CultureTravel

What do Scandal, House of Cards, and Bones all have in common? Aside from them making for an absolutely ideal television binge, they all take place in your next daytrip destination: Washington, D.C. This powerful city has been my home for the past four years and I’ve learned that it has much more to offer than architecturally impressive government buildings. Washington, D.C. is teeming with art galleries, farmers markets, and funky neighborhoods waiting to be explored.  Welcome to the Nation’s Capital!

Morning

Good Morning! If you’re like me, you wake up ready to eat, so head over to Ted’s Bulletin in southeast D.C. for breakfast. Known for their homemade pop tarts, this timeless diner-style restaurant serves breakfast all day. I recommended The Big Mark Breakfast comprised of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast, and a pop tart… because why not treat yourself?

After your delicious breakfast, walk just a few blocks and explore Eastern Market, D.C.’s original food and art market. There’s no better way to begin a day in the city than pleasing all your senses by tasting fresh food samples, appreciating stunning artwork and antique trinkets, and smelling the fragrant homemade candles and incense. The market has such a magnetic energy about it that can put even the grumpiest person in a bright mood.

Afternoon

By this time hunger is likely creeping up again which means it is time to grab lunch at Founding Farmers. Beyond satisfying its hungry customers, this friendly hotspot works to support regional farmers by serving sustainably-farmed and locally-grown food. Try their Farmers Slaw Reuben or Creamy Vegetable Bacon Bucatini, both dishes are like nothing I’ve ever tasted and simply delicious.

This afternoon, be a proud tourist by a visiting a few of D.C.’s most famous sites. Because you have just one day in the city, I would pick just two or three you are most interested in. My favorite spots in the city are The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and The National Museum of the American Indian. Take your time at each of your destinations, relishing in its immense history and appreciating its impressive construction. After all, you’re in the heart of America.

Evening

After a busy day in Washington, D.C., begin to wind down with dinner at one of the city’s beloved restaurants. For those looking for a place with a story, try Ben’s Chili Bowl or its neighboring upscale restaurant, Ben’s Next Door in the U Street Corridor. Only differing in their atmospheres, Bens’ celebrates the historically African American presence in D.C., as it’s survived through 1960s race riots and gentrification. The energetic restaurants serve D.C. signatures, like half-smoke chili dogs, and are especially lively on the weekends.

For those looking to try new cuisine, go to Das, and Ethiopian restaurant in the Georgetown neighborhood. Romantically lit with candles on each table, Das serves traditional Ethiopian cuisine consisting of the fluffiest injera (a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture) and a variety of spicy meats and vegetables. I usually get their combination plate, which has injeria with flavor-packed chicken, beef, greens, potatoes, chickpeas, and egg. Don’t forget to order their chocolate cake; something about it is inexplicably magical.

If you still have some energy left, head over to the Dupont Circle neighborhood to people watch at its fountain or browse the series of quaint boutiques and stores. The picturesque area is usually quite relaxing with street performers or live-music at nighttime. Be sure to stop by Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café. Open nearly all hours of the day, this part bookstore, part café is frequented by passionate writers and mysterious-looking intellectuals. If we are being honest, I’ve only ever been here for dessert, but let me tell you, their Rustic Apple Tarts are the only way to end a day in Washington, D.C.

Time-Permitting

If you have time, honor our troops in Arlington National Cemetery, shop in Georgetown, or catch a free performance at The Kennedy Center.

*Hey day-trippers, check out itineraries for Philadelphia and Savannah!

Image: Aysia Woods

Travel

Welcome to the home of the Tastykake, Rocky Balboa, Wawa, and, of course, the cheesesteak… I am taking you to Philadelphia! Growing up, my family and I would travel from my hometown of Collegeville, a suburb of Philly, into the city nearly every weekend to explore museums, eat wonderful food, and check out other hotspots. For you, dear traveler, I have come up with the perfect itinerary to help plan your first day trip to this lively, multi-dimensional city. Welcome to The City of Brotherly Love!

Morning

For breakfast, try one of the Green Eggs Café locations. This trendy, eco-friendly restaurant is dedicated to serving locally produced foods at reasonable prices, while allowing their customers to support the movement by using only recycled paper and dishware. I highly recommend the Smoked Atlantic Lox Omelet or the “Kitchen Sink” (think a skillet of eggs, cheese, potatoes, peppers, biscuits, and gravy everywhere). The portions are rather large, but don’t worry because you can ask for a biodegradable take-out container.

After the amazing meal, you are surely going to want to walk off the food coma. Spend a few hours browsing the collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Located at the end of the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this massive museum holds the most beautiful European, American, and Asian artwork. Don’t forget to run up the museum steps in proper Rocky fashion!

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Afternoon

From the museum, walk through the bustling Center City neighborhood to reach Reading Terminal Market. You’re going to brave some lines and crowds here, but this market is a prime location to eat and browse. The market carries nearly everything you could imagine, from local and exotic produce, Amish specialties, meat, seafood, handmade confections, flowers, to cookbooks and other trinkets. The delicious aromas will make you hungry for lunch here, so head over to my favorite vendor in the market and favorite cheesesteak joint in Philly, Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagie. If this is your first visit to Philly, order a classic and prepare yourself for a serious mouth party. After all, President Obama ate here, so you know it’s good.

By this point it’s time to say goodbye to the market and get ready for a little history lesson. Make your way to Philadelphia’s Historic District, which is full of museums and historic buildings. Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States and birthplace of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Betsy Ross’ home and first American flag. Stroll along the grassy squares and cobblestone streets, making sure to pass by the Liberty Bell, and imagine what life was like while the United States was young.

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Evening

The fun-filled Philly day trip is sadly coming to an end, so it’s time to wrap up with a glorious dinner. There are few options here. For the Francophiles and wine-lovers, try the quaint Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro near Center City and make sure to order the Beef Bourguignon. If that is not your ideal cuisine, right next door is El Vez, known for their funky rock n’ roll atmosphere and tasty enchiladas. Finally for the sports fan, go to Chickie’s and Pete’s, the Philly sports fan’s go-to stop for crab fries. I guarantee after eating at any of these restaurants, you’ll be more than ready to head back home and recoup after a great day of eating and exploring.

Time-Permitting

If you have a few extra minutes to spend in the city, be sure to stroll by the water at Penn’s Landing, shop around Rittenhouse Square, or bike in Fairmount Park.

And there you have it – a whole day of activities for your eventful day trip to Philadelphia. Time to grab a friend and make it happen!

Image: Aysia Woods