There is nothing quite as fun as taking off for the holidays...no, I'm not being sarcastic, I promise. I love everything about making the most of the kids' time off of school. Co-parenting has always made for a tricky scheduling of the holidays and it hasn't gotten any easier even with adult children, so this season we decided to do what we've never done before, take off without the girls. We chose a city the girls had already visited but felt that Ari would love, Washington D.C.
It had been YEARS since I had been to our nation's capital, I was definitely very excited to plan this trip. We wanted to surprise Ari but also uphold his wish of celebrating with the family on New Year's Eve so we booked our flights to depart on the 26th of December and return on the 30th. Four nights was just right to hit up all the spots and still have some time to unwind. We rented a car and planned our stay just outside the district to be in a family centric area. Old Town Alexandria, VA was the perfect combination. Just a 13min drive to D.C. but also within walking distance to all major modes of public transportation with quite a bit of nightlife & ice cream shops on their main street. It was the best of both worlds.
At first, I wasn't too keen on booking a traditional hotel, much less for the entirety of our stay but, Ernie persuaded me in order to save some time. So I did the impossible which was to find a hotel that would include a hot breakfast, have a kitchenette AND be in an area where we would be able to park our rented car street side. Now, truth be told, I did not have the hotel booked until we actually arrived to the area which allowed for us to drive around and see where we could park before deciding. But I did have a list of places I had in mind as well as pricing. When we do this sort of thing (not book till last minute) we also like to walk into the lobby and ask if they can beat the rate online. They are always honest and most of the time, they cannot. This was one of those times so we booked three nights (because I still wasn't convinced on the notion of staying in one place the whole time , even if it meant only one night left to explore beyond the city). Still $270.09 for 3 nights with breakfast (which was pretty darn good, like for real...I mean they didn't have an omelet station but I was still pretty pleased with the freshness and selection) AND a kitchenette was a steal (all taxes and fees included)! On our last day they even set up a hot chocolate bar in the lobby and Ari nearly tripped over himself when he realized it was FREE! This kid of mine loves a good deal as much as his momma. The service was stupendous and on the eve of our last day I called downstairs and asked if they could extend our reservation for one more day. They did, and only charged us $68 for it!!! It was definitely a WIN.
When I plan vacations I like to do quite a bit of research in order to get the itinerary right and make any reservations if necessary but I try not to have a solid "things to do list", instead more like suggestions or points of interest. Our list was pretty long and we like to sleep in but, somehow we made it all happen. We took our leisure with breakfast, went back up to the room and packed snacks for the day before heading out with no plans to return till bath and bedtime. We had only 1-2 meals out and about and were able to be rested enough to hit up the attractions when most of the crowds were long gone. You'll notice that almost every landmark photo we took was in the evening. The sun sets in D.C. at around 5pm but we were still visiting Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington all the way till dinnertime.
We truly enjoyed experiencing the capital as it was dressed for the holidays but our favorite activity, by far, was our time spent in both the National Museum of Natural History and the USPTO's Inventors Hall of Fame. The Inventors Hall of Fame is situated within the US Patent and Trademark Organization which in itself is a pretty cool place to be. The exhibit highlights patents and trademarks created by the creative minds of our nation. It was fascinating to say the least. There was quite a bit of information but also interactive parts where one could play with robots and media tech. Reading about the processes of the great inventors of our time, seeing their charts and notebooks, hearing their interviews, was not only educational but empowering. I might have liked it more than Ari though as he preferred a second day at the National Museum of Natural History because one afternoon simply wasn't enough. There is no better feeling than to witness your child's light up and open wide as they soak in new things in wonder and amazement. Our little guy loves to travel but not just to go from place to place like a checklist, he wants to take things in fully. While we were at the Library of Congress he just wanted to sit amongst the book in the children's area and simply be in that space. At the museum it looked like he felt his eyes just weren't big enough to take it all in. He even sat through a movie about the deep sea twice. And then to run up and down the National Mall's wide open green spaces without a care in the crisp cool air. It was better than I could have dreamed!
I won't bore you all with the gritty details this time but if you would like a sample itinerary along with specifics on restaurants, cafes and hotel please comment below. As you all already know, I love to share but I also don't know how to be short about it.
Multi-tasking over-thinker that is, as you can imagine, often running late.