If you were given 24 hours to show someone who has never been to America around DC – where would you take them?
Three weeks after moving to Metro DC, I was given this daunting task. Talk about a lot of pressure for a new DC resident; I was still just learning the city for myself! However, I was more than happy to take on the challenge…here’s why…
For those of you who don’t already know me, I’m a quarter Japanese. Although some don’t believe it, I have an amazingly adorable Japanese Grandmother and many other Japanese relatives that still live in Japan to prove it. One of those relatives is my cousin Saya.
My Grandparents told Saya many years ago, that if she learned to speak English, when she graduated high school she could come visit us in America – and that’s exactly what she did. As soon as I heard she would be in Virginia, I was thrilled at the opportunity to meet one of my relatives and show her around my new city… it was also a great chance for my little sister, Laura, to come for her first visit… and so our 24 hour adventure began…
The Visitors Arrive – Wednesday @ 1:35 pm
Stop 1: An “American” Lunch
Saya requested that while in DC we eat as much “American” food as possible. Since I was meeting my visitors in Arlington, I could think of few locations more “American” or delicious than Rocklands BBQ.As you can tell by the picture, Saya enjoyed every last bite of her American meal and my sister was left stuffed (she also hates me for posting this picture of her haha).
Tourist Tip 1: In Arlington on a Monday for Happy Hour? Rocklands has my favorite HH deal in town – buy a beer…get a bbq sandwich free. Brilliant.
Stop 2: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - 3:05pm
When it comes to museums – We are spoiled in DC. There’s a museum for just about everything. Each is filled to the brim with irreplaceable pieces of our Nation’s history, fascinating stories, ancient artifacts, breathtaking art or automobiles and flying machines from our past and future. With all these choices, I thought a museum would be a great start for our tour of DC…That and it was 98 degrees outside and we were desperately seeking air conditioning.
As we navigated our way off the metro and up Madison Drive, I saw Saya’s eyes light up with delight at the magnitude of the buildings surrounding her. When we entered the Smithsonian, the giant elephant prominently displayed in the entryway greeted her, like it had countless other visitors during its 51 years in the museum. We spent the next few hours wandering the halls in awe of giant dinosaur fossils, blinded by glistening jewels and laughing at creatures we could hardly believe once walked our earth. A few hours later, Starbucks “snack” in hand we were headed off to our next destination.
Tourist Tip 2: Although it might seem weekday visits to a museum would be less crowded, remember that school groups take field trips during the week and can cause the museum to be just as busy. Try getting to the museum as early in the day as possible to beat the crowd.
Stop 3: Georgetown – 5:18pm
No trip to DC, would be complete without a little shopping, at least not for three fashionable girls (apparently an appreciation for shopping IS in our genes and it comes from the Japanese side of our family), so we took a break from the historical portion of our tour and headed to Georgetown for a much needed retail fix.
We walked up and down M street stopping at all the designer boutiques, and souvenir shops helping Saya find the perfect American treasures to take back to her friends and family at home. We of course went to Georgetown Cupcake (I’ll write more about this in a later post) and got six brightly colored and equally delicious cupcakes to try for dessert later that evening.
For our “American” dinner we headed to “Farmers & Fishers” on the Washington Harbour – one of new DC my favorites. We were happy to be joined by my incredible friend Jon, who graciously drove my guests to DC from Richmond. (Jon plays with the band Carbon Leaf– do yourself a favor and check them out – they’re amazing!) We had the calamari and hummus for appetizers and Saya chose a very “American” pizza for dinner, while Laura and I split the clams, garlic, bacon & linguine dish and Jon had the “Cowboy Chicken”. All of our meals were delicious.
We completed our first day sightseeing with a sunset cruise of the Monuments along the Potomac. If you have a couple of hours to spare, I highly recommend this; it’s a relaxing way to learn a little about the history of the city, all while enjoying a beautiful sunset and unique views of the monuments.
Tourist Tip 3: If you go on the cruise in the spring or summer, take the 8 pm boat ride – it was perfect timing to catch the sun setting over the Potomac on the way out and have the beautiful night sky as a backdrop during the return journey.
Day One – Complete.
Day Two - Post Coming Soon!
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