Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Washington, D.C.: Solo Through our Nation’s Capital

Washington, D.C.:  Solo Through our Nation’s Capital  
I Went Because...

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. this year through my volunteer advocacy work with the Alzheimer’s Association. The annual Advocacy Forum in April was an amazing and very sentimental experience for me, as I got to learn about the devastating disease that my father endured. 

Washington D.C.
Sure, I had been to D.C. a few times before. The trips were chaotic, in-and-out-of-town business trips, with little opportunity to get acquainted with the local community. This time, however, I truly absorbed my surroundings — the historical monuments, the government feel, and the beauty of an urban city filled with personal stories.   

Supreme Court in Washington D.C.
The Forum gave me the opportunity to see our government in action and speak with Congressional Representatives and staff in their offices on the Hill. My bonus was that we saw a Senate Hearing in action with the Council on Aging.  I enjoyed walking the underground tunnels connecting these government buildings, and loved observing these people engaged in their daily work activities.  

First, Planning the Trip 

Planning trips is one of my favorite parts of the process. Even with our early Sunday departure, I was glad to have booked a nonstop flight across the country from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. I was fortunate enough to have a clear, sunny day with a view of our country below. The cross-country travel experience left me humbled by the vastness of this large nation we sometimes take for granted.  

Worth a Splurge

Ridesharing services are affordable and convenient. I always hire a private car service going to and from the airport in new, unfamiliar places. After all, this is my time to relax and orient myself. When I arrive, I enjoy the text from my driver as my plane lands, and appreciate when he or she meets me at the baggage claim and whisks me off to my next reveal. This is one convenience I add to enhance the beginning of my trip. 

First Picture I Took When I Arrived - Washington Monument 

Don’t Miss This Place to Stay

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am immune to high accommodation prices. Travel accommodations are a central place to come “home” to for downtime.  Of course, I use my own hotel search website, and I reached out to our Association coordinator for a list of places to stay. My hunt started by plotting suggestions on a Google Map. 

I was intrigued by Woodley Park Guest House, located across the street from the conference hotel. This was close to a two-block shopping area with a drug store, coffee establishments — an absolute must for me, McDonald’s (just in case), and nice restaurants. I chose a room in this three-story guesthouse based on the website pictures and descriptions.

Woodley Park Guest House, Washington D.C.
My cozy writer’s room had a private bathroom and was located on the third floor of a beautifully renovated historic home. Although there was no elevator or television, I enjoyed the complimentary internet access (a definite must for writers/travelers to keep abreast of news and get to know the region). Our hosts greeted us with smiles and friendly small talk every day, and I even received welcomed help with my luggage when I arrived.

My Cozy Writer's Room, Washington D.C.
 Coffee was ready on the landing every morning, and I enjoyed family-style light European breakfasts, as well as wine gatherings in the afternoon to top off the friendly atmosphere. 

I am not a morning person, so I was a bit shy to go downstairs for my first breakfast. That said, I made new friends each morning. I met other people attending the conference from other states, and a number of worldwide travelers.

It is best to reserve six months in advance because there are only a few room types. I enjoyed reading a personal confirmation email the day after I made my reservation. I am used to modern, upscale hotels for business, and I liked this pleasant change of pace. Woodley Park Guest House was a fantastic place to step away from the hectic conference and relax.  

Add Sightseeing to Your Schedule 

I had the advantage of listening to online chats with tourism and blogger friends about Washington, D.C.  There are so many things to do, so it is best to make your own list. A suggestion from a Tour Director friend about Old Town Trolley Tours for day one overview was perfect. My hosts helped me book my ticket. 

Arlington Cemetery, Washington D.C.
 I started out mid-morning on this rainy day to find the first stop. The driver guides were helpful and provided useful city narration. My must-see destination was the coveted Arlington Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the Changing of the Guard. This took three trolley transfers, but eventually I found it! It was very inspiring to watch this moment of silence.  

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery
Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I jotted down my must-sees for my second trip. Luck was with me on this day, and the weather showed a mix of clouds and sun — the sun came out during the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery! 

Cool Souvenirs

I found an adorable charm to make earrings, bracelets, and key chains from my favorite Etsy store (see my side panel) that remind me of my trip when I wear them. Combine with a gem stone or another charm. Keep your travel memories with you! If you need help - leave a comment.

Things I Saw
  • Capital Building
  • Congressional and Senate offices
  • Supreme Court
  • Botanical Garden
  • Lincoln Monument
  • Arlington Cemetery
  • National Mall
Botanical Gardens, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Walk Up the Steps to See Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C.

City Drive Views 
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • Georgetown
  • Whitehouse
  • Ambassador Homes
  • Monuments Overview
My Next Must-Sees
  • Newseum
  • Mount Vernon
  • Georgetown

What is your Must-See in Washington D.C.? I am anxious to read them - comment below.  
Take advantage of every trip by adding an extra sightseeing day! ~ the Fun Tour Guru

Pictures taken by DW - Follow me on Instagram for more views. 

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