Phil’s brother and sister-in-law were married in Maryland in May, 2012, and as a married couple they settled in to life in the northeast. Whenever they came in to town for holidays and family get-togethers, they would tell us that we needed to come visit and tour D.C. with them.
We decided last year, along with our friends Kyle and Ashley (who went to K-State with us), to book a trip out to see them in their adorable town, located in the very northeastern corner of Virginia, right outside of D.C.
Since I wasn’t able to travel until Friday morning (wah, wah), the rest of the crew flew in to Virginia on Thursday afternoon, where Tim and Courtney picked them up and took them out to grab a true northeastern seafood dinner at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse. They all had great things to say about this place! The restaurant sits right on the Potomac River in northeast Virginia and has some amazing home-cooked seafood.
Everyone said the crab meat was amazing, though labor-intensive to get to all of it! I’m bummed I missed out on crab night, but I’m glad they all enjoyed the experience!
So Friday morning rolls around, and the party finally arrives!!
Cue my big, dramatic entrance with a glitter bomb!
Totally kidding. But really though.
I flew directly in to D.C. where Phil met up with me, and we took the Metro downtown to drop my things off at the hotel and meet up with the group. We ended up having a really nice walk (the weather was perfect for monument-hopping) to the National Museum of American History where we met up with the rest of the gang.
We took our time strolling through and really enjoyed looking at all of the different exhibits – especially seeing the original Star Spangled Banner and the Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit, which included a section on 9/11 and the present conflict in Iraq. This was definitely a surprise and a powerful encounter, with it being a major event that occurred during our generation.
…we decided to duck in to a bar close by and grab some drinks and appetizers to tide us over until dinner. We landed on Old Ebbitt Grill as our recharge pit stop and ordered some local D.C. beers and oysters on a half shell.
It was a nice place to take a quick rest and the bartender gave us a couple of breakfast recommendations to check out for the following morning.
After we felt like we had enough energy to tackle some more walking, we headed over to the White House! Several of us had done the tour inside already and agreed it was a one-time thing, so we took the opportunity to snap some photos out front.
Afterwards, we walked over to the area where the World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial are all located (and where the Washington Monument could be seen).
The massive size of the Lincoln Memorial always seems takes me by surprise. The tribute is beautiful with the inscriptions of The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address beside his statue. It was another truly moving stop as we looked out over the Reflecting Pool, admired the sunset and relaxed on the steps.
We collectively decided that this stop was a great end to our monument touring, so we made our way back to our hotel to get cleaned up and ready for dinner and our evening out.
We decided to try out Founding Farmers for dinner, a restaurant located a little outside of downtown (just a metro ride away) and closer to the Georgetown University bar district, which we knew we wanted to check out after dinner.
The restaurant was created with an actual farmhouse look with old wood beams everywhere, handcrafted community farm tables and silo-shaped booths. They had little touches throughout both floors that mixed the rustic farmhouse theme with a newer, modern restaurant.
The place was absolutely packed, so while we waited for our table, we all posted up at the bar and ordered some of their house specialty cocktails. Everyone’s drinks were incredible and extremely creative, so we were really pumped about what our meals would bring!
Phil and I then respectively ordered the Prime Rib Dip Sandwich and the Shrimp & Grits. I have to say for my first seafood meal in D.C., the Shrimp & Grits weren’t mind-blowing, but they were still very tasty. I preferred Phil’s Prime Rib Dip though, mainly because their prime rib and fries were incredible!
After we had our fill of our delicious meals (and two bottles of wine), we made our way to the Georgetown bar district. We hopped around to a few different bars and came across some very interesting people, so needless to say it was an entertaining night!
The next morning we heeded the advice of the Old Ebbit Grill bartender, and went directly across the street from our hotel to grab breakfast at Art and Soul.
I loved the restaurant mantra that the “Art and Soul kitchen serves simple, honest food.” They partner with farmers and local growers who provide products that are sustainably sourced (and amazingly tasty, might I add).
AND they had a “Pooch Patio Menu” which obviously won me over. Seriously, amazing place!
Following breakfast, Phil, Ashley, Courtney and I headed to Arlington Cemetery while Tim and Kyle went to pick up our van at the metro station (since we were all returning to their home in VA that evening).
We took our time walking around the cemetery grounds taking in what can only be described as a truly breathtaking site. Seeing all of the graves of those who fought bravely for our nation was incredibly humbling.
We made our way up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witnessed the Changing of the Guard, as well as visited the tomb of John F. Kennedy. The grounds of the cemetery alone are beautiful, and I’m really glad we made sure to make this a stop during our trip.
After Tim and Kyle arrived with the van, we decided to make a pit stop on our way back to Tim & Courtney’s house and stopped at Fox Meadow Vineyard, a winery in the Northern Virginia mountains!
The rest of the evening we spent lying low at Tim and Courtney’s, watching K-State football and demolishing pizza 🙂
On Sunday morning, we got an early start to our day and headed to mass at the church near Tim and Courtney’s home. From there, we walked to the adorable downtown area to grab some coffee and pastries at Mom’s Apple Pie Company, which is just as precious as you would expect.
Seriously, this place had the most amazing pastries, candy, wine and pretty much everything else you can imagine. I love that businesses in small towns can be a “one-stop-shop” and provide so much variety!
After we were caffeinated and had a proper sugar high, we drove in to downtown Baltimore to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch the Baltimore Orioles play, and we were able to cross off another MLB Stadium off our list!
It was such an incredible stadium though – in the heart of downtown Baltimore, it’s completely covered in red brick with tons and tons and tons of different areas and amenities. It’s truly an experience, rather than just a multi-purpose stadium.
Courtney let us know before the game that the Orioles are well-known for their incredible hitting team and for getting several home runs in a single game. She was not lying. They are a great team which made for a very exciting game to watch!
Since this was our last night, we decided to visit another seafood restaurant for our final east coast dinner. We landed on Mama’s on the Half Shell, which was just a street away from the Baltimore Waterfront, still in the main downtown area.
One thing Mama’s on the Half Shell is famous for is their Orange Crush drink. All of the girls decided to try one before our meal. It’s deceivingly fruity, and definitely not weak. It was a refreshing blend of fresh-squeezed orange juice, liquor, and shaved ice – perfect after a long day at the baseball stadium!
After enjoying our beverages, we ate our fill of their incredible seafood including their crab dip served in a bread bowl, stuffed shrimp (my choice), salmon sandwich + mac & cheese (Phil’s choice) and of course, oyster’s on the half shell.
We lingered over our seafood coma for a while, then decided to check out the downtown Baltimore night scene and visited a few different bars on Thames Street.
Our favorite stop was Admiral’s Cup which was very sports bar-esque with flat screens everywhere (so the guys could watch the Royal’s game) and a live band. This is where we posted up most of the evening, and it was a blast!
Another place of note for us was a bar called Rye. With a prohibition/speakeasy theme, they are known for their classic and well-crafted cocktails. The drinks were fantastic, but the bartenders were definitely proud of their concoctions, because when we asked how they made one of our drinks, they refused to divulge the recipe.
We had a great evening out in downtown Baltimore though and definitely enjoyed our last night of our vacation!
On our last morning in Virginia, we slept in then went back in to the main downtown area to The Secret Garden Café for brunch. This was honestly one of my favorite restaurant stops not only because the food was truly the definition of home-cooked comfort food, but also because of its ambiance.
The building was built in 1840, and it was a home to many families until it was finally sold and converted into a restaurant. It has the feeling of a quaint, antique home with an absolutely stunning garden in the back (which is actually where you enter in to the restaurant). We settled in to a great last meal in Virginia with a nice view of the historic and quiet downtown.
After brunch, we packed up and headed to the airport to drop off Kyle and Ashley, who had an earlier flight than Phil and me. Once we dropped them off, Courtney and Tim took us to Alexandria, VA.
Alexandria is located on the Potomac River waterfront and is a historic district, most famously known for being George Washington’s adopted hometown. It is definitely a tourist hot spot with preserved historic buildings mixed in with newer businesses, galleries and restaurants.
It was a perfect location to walk around and explore before having to head back to the Midwest.
I definitely foresee more northeast visits in the near future! There are so many things to do and to see, and it was an especially great experience to visit those places with family and friends.