Since moving to the Washington, DC area, I have been so busy that I haven’t had the time to truly explore my brand-new backyard. Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to be able to play tourist in my own city. So, I decided to create my own 2 day mini-cation in Washington, DC where I got to play none other than a tourist. Love me a mini-cation!!!

What I Did!

Each day, I did something unique and different in the city. Two days in Washington, DC can seem like a lot or a little, but it is always a challenge to figure out what to do. There is SO much to do in this glorious city. I did the majority of my mini-cation on my own, but my friend Ashley joined me for part of it which was super fun!

Day 1

On my first day in the city, I met my friend Ashley for her birthday. We started off our day at the local Shake Shack – Ashley’s Birthday choice! -, a burger joint that is up to par with the iconic West Coast joint: In N’Out Burger. We, then, went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery where I had reserved us some tickets. After wondering the museum for some time, we decided to head to none other than the city center’s TJ Maxx! Yes, you heard me right – TJ Maxx’s are amazing in Washington, DC. We had both heard that the Washington, DC neighborhood of Georgetown has a pretty great TJ Maxx, so we decided to give the city center one a try, too. It had a pretty great selection, despite it being a smaller scale city-style location. Ashley and I, then, said our goodbyes, and I decided to head onto the Metro (Washington, DC transit subway system) to the National Mall. Wearing my pink Jack Rogers sandals, my feet started to hurt and I started to feel poached as I forgot to pack a bottle of water so I stopped at a local stand near the Smithsonian Castle – the original Smithsonian Museum built in the 1800’s during I think Andrew Jackson’s presidency – and grabbed a soft pretzel and a bottle of water. I spent the next half hour just simply people watching along the National Mall, before setting down on the grass to admire the United States Capitol in front of me and the National Monument behind me. Such a splendid way to spend a day!

***Noted***: Currently due to COVID-19, the Smithsonian Museums are offering ticketed admission for varying time slots throughout the day to their museums. The museums are slowly but surely opening up and visitors must reserve their ticket approximately 30 days in advance to even get one, due to their high demand. If you do not know about the Smithsonian Museums, they are government-funded museums all across Washington, DC with a few in other cities across the country offering free admission to all visitors. All visitors must wear a mask and maintain their social distance throughout the entire duration of their visit. Like the pre-pandemic days, the Smithsonian Museums are still free to all who come to visit. Museums include: The Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The National Zoo, The Renwick Gallery, The National Archives, and my favorite The Museum of American History.

Day 2

Over the past decade or even longer, I had dreamed of going to visit the Washington National Cathedral, yet I hadn’t had made it. Usually, the Washington National Cathedral is booked throughout the day and it is hard to find an available time slot, especially during the busy holiday season. One night when I struggled to fall asleep, I went onto their website on a whim only to find a ticket to visit the current Les Colombes exhibit at the cathedral. So, I booked it!

My second and final day of my mini-cation, took a different turn than I had expected. My day started out with me taking the Metro into the city and to the Tenleytown/American University Metro stop. Little did I know, the Washington National Cathedral would be a 1.5-2 mile walk away from it. Though the longer than expected walk caught me by surprise, I managed to enjoy it and the fairly residential neighborhood with several local joints and chain restaurants in the area. The neighborhood was gorgeous and extremely safe and walkable. I had never been to that neighborhood in Washington, DC, and it was a nice change of pace from the typical touristy city that I have known for the most part. After my long walk, I had finally arrived at the absolutely stunning National Cathedral. My jaw most definitely stopped when I had arrived at the stunning park and just simply walked upon it. If you are visiting, then it is free to walk the church grounds, but you need a ticket to go inside. Once I got inside, however, my jaw began to drop even more! The cathedral’s interior is pretty stunning and reminds me of the cathedrals that I had visited in Europe – Westminster Abbey, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, among the likes! The Les Colombes exhibit made it all that more gorgeous, too. Les Colombes is a traveling exhibit of origami paper doves that was instilled in the Washington National Cathedral in late 2020. The doves symbolize hope after a year full of several trials and struggles. After my visit at the cathedral, I walked over to the nearby Chipotle and then took the Metro to my excitedly awaited visit to the Renwick Gallery. As I got off of the Metro and got lost and lost on my way to the Renwick Gallery, I had finally found my way – ONLY to see that the streets were blocked off and a protest that had just begun was in my way. Looking out for my safety being solo that day, I found the nearest Metro station and headed for home – BUT on my way there, I walked along the Black Lives Matter street and mural! It was all in all, a super neat day, even though things did not go as expected, they never do and that day was just a prime example of it.

Even at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was very happy that I was able to plan a great little trip into my own backyard. I love love love getting to play tourist, even in my own town, and I hope to do it again very soon!

XOXO – Katie <3

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