Washington D.C.

A9R3C65When I told my 12-year-old daughter our first stop in Washington DC would likely be the National Mall her reply was, “Is there a Forever 21 there?” With that remark and a lot of teasing from her older brother, my husband and I knew a family trip to our nation’s capital was long overdue. Washington DC feels like the gateway to America’s north as well as its south, and, if you’ve never been, the experience is surprisingly affordable. Many of the attractions are free and yet, after a week spent wandering through museums, relics and government buildings, it can feel as if you’ve barely scratched the surface. Each neighborhood, from Tony Dupont Circle to Foggy Bottom and Chinatown, all reveal their own personalities with a clutch of eclectic shops, restaurants and historic backdrops.
Walking through the streets of DC, whether it’s along Pennsylvania Avenue or some narrow passageway, you’re literally taking a stroll through history. What may look like just another alley, is where John Wilkes Booth made his escape from Ford’s Theatre after shooting President Lincoln. As for that busy non-descript intersection, well that’s where George Washington galloped off on horseback. While most city streets are littered with directional signs, Washington DC’s avenues are punctuated with historic plaques marking occurrences from centuries past. If you don’t arrive to DC a history buff, you’ll likely return home one. It’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in our forefather’s vision some 200 years later. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” We couldn’t agree more.A9R3C69

Where to Stay:
Located on a quiet street in the upscale Dupont Circle neighborhood is this Kimpton property. Not only does Hotel Palomar boast a great location, near many restaurants and shops, but it’s also about a 15-minute walk from Georgetown and Logan Circle and a bit of a longer walk (or quick Metro ride) from many well-known attractions. The rooms are nicely appointed, but what makes Hotel Palomar a standout (or any Kimpton property) is the level of service and quirky amenities. Pets stay free, there are yoga mats in each room, and you can request to “borrow” a goldfish to entertain the kiddos. The goldfish equivalent for adults is the nightly wine hour from 5-6pm. The lobby comes alive as fellow guests enjoy complimentary wine and small plates, while kids sip lemonade or hot chocolate. The hotel is home to Urbana Restaurant & Wine Bar, but there are plenty of places to eat within a few blocks. In the summer the hotel’s heated outdoor swimming pool and sundeck provide a nice reprieve from sightseeing. www.kimpton

Where to Eat:A9R3C71
If it’s good enough for the POTUS, it’s good enough for the rest of us. Actually, this U Street Corridor landmark has served dignitaries and diplomats, as well as A-list (and D-list) celebrities since opening in 1958. It’s a no-frills institution known for its chili dogs and burgers. And, in keeping with current trends, Ben’s also offers turkey and veggie varieties as well as salad. www.benschilibowl.com

Located in Downtown DC is the Texas-based Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, which offers a fine dining experience for both lunch and dinner. Steak is what they do best, but the lobster roll with its succulent chunks of meat and buttery roll could easily convince carnivores otherwise. The cheesesteak eggrolls and lobster bisque are also standouts. Don’t leave without having the butter cake (easily shareable). The 1,200-lable wine list is superb, but the selection of handcrafted cocktails, especially the VIP, is extremely sip-worthy. The restaurant boasts three floors with two bars, a lounge and a wine cellar. For a more casual dining experience, opt to sit at the downstairs bar. It’s chatty and less buttoned up. www.delfriscos.com

For travel information: www.washington.org

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