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(Mis)adventures in D.C.

(Mis)adventures in D.C.

Traveling with a toddler - The highs. The lows.

And the moments that make it all worthwhile.

Two days before my husband was scheduled to travel to D.C. for a work trip, he asked if I'd like to join and bring the baby. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity! I had never been and even though it was a little stressful considering everything I would need to do to prepare in two days, I was excited! Let the planning begin!

Looking at flights into D.C., they were a little pricier than I was hoping so I started exploring other possible options. Well, I found it was about a third of the cost to fly into Baltimore and the train takes you to D.C. in around 30 minutes. SOLD! Looking more at the public transportation options, I also found that you can get around pretty easily in D.C. and the surrounding areas. After some discussion, we decided I would bring the stroller but leave the car seat behind since I would be flying alone with the baby and would already have my hands full.

Evi’s 1st Flight ✈️

While I had been pretty nervous about flying with our 15-month-old by myself for the first time, I couldn't imagine it having gone any smoother, to be honest. Aside from the flight being delayed, everything pretty much went according to plan. Since my husband had flown out the day before, I had him take our luggage with him so all I had to carry was my purse and Evi's diaper bag. I made sure to pack a couple of books, plenty of little toys, a tablet as a last resort should she get antsy having to sit still for three hours, and of course, LOTS OF SNACKS! Along with all the other things toddlers require like diapers, wipes, sippy cups, and a change of clothes. As you can see from the first picture of her in the airport and then we were on the plane, we ended up needing that change of clothes way sooner than I had expected so I was glad that hadn't been missed!

By a stroke of luck, we ended up with a whole row of seats to ourselves even though she had been booked as a lap infant and we would have only reserved a single seat. This was greatly appreciated just with needing to get things in and out of the diaper bag which would have been much more difficult without that room. After a couple of snacks, a book, and maybe five minutes watching Peppa Pig on the tablet, Evi slept most of the remainder of the flight. So even though my arm was thoroughly numb by the time we landed, this mama was super grateful!

Since our flight had been delayed, that meant we ended up arriving in Baltimore around 10:30 p.m. rather than the planned 6:30 p.m. arrival. In turn, we missed out on a whole evening since we had planned to go to dinner and explore a little when we got in. It was unfortunate, but... these things happen.

When we got to Baltimore, my husband met us at the airport. We rode the MARC to D.C.'s Union Station, took a quick look around, and then two rail lines got us to our hotel, in Arlington, VA just after 11 p.m. We were exhausted! We went straight to bed hoping to make the most of the next day.

Unfortunately, Evi and I both woke up coughing and just not feeling 100%. With my husband working, we decided to just take it easy at the hotel until he got back. Around 2 p.m. my husband was let off early when a guy working on electrical wires apparently cut the wrong wire leaving much of the area without power. The positive in this was that the idea of getting out and exploring with another set of hands to help with the baby was much more appealing than doing it solo when I wasn't feeling 100%. While I had hoped to take Evi to the Smithsonian Zoo and check out the Wonderplace at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, with our trip now being cut much shorter than initially anticipated, between flight delays and being under the weather, I scrambled to map out a new plan out for us.

So Tuesday afternoon we set out, ready to take in as much as we could with the short time we had left. A positive of the hotel we stayed at, the Crystal Gateway Marriott, is that it has direct access to the subway station (it's the Crystal City stop for the blue and yellow lines). As you walk to the underground route to the subway, there are numerous restaurants and shops, which is convenient and another positive I'd attribute to the hotel. We hopped on the yellow line to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station and started taking in the sites. Within just a few blocks, you will see a number of the Smithsonian museums. There are so many beautiful buildings to admire as well as a sculpture garden. We decided not to attempt visiting a museum on this trip with Evi being so young. There are several that are certainly on my list for another time though, likely when Evi is a little older and able to appreciate it too.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian National Zoo were both originally on my list for this trip but having been a little under the weather, it just didn't happen. We will be planning a trip back likely next year though and these will be on the top of my list. Evi already loves zoos and I had hoped to take her to the Wegman's Wonderplace at the American History Museum which is an interactive exhibit with activities geared towards littles 0 to 6 years old. And the amazing thing about the Smithsonian museums is that admission is free!

After walking around being tourists for a bit, we found ourselves outside the Spy Museum and went inside intending to take the full tour. The staff at the entrance though somewhat talked us into just touring the gift shop rather than paying for the tour. While we had initially planned to do the full tour, we weren't disappointed by just the gift shop tour. We ended up getting gifts for all the kids here too which was awesome and checked that off our list easily.

After the gift shop at the Spy Museum, we continued walking with the intent of ending up at the water where we had tickets to take the Capitol River Cruise over to Georgetown for our dinner reservation at Farmers Fishers Bakers. Unfortunately, once we arrived and were seated on the sidewalk waiting to get on board, we were informed that the boat had issues that would not be resolved in time to accommodate those tickets. We decided to keep walking along the water to look for an alternative as the boat ride was something that we were excited to have Evi experience this trip. At the Wharf, we were able to get tickets on their next boat ride and boarded immediately.

The boat ride was fun and Evi did enjoy it once she woke up from her nap. We were able to take in a ton of the monuments this way as well and learn some history from our tour guides. The scenery once we got off the boat was gorgeous and we were very close to the restaurant where I had made reservations although rather early. We went ahead and checked in and they were able to seat us earlier than anticipated which worked out great.

The service and food at Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown was all that it had been hyped up to be and we enjoyed our meal. There was quite a variety on their menu too which I think most would appreciate. After dinner, we went back to walking and taking in the sights. We were right on the water which I love and the area was definitely beautiful and a great area to explore by foot. We spent the evening taking in the sights of Georgetown before a late bus ride back to the hotel.

The next day, my husband again had training and I had a minimal amount of work I needed to do so Evi and I slept in a little. Once we woke up, it was nearly lunch and my husband came back to the hotel with food from the Crystal City Shops so we ended up having pitas delivered to our room. After lunch, Evi and I played for a bit and walked around the hotel before heading back to the room for a little downtime so that I could respond to emails before my husband was done for the day. Once he got back to the hotel, we headed out. We had tickets for a ghost tour in Alexandria and took the bus to get there. Overall, the ride was easy. It was one bus to Alexandria that took maybe 30-40 minutes from the stop in front of the hotel to about two blocks from where we were to meet our tour guide at the Alexandria Visitor's Center.

Because it was "off-season", we were one of only two parties participating in the ghost tour which made for an accommodating tour guide and a great overall experience, in my opinion. I fell in love with Alexandria on this tour and even the history (maybe surprising given that it was a ghost tour, after all). The tour guide was amazing and quite knowledgeable and I would most definitely recommend the company, Alexandria Colonial Tours. I learned during the tour that they are the only locally owned tour company as well, making it that much more recommendable.

After the tour, we again set out to take in the scenery by foot and I am so glad we did as our evening in Alexandria was my most memorable from this trip. I absolutely loved the historic streets lined with blooming trees and hanging lights. The restaurants all looked amazing, to be honest, and the shops that were still open to browse were adorable little boutiques with not only cute tourist finds, but quality wares and clothing. We found our token Christmas ornament at one of the shops here as well as a hard-back toddler book on America that Evi has thoroughly enjoyed.

Our prized find of the trip, however, was when we ventured further into the streets of Alexandria and into Union Street Public House. While the restaurant was not on one of the streets lining the waterfront or boasting crowds pouring out the doors (when we ventured in at least), we LOVED it! Right off the bat, our bartender, Tim, was positively fantastic! Because we travel with a toddler, crowds aren't really ideal and the fact that we were welcomed so fully into the place which we later learned was just on the off-peak season due to Congress and the summer schedules, we found all of the staff to be so friendly with our family. We initially decided on eating here because of the oyster reviews, and while they were great, the fish and chips we ended up sharing with Evi was TO DIE FOR! No joke! The drinks were great. The bartender and staff were prompt and wanted to go above and beyond (like telling us about their own ghost history), and the drinks were also exceptional. While discussing the trip back home, my husband and I both agreed, that the highlight of the trip, with all of the amazing places we experienced, was this little historic bar and restaurant we happened upon in Alexandria, somewhat by chance. So, if you are in the area, please, check them out! Evi recommends dancing at the bar a little to the 90's/00's mix that definitely hit home with my husband and I. Haha.

After dinner and a drink (or two), we leisurely meandered back to the bus stop and headed back to the hotel for some much-needed rest. The next morning was an early one and we were up and at it before the sun to make it to the Metro station by 6 am to ensure I was at the Baltimore airport by 7 am for our 9 am flight.

Overall, this was a whirlwind of a trip as it was quite short, and then mixing in the fact that we were a little under the weather, I feel that we made the most of the situation. While I will say that there were a few moments wanting to Uber, overall, I really did find the Metro easy to navigate and get where you want to be. It was incredibly inexpensive too, especially if compared to a ride-share option. Overall - the flight into Baltimore and using the public transportation options were a win, in my opinion. There was no shortage of things to do in the area and the trip was overall fairly inexpensive. Had we had the time (and energy) to go to the zoo and museums as originally planned, that still would have been quite low cost as the admissions would have been free and it would likely have just meant buying more food out and likely more souvenirs. I think it is very likely we will be visiting the D.C. area again in the near future.

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