We recently returned from the most amazing family trip and had to share these Washington DC highlights
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Our family took a long road trip up to the nation’s capital. Since I was asked where we stayed and more details about our trip, I put together these Washington DC highlights.
Can you believe that I had never been to Washington DC until this Thanksgiving trip with my family? Jimmy went for work many years ago but it was my first time along with my kids and it was such a wonderful trip. I’m super close with my little sister but since her family lives up in New York, we don’t get to see them often. I had the idea to meet somewhere in the middle and DC popped up. I had always wanted to go and take the kids to see the nation’s capital.
The youngest in our group was my niece who is 4 and the oldest is Jules who is 14. This trip ended up being so much fun for the entire family. I highly recommend going during Thanksgiving because the weather isn’t too frigid and there aren’t huge crowds. A super cold and windy front arrived on the day we left to go home.
Any trip is work when you have to take the kids but it does get easier every year as they grow in independence. There is sooo much to do and see in DC and I want to thank my kind readers for sending me some wonderful suggestions.
We actually left a day earlier so that we could take it easy going up. Durham NC seemed like a good place to stay overnight and it gave us the chance to take a look at Duke Univesity.
Jules still has about a year or so before she starts looking into colleges but we figured it was still a good opportunity to take in a little visit to a beautiful campus. It reminded me much of my own college campus, Emory in Atlanta. The Duke Garden was beautiful and we barely made it before sunset.
We ate dinner at Nuvo Taco which was pretty decent and then stayed in a Hampton Inn overnight. It’s tricky finding hotels to accommodate 5 bodies so Embassy or Hampton Suites are usually the best inexpensive option if it’s just an overnight stay.
The next morning, we got up and traveled the rest of the way to DC. The whole trip is almost 10 hours from our home and it was nice to break it up. However coming back, we decided to just do a straight shot home. A big thanks to Jimmy for driving the whole way. He listened to podcasts and audiobooks and prefers to drive. It’s perfect because I hate driving! Plus, it gives me the time to work on my laptop while sitting in the back with Emmy who struggles with terrible car sickness.
When we got to DC, we surprised my little nieces because they had no idea they were going to see our family. The whole thing was recorded and it was just the sweetest reaction ever. I just love every chance I get to see their faces.
We stayed in the Navy yard which isn’t far from all the monuments and National Mall but you still need to take the metro. I looked up some places on VRBO since I normally book vacation rentals through that app. All the homes I found were either too small, not clean enough, too far, or too crazy expensive. I wanted to be in a good location, have a kitchen, clean spaces, and a place that could accommodate all 9 of us comfortably.
Through VRBO, I booked Homewood Suites because it had adjoining suites for both of our families. Each suite had a bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen, and living space. Therefore, we had two kitchens, two living rooms, and two bedrooms. The sofas have a pull-out bed in each living space so 10 could sleep in both suites. Instead of using both of the pull-out beds in the living room, we only used one and brought an air mattress to use in one of the bedrooms. We did this so the adults had room to hang out after the kids all went to bed.
The great thing about this hotel was that it had free breakfast which the kids loved so much. I’m not a breakfast person so early in the day but I did appreciate their selection of hot and cold foods. It was one less meal we had to worry about. When you’re on vacation, you really don’t want to cook and I loved that I could sleep in while my early-bird husband took the kids to eat breakfast with my brother-in-law.
Another advantage of staying in the Navy yard was the location. It was fairly empty and we’re guessing it was because it was during Thanksgiving week. There are a lot of good restaurants and you can walk over to the pier to take pictures and just walk around. There’s a great bakery we tried out one day called Mah-Ze-Dahr and of course a local Starbucks nearby. I always have to try the local bakery croissants and they did not disappoint!
We walked over to Whole Foods for a few grocery items and desserts one evening since it was so convenient. You could easily shop for groceries and then cook whatever you need back at the hotel. We didn’t do any cooking really except ramen and make rice because #asianproblems.
If you stay here, you’ll want to go up to the rooftop terrace to take in the beautiful views outside. We were able to see the Nationals park where they were setting up for Enchant that weekend.
They have a pool but it was currently closed. Jimmy used the workout room and went running a few times because he’s a crazy man. There’s also a place in the gym to fill your water bottles if you need.
You can receive fresh linens whenever needed. Due to Covid, they don’t turn over your room unless you specifically ask. We had them do a light turnover one day. We ended up taking the trash down the hall a few times but it was fine. It’s also super close to the metro so taking the train is very convenient and easy to do. I will say that overall, we all felt very comfortable and safe in DC. You have to wear a mask in all of the museums but it’s optional for most other areas.
Okay, I’ll talk about the cons now for this hotel. There isn’t any overnight parking so you have to do the valet. It’s $45 a night so it’s a bit on the pricey side. For two cars, it was $400 but again, it was super convenient. Just be sure to calculate that into your stay. We took the car out a few times and just tipped them whenever we took it out.
I always do laundry when I’m on vacation because we are a family of 5 and we have a ton. The last thing I want to do when I get home is to do 10 loads of laundry. So I like to do a few loads while on vacation. To do one load for washing and drying, it costs at least $5. You can get coins at the front desk. I say at least $5 because sometimes you have to dry it twice so it ends up being $7.50. We probably spent around $30 to do our laundry but it was worth it. Plus, we wanted to wear some of our new Costco clothes!
On the first night, we ate at Bonchon which is a Korean fried chicken restaurant. It was soooo delicious, we ended up having it again the next night. Hey, we like what we like! Yun MI and James ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Due South and oh my goodness, it was soooo good!
The funny thing is that they all came in large tin trays but we realized we didn’t have any ovens. The kitchens both had a small sink, stove, dishwasher microwave, and large fridge but no oven. But then Jimmy came up with the brilliant plan to heat them on the grill up on the patio.
It came out so delicious and I honestly think it was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I have ever eaten. If the catered food was that good, I bet their dine-in meals are fantastic.
Being the Koreans we are, we had to have ramen one late night. It hit the spot!
On the second day, we took the kids to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. I loved that Jules was teaching Emmy about some of the exhibits.
Most of the other museums were closed that day so we decided to visit most of the popular monuments We walked down the National mall and took in all the beautiful scenery. It was pretty windy and cold that day but we were thankful for a beautiful week of no rain and it ended up getting warmer each day until the day we left.
We saw so much this day and walked way over 13,000 steps. The kids were troopers! If you have a toddler or child up to 6 years of age, I recommend bringing a stroller because of all the walking. We saw adults and even kids ride scooters all throughout the area and we totally wanted to do that but we had a stroller in tow. Maybe next time! Make sure to wear comfortable shoes too.
You definitely want to walk all the way to see the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. It’s all really breathtaking!
Be sure to pack lots of snacks and water! They also have food trucks available in various areas.
We also walked over to see the Korean Memorial and the new Martin Luther King memorial. It covers four acres and includes the Stone of Hope, a granite statue of MLK.
On the third day, we took a trip to Costco since Yun Mi and James don’t have one near their home. You know what that means! Hot dogs, pizza and some chicken bakes! We found some amazing clothes that day and had a fun try-on session back at the hotel.
We ate lunch, shopped, and then headed to Georgetown University as requested by Jules. The campus was beautiful and Jules already fell in love with DC after being there for less than 3 days.
One of my IG followers told me to try Wired and Baked cupcakes so we drove down to the popular M Street in Georgetown where all the shops and restaurants are. There are so many great shops on this street and you could literally spend hours here if you love shopping and dining.
It was fairly busy that day but I was determined to try those cupcakes! Jimmy had to drop me and Emmy off since it was so hard finding a parking spot. There was a long line outside but it was moving fairly quickly. As I was next in line to go in, a man came up and asked me if I was in line for coffee. Only cupcake buyers had to be in line so I looked at him and said no I wasn’t. Then I said, “you’re DAVE CHAPPELLE.” He smiled with his buddies and walked inside.
I get star-struck quite easily. Do you remember that time I saw Jules Hough at the Rome airport? I have zero chill and am a total creeper.
On Thanksgiving, we took the metro back into the National Mall to go visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I really wish we had more time to visit the museums but we will just have to save them for next time. Did I already tell you that most of the museums are free?
The Smithsonian museums are actually open all on Thanksgiving which was super nice. There were a good number of people visiting but I wouldn’t say it was crowded at all.
I highly recommend taking your kids to this museum because there is so much to see. We didn’t even have the chance to see all the exhibits. Emmy especially loved the minerals and gemstones and the girls all picked up a piece of jewelry from the gift shop.
Since we had a late start to the day, we went back to the hotel so we could get our Thanksgiving dinner heated. Since this was our last evening together, Yun Mi and I kept talking about going back to see everything later in the evening after the kids were in bed. I had heard it’s stunning seeing the monuments and buildings at night. We all cleaned up and took showers and were chilling on the sofa getting tired and I said, “hmmm should we go?” Jimmy said he’d drive us so the three of us went out while James stayed behind with the kids since he was ready to hit the sack.
It was so worth it! Jimmy drove us to the Capitol and we were able to park close since the cops said that they allow parking on Thanksgiving. We walked up the steps until we hit the barricade and were able to get a really great view of it. It’s stunning at night and even more beautiful than during the day. The good thing is it’s pretty safe to go around any of these areas at night since they are well patrolled. Given the recent current of events, there are barricades in place so you can’t go up terribly close. Even still, we had the best view we could get.
Jimmy then drove us to see the White House. You can’t go close to the front but you can get a really great view of the back. Now, I can say I’ve seen the White House in person! Well, at least the back of it anyways.
We all shared how it was one of the best trips we have taken yet. Some of the kids teared up and were sad to say good-byes to each other. Times together like this make us really cherish each other and we can’t wait for our next reunion.
Thanks so much for reading and hope this information is helpful if you decide to stay in DC! We highly recommend it.
Let all that you do be done in Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14