Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, can lead to an extremely heated debate/discussion just by mentioning the words without getting to finish your statement. All politics aside, it is one of my favorite places to visit due to the amount of history, architecture, *free* things to do, and access to reliable public transportation.
D.C. is a place where you could easily try and cram too much into a day and cause yourself to crash from exhaustion and miss out on the next days’ planned activities. It is for this reason that I try to limit myself to 1 or 2 “must” visit sights during my trip. I have also started to recently try an focus on a given neighborhood, and for this quick trip, I would spend a majority of time in Dupont Circle.
**Certain museums/sights are extremely popular and will release tickets months in advance. While these museums are free, you may need to pay a small fee for the online service. Make sure to check each museum website for ticketing information.
Day 1, Saturday:
After arriving in off of one of the last flights of the night, the best way to start your Saturday morning is by catching a few extra hours of sleep. Thanks to a rather gloomy and rainy start to the day, plans were around shifted, and a visit to one of the many free Smithsonian Institution Museums was in order.
The Hirshhorn primarily focuses on contemporary and modern works of art that have been made in the past 50 years. Their exhibits are varied in subject and medium.
The third floor contains their permanent collection, and one the best spots to take a break and collect your thoughts. On this floor, you will find a room with a large couch, free WiFi, and a partial view of the National Mall.
One of their current exhibits, running through January 1, 2018, is Ai Weiwei’s Trace. In this exhibit, Weiwei has created 176 portraits which portrays individuals from around the world whom the artist and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech. The use of Lego’s creates an interesting image, looking through a lens of your camera or phone offers a clearer image.
No trip to Dupont is complete without making a stop to browse the shelves for something to read or quick bite to eat.
(Pay what you want*)
After raining for most of the day, the weather decided to clear up in time for a nighttime walking tour around Dupont. The Dark Side of Dupont & Embassy Row tour provided a quick 2.5 hour tour of the area with a mix of history. Similar to many of the European style walking tours, you pay what you felt the tour was worth at the end. The guide was fantastic and delivered the material in a story type fashion and didn’t try to cram too much information all in at once.
Facts you might take away from the tour:
+ Dupont Circle gets it design thanks to Pierre Charles L’Enfant . The main circle contains a public park and a fountain, with the remaining roads branching out from the circle. More of a side note, but it kind of reminds me of a smaller version of the Arc de Triomphe with more traffic lights impeding the flow of traffic.
+ Dupont Circle was originally called Pacific Circle, but it was renamed to honor Samuel Francis Du Pont , a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
+ Embassy Row, was once referred to as Millionaires’ Row, were homes to wealthy individuals/families. During the Great Depression, many of the homes were sold.
Day 2, Sunday:
Thanks to gorgeous weather, day two was filled with nothing but walking and just wandering the streets to see what Dupont had to offer.
There is something to be said about being able to immerse yourself in the neighborhood that you are visiting. One of the fast and funnest ways is being able to connect with local vendors and meet new people at the local farmers’ market.
With free entry, many vendors offering samples of their products, and one vendor even offering gluten free and casein free breakfast pastries for purchase, it is worth a visit.
It’s a one of a kind experience. Part hotel, permanent estate sale, event space, and tourist attraction all in one, the mansion ( 5 homes connected into one) was an experience to say the least. If you are up for a challenge and want to search and find one of its 70 secret doors; then I would look at booking one of their tours. Pre-purchasing a ticket online for $15 or $20 at the door, offered you the chance to explore the mansion on a self guided tour. If you are looking to save some additional money, I would check Groupon prior to purchasing tickets to see if they have any specials available.
Once, the former house of Larz and Isabel Anderson that was used to entertain distinguished guests and foreign dignitaries during D.C.’s social season. It is now headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati and open to the public for tours and event rentals. The house is still actively used by the society today and even hosts members while they are in town.
*Tours start at quarter past each hour, and you will need to ring the bell to be buzzed in.
* There is a small museum that you can visit within the house as well
+Fun random fact- The house would have been much smaller, had it not been for the fact that the plans did not account for José Villega’s The Triumph of the Dogaressa. This “little” mistake caused for the addition of the side wings of the building.
Day 3, Monday:
Due to an afternoon flight, my remaining time was short, so visiting another museum wasn’t really an option.
Located through out D.C., old call boxes used to alert police and fireman were restored from 2000 to 2009 by local artists. Some of the boxes have little paintings, while others have iron sculptures. One of them happened to be near D.C.’s version of the Spanish Steps. If you have been to the ones in Rome, you’ll most likely be disappointed; however, the street view on a fall day is worth the short climb. Plus, you can get your picture taken with a colorful panda stature.
Eats- Gluten Free (GF)/Casein :
- Wicked Waffle – $1 up-charge for GF Waffle
- Cava – it’s a chain, but accommodates GFCF easily
- Scion – Brunch – can accommodate GFCF; however, wasn’t a fan
- Moby Dick House of Kabob- Chain GFCF. Make sure they don’t put the butter on the rice if you order it!
- Bareburger – GF easily. CF if you don’t get the cheese
- Oyamel – Make sure to have reservations!! Very accommodating for allergies
- sweetgreen- GFCF – Make your salad or remove items from menu listed ones. Just make sure to have them change gloves and bowl is clean