A Weekend Away: 24 Hours in Washington, DC

For many of us living in New York, working hard everyday is the reality. We make a good living and we are good at what we do. Unfortunately that often translates into limited vacation time.

We are lucky here on the East Coast though. There are a host of gorgeous getaways within reach, many just a few hours away.

What’s our favorite city jaunt in spring? Washington, DC! The age-old trees are in bloom and the entire city is basking in the sun’s warm glow. Why not plan a weekend getaway in the nation’s capitol?

The Embassy Row Hotel‘s central location, right off of DuPont Circle, makes it a natural choice for those who want to be near everything DC. A recent $15 million renovation at Embassy Row is complete, and the result is an ultra-chic, uber-upscale hotel that is comfortably cool without looking like it’s trying too hard.
EmbassyRowThe rooms are colorful and comfortable, with little sound from the hallway or street making it inside to bother light sleepers.

Be sure to head up to the rooftop pool and bar, which is the only one of it’s kind in the chic DuPont nabe. Chaise chairs join cabanas with plush seating, a covered lounge, and a small, but beautiful blue pool. Drinks and food can be ordered, so sit and relax while soaking in the sights.
The Embassy also has one of the sweetest gyms in the city. Cardio and a couple of machines are standard, but the foosball and ping pong tables turn a chore into fun.

Named for the hostel in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, DuPont Circle’s Tabard Inn is a local favorite. It’s so under the radar, visitors might expect easy seating. Tabard is, however, a foodie favorite, so yourself a favor and call ahead.
tabardinn092If the freshly made donuts are available, be sure to splurge on the warm and crunchy-with-sugar delights.

The Americana offerings are all amazing: the basted eggs with corned beef hash is wonderful, as is the decadent poached eggs over grits with confit pork belly. Nursing a hangover? Choose the hot porridge with brown sugar and cream for a quick fix.

An 1800s carriage house is home to the Iron Gate Restaurant. Be sure to sit in the courtyard, which is overhung with ancient wisteria vines (all the better if their blooming!). It’s best to order tapas style here, but know that the plates are slightly larger than the usual small bites served in Spanish spots.

You must (!) try the house focaccia with rosemary; the charred, feta-stuffed squid; the pastitsio arancini with beef ragu; and the oak roasted mushrooms in olive oil. Order more, but start with these for sure.

Completely redone and oh-so artisanal, there is a story behind each dish and cocktail on the menu at the Embassy Row Hotel’s Station Kitchen & Cocktails.
StationRestaurantStart with one of the bottled cocktails: small batches made in-house from precious ingredients. Some are bottled to keep fresh, others to age until flavors meld together. Our fave: A concoction called “Of All the Gin Joints,” which is fizzy, light, smooth and delightfully herbal. You better hope they made more since our visit, because we loved those little bottles so much we drank Them. All.

More small plates here, meant to be shared. Korean caveman pops (Asian–spiced chicken drumsticks); meatball Wellington and street corn salad are some of the standouts. Whatever you do, get the bacon lollipops for dessert if they are offered: Ahhmazing!

Large parties can reserve the back of the room, which can be separated from the rest of the dining room by a glass garage door.

DC boasts dozens of museums devoted to everything from Asian art (the Freer and Sackler galleries) to global espionage (the International Spy Museum).
The_Phillips_CollectionOur favorite? The Phillips Collection, which was the first modern art museum in the country. You can see paintings by Renoir and Rothko, Bonnard and O’Keeffe, van Gogh and Diebenkorn in an intimate setting that speaks of taking one’s time. The distinctive building, just five minutes walking distance from Embassy Row, combines extensive new galleries with the former home of its founder, Duncan Phillips.

Botanic Gardens

United States Botanic Garden is an overlooked pleasure in the shadows of the Capitol building. Created by Congress as an instructional garden, this is an oasis of roses; medicinal plants; native, exotic and endangered flowers; orchids; shoots and seeds; ferns; the occasional carnivorous plant and more. You could while away an hour in the National Garden alone, with its Butterfly Garden and the First Ladies Water Garden, which explores the history of White House residents and their gardening interests. Also on the grounds is the lovely Bartholdi Park, where visitors can pick up horticulture tips. No gift shop, no restaurant: Just flowers.

Union Kitchen
If you’re in town at the right time, you need to take a tour of Union Kitchen, a food incubator focused on growing local food businesses. Imagine, 100 or so small culinary endeavors, each working to make their innovative idea the next big thing.
We popped in early on a Saturday evening and stuffed ourselves. Standouts included Pinch Dumplings, which featured such delicate and flavorful bites that we went back for more; Black Pug Smokehouse, which boasts handcrafted local meats from local farmers, smoked with a light touch; G’éclair, whose single-bite, exquisitely decorated éclairs (ohhhh, the caramel/sea salt!) were to die for; and Chiqs, a company that makes light flavorful crackers from chickpeas: no carb and no guilt.

Union Kitchen opens their doors to the public four times a year, and when exactly these events happen are somewhat of a mystery. Call to find out if you’re lucky enough to be in town at the right time.

Take a Moonlight Tour
You haven’t seen Washington DC until you’ve seen it at night. With Washington Trolley‘s evening tour, you’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of Washington DC, and see first-hand how Washington turns into a different city when the sun goes down.
The_Capitol_in_December-1Pass by DC’s most popular monuments and points of interest: FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial and more. The unexpected nighttime perspective lends a sense of mystery to the tour, and the monuments and memorials look lovely all lit up at night.