Travel Guide: Washington, D.C.
Recently I had the opportunity to have a long weekend trip to Washington D.C. I had been to the city a few times, but once was in the freezing winter, and another in the middle of summer.
October is a beautiful time of year in this city, even though we were there during a very rainy weekend. Living in New York, I have the luxury of being able to visit so many cities close by and spend my weekends exploring, but for so long I haven't taken advantage of this! I'm trying to add more traveling to my life while I'm young and in college, and able to take the time for special trips like this.
It's an exciting time for D.C. with the elections coming up, but also with the growingly visible creative and culinary communities. I am so happy I was able to meet new friends, stay at several different hotels, and eat a lot of good food. Please tell me in the comments how you all like these posts, and if you have any great places you love in Washington!
After booking my trip to Washington D.C., I found out my friend Emily of the creative agency and breakfast club Trends on Trends was having an event the same weekend. I'm so happy this was the case, and Uber-d my way over to the other side of the city on Friday morning to a breakfast full of creative people and great food.
Maketto is an innovative space that holds a restaurant, cafe, and dope clothing store. The curated mix of fashion magazines and sneakers greet you when you enter, and straight to the back is the cafe with strong coffee, and large, fluffy pastries.
The soy milk with spicy Chinese doughnuts, and steamed leek buns were the most interesting things on the menu, and I had several servings of each.
As someone from New York who grew up on Italian food, I'm always looking for dishes and service I'll be blown away by. Al Tiramisu blew me away.
A comforting, family-feeling small Italian restaurant, Al Tiramisu was a personal an authentic dinner. After our attentive waiter assisted us in ordering a rich and satisfying bottle of red wine, we ordered a variety of dishes, including the seasonal truffles the chef brought over to our table earlier enclosed in a special box.
The local and seasonal ingredients also went into my polenta with goat cheese and caramelized onions. The highly trained staff was kind and made me happy to be there.
I had no idea there were waterfront restaurants or properties in D.C. Fiola Mare proved otherwise, in the most splendid of ways.
My friend who took me here has a standing reservation for brunch for every weekend, and at first I thought he was crazy, but after dining here I get it. The Georgetown restaurant was the ideal brunch that every city should have. The white leather, and marbled bar paired with Cerulean blue seats and stained wood floors gave a clean nautical feel.
I love a good open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work, and Fiola Mare has a beautiful one. The prix-fixe brunch starts with fresh squeezed citrus and prosecco drinks, followed by beautifully minimal plated courses of pancakes, and flowered runny bowls of mozzarella.
Dessert was homemade doughnuts with a caramel sauce, hence the video above.
Take a Chipotle-style restaurant, take out all of the extra salt and oil, and add raw veggies with steamer baskets and lots of avocados and green things, and you have Beefsteak Vegetables.
This place Instagrams well, and really is good. The José Andrés restaurant is surely a popular location for the local college students and professionals. I actually had the opportunity to speak to Andrés while in the restaurant, who made it clear that Beef steak isn'thealthy, it's crunchy, and flavorful, and fun.
So even though he isn't marketing it as a healthy restaurant, I'm guessing that's why most of the women in Soul Cycle sweats were there.
While staying at The Donovan, I was happy that there were plenty of Starbucks' around my hotel for mid-day iced coffee runs. But I knew there had to be something a bit more delicious as a cafe getaway.
One rainy morning I walked out into Logan Circle searching for a cup of coffee and stumbled into a cafe that would've fit right into the West Village of Manhattan. Dolcezza also had gelato and pastries, and I bought a few of the latter.
Their Stumptown beans created a familiar cup of coffee, and they melted Mast Brothers chocolate into my mocha so I fell in love with this place. Mocha + chocolate croissant in bed = heavenly Saturday.
This is one of those places I always saw on Instagram, and really wished we had in Manhattan. I was able to meet the co-founders of this plant-based taqueria Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern at the Trends on Trends event I attended at Maketto. The seasonal tacos are served at the D.C. farmers markets, and are presented beautifully. Make sure to get the Moroccan Carrots, and add a fried egg!
Located in Downtown D.C., The Donovan is a chic and minimalistic approach to a culture-rich city. From the moment guests step into the doors of the hotel (which are held open by friendly employees), you feel welcomed. The fireplaces and comfy seating make the lobby exciting as your first stop in the hotel. Lobbies are the first parts of a hotel I look at, and when they're good it says a lot about the property. The vibe of The Donovan is the perfect mix of Asian influence and Washington D.C. luxury.
The desk attendants were happy and friendly, even though I got there on the rainiest of days! When I got into my room which was clean, open, and surprisingly big, I was happy to spot a yoga mat and comfy robes in the closet. The bathroom was large with a deep bathtub, and cylindrical shower filled with yummy bath products.
Speaking of that rainy weather outside when I got there... my room also had an umbrella in it. This was a life saver during my journeys out at night! And when I came home, I got into the bath and sat back to enjoy bubbles and the house-bottled cocktails at The Donovan's in-house restaurant, Zentan.
I am so happy I got to spend two nights at such a wonderful hotel, and I would absolutely recommend The Donovan to anyone visiting D.C. who wants friendly service, and a cool, sleek hotel.
Bonus: it's a walk away from FRESHFARM at Dupont Circle, every Sunday, 8:30 am – 1:30 pm.
The main distinction at Sofitel located in Lafayette Square is the luxury accommodations and distinctive French-influenced decor. A large emerald-green velvet couch, and secret libraries fill the lobby. The location borders the White House's property, which makes it the perfect accommodation for sightseeing.
The rooms were small and Parisian inspired. However light-flooded rooms were not short of luxury and comfort. The rain showers, stacks of clean soft towels, and Lanvin toiletries made up the spacious bathroom.
Service was a main appeal of this hotel in addition to the spacious hallways, and decorated rooms. Our concierge made a recommendation for a restaurant, we went, had a few Moscow Mules and lots of bread pudding and enjoyed our rainy weekend.
Although I didn't stay at The Ritz Carlton during this trip, I did get to try their new lounge and restaurant, Quadrant.
The elegant bar is filled with luminous backlit libraries, large seating areas of luxurious plush couches, and small tables for more intimate nights. The various nooks and rooms of Quadrant makes it difficult to choose between the stately large table, and the small corner table near the fireplace.
The cocktail menu is carefully curated with culinary ideas behind it. After speaking to their in-house mixologist, I was blown away by the attention to detail in every aspect of this location.
The classic cocktail menu was also filled with some local-inspired drinks, and backstories on each of the drinks. Quadrant’s lead mixologist, Christopher Mendenhall, finally helped me decide on a bourbon drink with orange and a drenched cherry. It was served on a smoking piece of wood and all of the aspects of it created the perfect autumn drink.
Our waitress was incredible. We ended up being friends with her by the end of the night after she suggested waffle fry nachos (somehow they were incredibly luxe), some spreads, and a homemade Chex Mix.
Hotel bars often get a bad reputation, but The Ritz Carlton knows what they're doing. The moody and alluring bar is the spot where I would want to spend my cold nights in D.C.
Weekend adventures are something I try to partake in whenever I can. Try to find places close to you not only by car or Uber, but my train or bus. Washington D.C. is a beautiful city that goes beyond Capitol Hill and the cherry blossoms. Side note: on a trip to Richmond earlier this year I was able to look at all of cherry blossom from my seat on the train - they are beautiful. Everyone should see them at some point.
Water, water, water: For long plane rides, the number one travel tip I hear is to drink water. But trains and buses are the same! Buy one of the massive water bottles and try to drink it during your long trip to keep your muscles hydrated, and your body feeling better.
- The Air and Space Museum: Most large cities are associated with tall buildings and hectic activity, but culture, history, and art dominate D.C. The Smithsonian has several parts of their museum system, and The Air and Space Museum is one of the most exciting ones, especially at a pivotal time in space exploration! Definitely see one of the 3-D IMAX movies.
- Books: For once in your week, you have time to do nothing while your traveling to where you're going. I just read Luckiest Girl Alive, but Room is also a quick read. Sometimes when I'm feeling really crazy I'll re-read The China Study for the millionth time.
- HotelTonight: If someone asked me my top three favorite apps, HotelTonight would be #3. This app has a clean interface and location services, but the service is what's the most genius. It gives last-minute deals for empty rooms in highly rated hotels. I've used it in New York and other cities and it's great because you see the rooms on the app before you stay, and it's much faster and easier than all the complicated travel sites my parents use. Use the code "ESUNDBERG2" for $25 off your first stay, and be sure to check out their new Escape section of the app that suggests local weekend getaways.
- Take it easy, and appreciate the history our nation has! I personally find myself constantly in a New York state of mind, and forget how many different people and subcultures this country has, and it made me appreciate our beautiful capital.