Beyond Somerville: Weekend in Washington

I lived in Washington, D.C., for one summer during college when I interned at USA Today and while it’s not the city I chose to live in, it’s one I love to visit. My younger brother has decided to reside in D.C., so I recently took a weekend trip down there to see him, revisit some old haunts and explore some new ones. Here are five highlights from my trip.

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Farmers Fishers Bakers: This sustainable-minded restaurant on the Georgetown Waterfront came highly recommended, so I knew it was a must-try during our visit. The food, which is focused on the seasonal, local and handmade, was delicious. There are a wide range of offerings, including a variety of meat and seafood dishes, pizzas and salads that are unlike any you’ve ever had. The wine, beer and cocktails were good, but the bar itself was very slow. The best part of the meal came at the end when I went to heaven dining on the Virginia Peanut Butter Mousse. Make sure to check out the decor while you’re there–we especially loved the walls lined with rolling pins and shovel/trees (pictured above).

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Mount Vernon Trail: My brother actually lives across the Potomac River from D.C. proper, right near an entrance to the Mount Vernon Trail. The 18-mile long path runs along the Virginia side of the river and was populated by runners, walkers and cyclists when I visited. I went for two runs along the trail and wished I could’ve done more. It was a lovely paved path, with ample room for everyone using it and great views of D.C. and the water. I highly recommend trekking across the Potomac to bike, walk or run along it if you find yourself in D.C. (Pro tip: If you want to bike the Mount Vernon Trail or just around D.C., rent one from the city’s version of Hubway, Capital Bikeshare.)

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United States Botanic Garden: I’d never been to the United States Botanic Garden before, but I’m glad I finally went. Many of the outdoor plants weren’t blooming yet, but the early spring flowers were absolutely lovely. And even better was the incredible indoor Conservatory, which was bursting with exquisite orchids, medicinal plants from all over the world and much more. Located right next to the Capitol, the Botanic Garden is well worth a visit.

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Smithsonian National Museum of American History: This museum isn’t exactly a secret and there’s a reason why. It’s home to several wonderful exhibits that capture the vibrant history of America. I loved seeing Julia Child’s kitchen and the accompanying exhibit about food in America throughout the last several decades. My other favorite spaces were an incredibly large and detailed dollhouse, an exhibit dedicated to the First Ladies and the Gunboat Philadelphia. And if you’re missing the routine of home, you can even do some laundry the old-fashioned way at a demonstration that takes place right outside.

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Old Town Alexandria: As with the Mount Vernon Trail, Old Town Alexandria isn’t actually in D.C., but it’s well worth the short Metro ride. We spent an entire day wandering Old Town’s historic streets, taking in the unique architecture and important sites. We also popped in and out of the town’s many cute shops (snagging a delicious bag of coffee from Misha’s) and strolled by the waterfront. Old Town was incredibly charming and I’d definitely return there on another visit to D.C., perhaps to try some of its excellent-looking restaurants.

There’s obviously a lot to do in D.C. and these are just a few of my recent favorites. I’d love to hear about your can’t-miss D.C. museums, activities and restaurants, so leave your recommendations in the comments!

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