Friday, May 31, 2013

Our DC Vacation!

Our crazy family
I shared with you why I believe Washington DC is a great family trip in a previous post but didn't really share any of the details of our own trip we took earlier in the month. I wanted to take this time to share our specific experience with you because it may give you a better idea of the type of vacation it is.

We left on Thursday night around 8pm to be sure that rush hour(s) would be over and with the hope that Olivia would sleep for the car ride.  We got to DC quickly with no traffic and Olivia slept the whole time. The only downfall was that we arrived to Hilton around 2am exhausted and we had to wake Olivia up to bring her inside and she didn't want to go back to sleep. She was well rested while we couldn't keep our eyes open. Needless to say, we didn't get a good night's sleep or much sleep at all that first night.

Friday, was hot and sunny so we decided to go to the National Zoo.  I was nervous to take the Metro with our big stroller and since the zoo had a parking lot we decided to drive. I had read on the zoo's website that parking fills up quite early so we left our hotel by 9am for the 15 minute drive. Well, driving to the zoo was the biggest mistake we could have made. We ended up getting in a fender bender in a huge traffic circle and it definitely got our trip off on the wrong foot.

Needless to say that after dealing with the police, who were surprisingly nice to us New Yorkers, we got to the zoo much later than we originally aimed for and all parking lots for the zoo were full. We must have driven around for a good 30 minutes looking for parking somewhere near the zoo but you needed special permits almost everywhere. We had just about given up and were going to head back to the hotel when we found some parking by some shops about a half mile from the zoo. Problem was that the meter would only allow for an hour and a half at most. So my hubby needed to make sure he kept going back to put more money in the meter.

Finally at the Zoo

We finally got into the zoo around noon and it was hot. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat and then proceeded to see the elephants, Olivia's favorite. By the time we were done eating and visited the elephants it was time for Joe to run back and put more money in the meter. Olivia and I explored while waiting for him. When he got back we went to some more exhibits but before we knew it, it was time to renew meter again. It was hot and I felt bad having him run back and forth and we were still shaken up from our accident so we just decided to leave the zoo. I was disappointed because we only saw half the zoo and didn't make our way to the children's area which was at the far end of the park.  We decided we would try and visit the zoo again on Sunday before we left.

We went back to the hotel and decided we would stay close to the hotel in Bethesda, MD and look for someplace to eat.  We ended up at The American Tap Room.  We had some scrumptious food including a Bavarian pretzel appetizer that we all enjoyed. The service was quick and it was nice to rest and chill out after our exhausting day.

My delicious burger and perfectly seasoned fries

Saturday we managed to get an early start. We learned our lesson on Friday and decided to travel on the Metro. The Metro station was only about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. We took it to the Metro Center stop and could have changed subway lines to get closer to the National Mall but we wanted to maneuver the stroller around the subway as little as possible so we went up to the street level and walked. It only took about 15 minutes to get to the Museum of Natural History.

Museum of Natural History

We roamed around the Museum of Natural History for two hours. If Olivia wasn't so young we could have easily spent all day there but we needed to keep her interested so she wouldn't have any temper tantrums. We then moved on to the Museum of American History. I remembered this particular museum being so great when I was younger but was disappointed with it this time. Then, I realized half the museum was closed for renovations.  We probably only looked around for a half hour at the few things that Liv would like. We then had lunch there and proceeded to move on the museum number three, The Air and Space Museum. By this time the museum was mobbed but we made the best of it. Olivia enjoyed seeing all the planes. By the way, did I mention entrance into all the museums was FREE!!

We walked the whole entire day and then proceeded to walk to the Metro Center stop to catch the Metro back to our hotel.  The station was mobbed and I was starting to panic that we wouldn't be able to get on with our big stroller. We had to hustle but we found room. All in all, the Metro was an easy way to travel even with a baby.

Hanging out at the hotel
Sunday was our last day and unfortunately the weather left something to be desired. It was drizzling and overcast so we decided the zoo wouldn't be a good idea, just in case the rain got worse. We headed back to the National Mall where we could go to the museums again in case of a downpour.  Once we got there we decided to take the walk to some of the monuments. We saw the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. After that, we decided to head to the National Gallery but had to leave because our daughter thought it was funny how the rooms echoed and wouldn't stop screaming. Not a tantrum scream but she thought she was so funny scream. We were so embarrassed because it was mostly older tourists and everyone was so serious at this museum. We weren't asked to leave but chose to do so on our own.  The weather was getting worse  so we head back to the hotel and proceeded to head home.

We had a fabulous time but it was an exhausting trip. We walked so much and tried to jam as much as we could in to each day. Next time, I would like to have a couple more days so we could take our time and have a bit more relaxation time. We just weren't sure how Olivia would behave on her first vacation so we didn't want to be gone long but she did well so we are ready for our next adventure!

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