends of the mall. When we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial there was a large group singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which was a pretty perfect ending to our day. We walked back to our hotel in the dark around 11 pm and felt pretty safe.  Surprisingly there were still a ton of people out and about, walking and jogging around the National Mall.  

Day 2

We got up early, had breakfast in our hotel and checked out.  Once again the hotel was very accommodating and kept our bags for us so we could walk around without them.  We decided to go back to some of the monuments to see them during the day and see a few we missed the day before.  We took a break from the record high heat wave and cooled off in the National Museum of Natural History, which has free admission.  The Museum is quite large and you can easily spend hours walking around inside of it.

Arlington National Cemetery

For us, this was a must see.  We walked from The National Mall (Lincoln Memorial) to Arlington Cemetery, which was 1 mile to the entrance of the cemetery.  At the Cemetery you have the option of walking around on your own or taking a guided tour which drives you around to various stops throughout the cemetery.  Once again we chose to walk just so we could go at our own pace. Walking around the cemetery, I was overcome with a sense of peace but also sadness, seeing all the tombs of our fallen soldiers.  It’s hard for me to put into words they variety of emotions I felt while there. The Memorials, monuments and Cemetery are beautiful and peaceful, yet sad when you think of the reasons for them all.  We even managed to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Arlington Cemetery was a perfect way to end our short trip in D.C.

Laurel & Baltimore, Maryland

After collecting our luggage from the hotel, we took an Uber to the Holiday Inn in Laurel, Maryland where my boyfriend was staying for a work conference.  We were able to crash in his room for the night for free which was a huge bonus! The three of us went to Chido’s Tex-Mex Grill, which was only a few minutes walking distance for dinner and drinks.  The food was good but the margaritas were even better!

Day 3

We had planned to go to Baltimore Inner Harbor for the day, but somehow we ended up going to the wrong place and ended up in National Harbor instead.  There wasn’t much to do at this harbor, but we did go in a few stores, have lunch, and took a nap in Adirondack chairs looking over the harbor. We ate at Redstone American Grill which had a nice outside patio overlooking the harbor.  Once we got our second wind we decided to take an Uber to the Inner Harbor.  This harbor is much bigger, has more shops, restaurants, bars and activities.  It was also much more crowded. We stopped at Phillips Crab Deck for some drinks.  There is a fun candy store that has pretty much every candy you can think of and more.  If you go to the Inner Harbor you should stop in and check it out, it’s called “ITSUGAR”.  The harbor itself is very lively with street entertainers, vendors, shops, bars, and an aquarium. In one section you can rent dragon paddle boats to go out in the harbor.  We ate dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and Uber’ed it back to the hotel in Laurel, Maryland.

Day 4 (technically our ½ day)

Our short trip was coming to and end and it was time to head home. We ate breakfast in the hotel and took an Uber to the Airport.  We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. As luck would have it, Southwest Airlines had another flight that was flying into Albany, NY, which was departing in 45 minutes.  The flight was not full and they were able to put us on the earlier flight. We ended up getting home an hour earlier than initially planned.

Overall, we got to see a lot of Washington D.C. in the short time we were there.  I would like to go back at some point to see the rest of the monuments and memorials we missed and spend time in the many museums.  If I go back I will likely do the hop-on hop-off bus tour and maybe go a little earlier in May to see the cherry blossoms in bloom!

*If you want to see more pictures from Washington D.C. & Baltimore Maryland check out the picture page & Instagram!