In college I was lucky enough to meet one of the most wonderful friends I have ever had, Liz. We met in a spirit organization our sophomore year and became close our junior year of college (not sure why it took that long!). Once we started hanging out more that junior year, she couldn’t get rid of me. We spent all of our studying time and free time together and instantly became a dynamic duo. Since then, we have gone through both of us getting engaged (& then married), many rap battles, graduating, getting our first jobs, and so much more. After graduating, Liz got married and her and her husband Michael moved to Virginia. It was really sad to have my partner in crime who I had spent the last two years with move so far, but I have long distance friendship experience with my other best friend, so I knew we would keep a solid friendship (and we have!). After almost two years since their move, Adam and I FINALLY got to visit them in Virginia. We have wanted to visit for so long, but the timing never worked, so we made it a goal to visit during 2016, and I am so glad we were able to!
We arrived Friday afternoon after an early morning flight out of Austin and a layover in Nashville (where many Goo Goo Clusters were consumed…). We were starving, so Liz took us to an awesome salad place in Crystal City called Sweetgreen. I love a salad place back home called Salata, so I was super excited to try it. Adam doesn’t get overly excited about salads, but he LOVED Sweetgreen and won’t stop talking about it. They have tons of locations around the DC area and we highly recommend it! After we ate, we headed to Old Town Alexandria, where Liz works, to see the area and grab coffee. Old Town is a really cute place with cobblestone streets and tons of cool restaurants and shops. For coffee, we headed to Killer ESP, which has a killer salted caramel latte and a Nutella latte where they give you a spoon full of Nutella (yum!).
We then headed back to where Liz lives in Virginia to meet up with Michael and grab dinner. We had reservations at an Italian place called Ciao Osteria, which is a delicious gem hidden in a strip mall. The food was incredible! It was so good that I forgot to snap a photo of the food. 🙂 After we ate, we went to Liz and Michael’s favorite ice cream place called Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot. Peterson’s is a little stand that serves ice cream and food with a nice outdoor seating area. It had tons of great flavors to choose from and all the flavors we got were super good. It’s also in a really cute area that has some other restaurants and shops.
On Saturday, we woke up very early to head into DC for the day. We took the Metro, which is such a quick and easy way to get into the city. We had a huge list of things to do and see, starting with coffee and a snack at Baked and Wired. I had found this place while researching and read that they had some of the best coffee and treats in DC. It was raining, so we hung out for a little bit with our coffees and wide variety of snacks. We all split a peanut butter brownie, dirty chai cupcake, donut cupcake, and a cheddar bacon scone. All of the goods were delicious, but we all agreed that the donut cupcake won.
Since it was raining, we decided to go to a museum next. What is awesome about DC is that all of the Smithsonian museums are free! We decided on the Air and Space Museum and spent an hour and a half looking around–and losing Adam while he read everything. He was definitely in History teacher heaven this trip. 🙂
After the museum, we had lunch reservations at Founding Farmers, which I had heard about from a previous boss of mine. The restaurant has over 7,500 reviews on Yelp and 4 stars, so we were pretty pumped to try such a popular DC restaurant. Between the four of us we got the Enchiladas & Steak, Yankee Pot Roast, Chicken & Waffles, Tomato soup, and the Chicken Pot Pie. We mostly ate our own, but stole bites from each other. Everything was delicious and we definitely want to go back next time and try more of their specialties.
The weather had cleared up after lunch, so we were finally able to tackle all of the outdoor items on our to-do list. We headed to the White House first, which was super cool to see in real life. Next time we will try to get approved to go tour the inside of the White House.
After the White House we headed to the WWII Memorial, Reflecting Pool, and Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial was super neat! I for some reason thought the statue would be so much smaller than it was.
Our last sight seeing stops for the day were the Tidal Basin and then the National Archives Museum to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. We were lucky to come during Cherry Blossom season and got to see some beautiful Cherry Blossom trees too!
We then headed to the Navy Yard area of DC to see the Nationals Stadium. It’s a tradition of ours to get a photo of Adam in front of every professional sports stadium we come across when we travel, so we had to snap a pic of him (isn’t he just the cutest?!) 🙂
We had walked many, many miles at this point, so we then rewarded ourselves with some ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee. Ice Cream Jubilee was recently on a “Best Ice Cream in the US” list, so as a self proclaimed ice cream connoisseur, I HAD to check it out. Adam got Marionberry and Bold Vanilla and I got the Caramel Popcorn and Cold Brew Coffee flavors. We all agreed that it was some of the best ice cream we have ever had. Their cookies were incredible too. 🙂
On Sunday, Adam, Liz, and myself went to Shenandoah National Park. Adam and I have a goal of visiting all National Parks in the US, so we had to dedicate a day to Shenandoah on our trip. When trying to figure out which trails to do beforehand, we came across Old Rag Mountain and read that it was a “must do.” So we settled on that trail, which is a 9-mile hike with a 2,300 ft increase in elevation. We read that it was challenging, but we had no idea what we got ourselves into until we were on it.
The hike started out easy, but when we hit mile 2 or 2.5, it became full of rock scrambles. The first scramble was absolutely terrifying and required us to climb down between rocks, stand with both feet on a small rock, and carefully get over to the other side. I had a very hard time getting myself to do it and almost made us turn around, but after watching a few people successfully get through it, I figured it was worth a shot. We spent the next hour or so conquering different rock scrambles. Some required us to physically rock climb, some required us to jump from rock to rock, and some required squeezing through small spaces. I wish I could have gotten more photos, but I probably would have scratched my camera on all the rocks. It was one of the most terrifying things I have done, and we got a little bruised along the way, but when we got to the top of the mountain it was SO worth it. The views were beautiful and we enjoyed them while eating some lunch and relaxing. After some rest, we took a much longer, but much easier, route back to the parking lot. We were all pretty proud of ourselves the rest of the day for finishing such a hard hike, especially after being sore from walking around DC the day before.
On our last day in DC, we definitely wanted to sleep in and recover from the 25 miles of walking we had done the past two days. Since we had an afternoon flight, we didn’t have tons of time to do activities, so we settled on getting coffee and lunch. One of my favorite coffee shops, Philz Coffee, which is a Bay Area chain, recently opened in the Adams Morgan area of DC, so we went to check that out. Philz has an amazing Mint Mojito Iced Coffee that I love and wanted Liz and Adam to try. Thankfully they loved it too. 🙂 For lunch we went to Cava Grill, which is basically a Mediterranean Chipotle. It was delicious and I am really wishing Austin had one so I could go again and again.
We were then going to head to the airport, but I saw that our flight got delayed, so we made a pit stop at Arlington National Cemetery. We not only got to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, but we also got to see a wreath ceremony. It was a really powerful place to visit and we are glad that we were able to swing by there.
We had an awesome time in DC and VA and cannot wait to go back and check out different museums and other activities in the area. Our next trip together will be in May to what I consider a second home, Chicago, to visit family. We will be spending a day and night in the city, so stay tuned for some of our favorite things to do when we go to the Windy City!