Our East Coast Adventure: Washington, DC

June 1, 2015
Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC

Ok, friends – this is the last recap of our trip and then I promise to get back to regularly scheduled programming. Before our trip, and even throughout it, more and more people told me they had plans to visit either Philly or DC soon, so I hope these can give you a few ideas of things to do or places to eat!

Last Wednesday, Sarah and I drove from Philly down just past DC to visit J$ in his hometown. We got to hang out with his wife and kids (and snuggle with J. Nickel!) then grabbed lunch downtown and got a few history lessons re: the area from J.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I’m partnered up with him on Rockstar Finance. We talk almost every day, but it was really nice to hang out in person and physically see all the things we talk about. The only thing is… we forgot to take pictures! Ugh! Guess I’ll just have to get over there again soon (and probably get a new tattoo this time, eh friend?). ;)

After lunch, we drove back up to DC and checked into the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, where we found these sweet treats waiting for us.

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown

We went out for Thai food (at I-Thai Restaurant on M Street), which might’ve been one of the healthiest things we’d eaten up until that point…

Pad Thai at I-Thai Restaurant on M Street

Pad Thai at I-Thai Restaurant on M Street

…and then we stopped in at Georgetown Scoops. Oops! (But seriously, how can you say no to cinnamon cookie dough or toasted coconut ice cream!?)

"Cool Treats" from Georgetown Scoops

“Cool Treats” from Georgetown Scoops

We walked along the canal with our ice cream, and spotted all kinds of cute animals in the water, including baby geese and turtles!

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Buildings Lining the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Buildings Lining the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Then we made our way down to the Georgetown Waterfront just in time to see this beautiful rainbow and sunset. No filter needed here. Georgetown is beautiful.

Georgetown Waterfront

Georgetown Waterfront

The next morning, the Ritz-Carlton treated us to their Yoga Brunch package, which includes a private yoga class with their instructor plus a three-course brunch (and bottomless drinks, which I swapped out for lattes). It was probably 23°C/74°F in the garden, where we had class at 8am, and the warmer temps made for an even better workout. That might’ve been my favourite morning of our whole trip.

Yoga Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

Yoga Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown

After that, we checked out of the Georgetown hotel and into the Ritz-Carlton right in the city, where we were surprised with another tray of sweets… with the hashtag we’d been using on Instagram and Twitter! (You’d better believe these didn’t last long…)

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC

Warm Welcome from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC

From there, we headed out for a day of sightseeing… and a pit stop at one of the food trucks for lunch.

Tacos from the Far East Taco Grille Food Truck

Tacos from the Far East Taco Grille Food Truck

The second hotel was fairly close to the White House, so we started our afternoon there. I have to admit: it seemed smaller than I’d imagined. And it was so much closer to the street than I thought it would be. (No zoom was used in this picture. Here’s an aerial shot if you’re curious.)

The White House

The White House

Then we took a long walk (it felt long because of how hot it was, anyway) over to Lincoln Memorial, so we could get this shot of the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

We walked up and said “hi” to Abe, and stayed there for a while so we could avoid the sun. I don’t think I can explain how hot it was that day. Temps reached 34°C/94°F but it was mostly the humidity that killed us. We hopped into any spot of shade that we could, and drank litres upon litres of water to stay hydrated. But after a few hours of walking, we were just beat… so we got into a cab (air conditioning for the win) and went back to the hotel, so we could relax before dinner.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

On Thursday night, we met Amanda for dinner. After years of chatting online and on the phone, it was so nice to finally meet in person. :)

Dinner with Amanda

Dinner with Amanda

She took us to Founding Farmers, which Sarah and I both loved and wished we could’ve gone back to over and over again.

Chicken Pot Pie at Founding Farmers

Chicken Pot Pie at Founding Farmers

Red Velvet Cake at Founding Farmers

Red Velvet Cake at Founding Farmers

After dinner, we walked down to Tonic, where we met up with some of Sarah’s readers and Retire Before Dad. We had a couple drinks there (although my virgin mojito was never brought to me, boo) and chatted about all things blog + work-for-yourself-related, then went back to the hotel and passed out fairly early.

In the morning, we said goodbye to the Ritz-Carlton and checked into the Grand Hyatt for our last night. While it was a little strange to check into a new hotel every day in DC, each one was in a different location, so we got to see a few different areas of the city. The Hyatt was around more tourist attractions, which I don’t normally love, but it was also close to a lot of good restaurants. We grabbed a seat at Le Pain Quotidien and fueled up for a second day of sightseeing.

Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien

Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien

For our last day, we decided to visit a couple of the museums. Thanks to everyone who reminded us that most of them were free (and air conditioned)! We started at the Natural Museum of American History, where we saw everything from Julia Child’s kitchen to Abe Lincoln’s carriage, to dozens of inauguration dresses worn by first ladies over the years and even the original star-spangled banner sewn in 1813. (We weren’t allowed to take pics of that, but it was HUGE.) We ended up spending almost 3 hours in that one museum.

Then we walked down the street and over to the National Gallery of Art, which is currently home to an original oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci. The details in his work are unbelievable. I couldn’t get close enough to capture all the tiny lines and details painted throughout each square centimetre, so you’ll have to take my word for it. :)

The National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art

Ginevra de' Benci by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1474/1478)

Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1474/1478)

From there, we dared to face the heat again, to walk over to the Capitol Building. Worth it? I guess. It was disappointing that it was under construction, but still cool to see. And then our feet were sore from all the walking we’d done, so we hopped in another cab back to the hotel before dinner…

The United States Capitol

The United States Capitol

…which was a feast at Shake Shack. Nom nom nom.

My First Shake Shack Experience

My First Shake Shack Experience

Of all the cities we visited, I have to say that Washington, DC was my favourite. With that being said, I feel like we got jipped with the crazy hot weather. Temps are going down this week, which would’ve made it so much easier to walk and explore more… but what can you do, eh? I’d love to go back in a slightly cooler season and have a few extra days to explore more of the museums (really want to go to Newseum!) and see the monuments at night.

On Saturday morning, we made one final pit stop at Baked and Wired (thank you to everyone who made that reco!) then hit the road. We drove for 4 hours back to NYC, then faced some crazy flight delays and ended up getting home 3 hours later than we were supposed to. In the end, I think we travelled for something like 21 hours that day… a good reminder that it’s not always glamorous! But I couldn’t have asked for a better trip or travel partner.

Soy Latte from Baked and Wired

Soy Latte from Baked and Wired

In sad news, my TOMS did not make it out of our trip alive. I can’t even tell you what happened to them, other than they slowly started falling apart a little more each day… and then this happened. Ouch. This is also a bit of a loss for the shopping ban, as I’m not allowed to buy new shoes until July 7th. Good thing the weather has warmed up here. I think it’ll be sandal season from here on out!

Goodbye, TOMS

Goodbye, TOMS

My Budget for the Trip

When we decided to go on this trip, Sarah and I knew we both wanted to save money wherever possible – but 10 days is a long time to go away, especially to the U.S. when the Canadian dollar is so low. I told myself I was comfortable spending up to $2,000. We’re still waiting for a few credit card transactions to go through and show us what the exchange rate was, but here’s a rough idea of what my total cost added up to:

Flight = $250
Hotels (incl. a couple Wi-Fi charges) = $630
Rental Car/Gas/Cabs = $235
Amtrak = $125
Broadway Show = $138
Food/Fun = $530

Total Cost: $1,908

So, not bad – especially considering that 65% of that was spent on travel-related expenses (flight, hotels, cabs, car, train) and only 35% was on food/fun/the show.

The two biggest costs we saved on were our flights and hotels. I think I mentioned it in the first recap, but we used $350 worth of WestJet dollars + a $99 companion flight voucher to bring our flight costs down to just $250/each. (The voucher is one of the bonuses that comes with the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, which we both have.) And then we were so grateful that the Ritz-Carlton hosted us for 4 nights, and we used Hotwire to book all our other hotels. (You don’t know what you’re going to get but it’s cheaper than most other travel sites can offer you.)

As for food… we didn’t really worry about the cost (or the calories lol). I brought $400 US down with me and only had to use my credit card for a few extra things. So I spent ~$45 US/day on food, which isn’t bad considering we almost always had sit-down meals at restaurants. (And ice cream. There was a lot of ice cream.)

Looking back now, I wouldn’t change anything about our trip. I think 10 days was the perfect amount of time to log-off from the real world and explore a handful of new cities, and I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better travel partner. Over the course of our trip, Sarah and I’s communication went from full sentences to strings of random words to just noises. As Kate says, that means we are now sisters. Sisters who need to go on a serious detox diet and kick our new ice cream addictions. ;)

  • L June 1, 2015 at 4:40 am

    D.C is on my list of places to visit in the U.S for sure. Looks like you had a great time and thanks for posting what sites you used for hotel booking and the price breakdown :)

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 6:32 am

      You’re welcome, L! Now, just to put things in perspective, our dollar is so bad right now that $1,900 CAD = $1,522 USD. So if you’re in the US already, you could do a 10-day trip for less than we did ;)

      • L June 1, 2015 at 8:45 am

        I am also from Canada, living in our national’s capital, so I will also bit hit hard on the dollar. Thankfully, I am driving down with a group and staying at a friend’s so that will cut costs significantly. Thanks for all the info though, looking forward to exploring Philly!

  • Kate@GoodnightDebt June 1, 2015 at 4:58 am

    What a great trip! I’m headed there for the first time in 3 weeks. Fingers crossed the heat wave is over! I’m expecting it to feel a bit surreal when I go, almost like a movie set. I’ve seen so many movies and news reports from DC that it’ll be a bit weird to be there myself.

    Good luck with the detox. I feel a bit heavy just looking at the food you ate! nomnomnom

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 6:37 am

      I bet you’ll have a fantastic time, Kate. How long are you going for? And are you just going to be a tourist or are you going for work/any specific reason?

  • Melissa June 1, 2015 at 5:43 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed my city! There are so many great places to see and eat, many that aren’t THE places to eat and see. Hope you come back soon!

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 6:37 am

      Oh, and you can tell! People gave me so many restaurant recommendations… sooo many! But we were only eating usually 2 meals/day, so it wasn’t easy to tackle that list. ;)

  • Alyssa @ Generation YRA June 1, 2015 at 6:42 am

    What a fantastic trip you had!! I’m bummed to see that your TOM’s didn’t make it, especially since we were just talking about them (I hope I didn’t send any bad vibes to the universe)! Absolutely love, love, love all the food pics. I was curious! There’s a dish that you both had at the Yoga Brunch from the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown that I would love to know what it is. It’s the two food items on a stick in the black skillet with what looks to be a bowl of syrup next to it. That is definitely unique, what was that dish? I think I want to try making that at home. :) It all looks delicious!!

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 6:53 am

      Oh man, Alyssa… I didn’t try that one but it looked deadly, hehe. I believe it was sausages that had been battered/deep-fried!? So you may or may not want that one. ;)

      And you certainly did not send bad vibes! I think they started falling apart in Philly, then just blew up on the way home, haha. Kinda missing them already! But sandal season is definitely here. :)

  • Our Next Life June 1, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Glad you two had a great trip, and especially glad that you loved DC. That weather, though… next time go back in the fall or earlier in the spring. The humidity is ever-present and deadly all summer and often in the months leading up! Impressive, too, how little you managed to spend giving how expensive all four cities are that you visited (though of course the free Ritz nights help — how’d you swing that??).

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Yea, that humidity… and just the heat in general. It was exhausting to walk around in! It didn’t make me like the city any less, though… I just know I want to go back again one day (when it’s cooler). :)

  • Alice @ Earning My Two Cents June 1, 2015 at 7:26 am

    You’re making me homesick! DC is my hometown and its amazing. So glad you got to experience it! Next time you go, you should try venturing to Capitol Hill and go to Dangerously Delicious on H street. It’s an amazing pie shop that had sweet and savory pies. Its near my parent’s house and the first place my hubby and I go when we get into town. Sorry I missed the chance to recommend it before you went!

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Oh no! I’m sorry, Alice. :) And that sounds delicious… I’ll keep it in mind for next time!

  • Rene June 1, 2015 at 7:33 am

    What an awesome way to end a trip!! I can only imagine how many more restaurants you guys wanted to try… it makes me hungry just looking at your yummy food pictures! I was curious though- I know you said you wanted to follow a rough budget of up to $2000, but for example- what if you ended up spending more than you thought you would? (As it tends to happen when you’re on a trip).. I know I definitely am hard on myself for that sort of thing. Would you just deduct it from next months budget?

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Good question… I hope I can answer it! I’d been paying for bits and pieces of the trip for a couple months before we left. On the day we left, my credit cards were all at $0 and I had $400 USD in my pocket – so anything extra I put on my cards would’ve come out of May’s budget. Because I track my spending all the time, I knew I was comfortable spending up to an extra $300 or so without it affecting my numbers too much – and I spent less than that! If I’d spent more, then yes, it would’ve eaten into how much I could save in June… want to avoid that at all costs!

  • Jason @ Phroogal June 1, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Sweet trip (get it… ’cause all the ice cream… lol…).

    Thanks for posting so many pics! What camera do you have?

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Ha, love it! And I just used my iPhone 6.

  • Giulia June 1, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Lovely pics, food seems delicious and I think you had great time…

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      I sure did. Thanks, Giulia! :)

  • Dawn June 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Loved this post! Wrote it all down, and will check out as much as I can next month. Not looking forward to the heat – but excited to spend July 4th in Washington, DC. (btw – ruined shoes seems like maybe an emergency – it’s not like you’ve got a closet full of them, right?)

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Fourth of July – that’ll be fun! And no, you’re right… they were the only pair I owned. But I still want to push my boundaries and just see if not having them for 5 weeks is tolerable! It’s certainly not an emergency. Think I’d feel better getting myself a new pair when the ban is over. :)

  • Steph June 1, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Glad that you liked DC! though hear ya on the weather. Really not loving that it’s already so warm this season… I am not made for the hot, humid weather (originally from Wisconsin).

    And sad to see your poor shoes!! Guess that means that they had a good life? Kudos for sticking to your shopping ban, though. When you’re ready to look for new a new pair, maybe check out Indosole. From what I can tell so far, they are also a fairly socially responsible brand as the shoes are hand made by local workers overseas using re-purposed tires as soles! A lot of their styles are cute, and the Kelapa is close to the TOMS design. Liking them so far.

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      I’ll definitely check those out, Steph! I’ve also been looking at getting Sanuks instead. My sister works at a surf shop in Victoria, so I could get them at discount… and they look so comfortable!

  • Revanche June 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I think you answered my tweeted question about the Ritz in the post, very neat! I would have sworn that you were given treats from Christopher Elbow (my current absolute favorite fancy-dancy chocolatier) at the D.C. Ritz but it looks like you might have discovered yet another fabulous chocolate supplier. If you happened to get a name, I’d love to know who makes those gorgeous things!

    A shame about your poor Toms – they look beyond repair, aren’t they? (I had a similar mishap when I did my NY-Philly-DC trip a decade ago AND in San Diego, now I’m always a bit nervous about only traveling with one pair of shoes lest I have to pay full price for a new pair.)

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      I don’t have a name, but I can probably ask! They were all so delicious – and totally unexpected. A real treat. :) And yes, I threw the TOMS in the trash when I got home… sad! I’m thinking of switching to Sanuks, as I think they’ll last a bit longer than TOMS do.

  • allroundbetterme June 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    That’s very sad about the Toms, but you’ll be able to replace them soon enough…

    What an amazing trip you had! Your photos and posts from the whole trip have been waking the travel bug inside me big time! And all the food… mmmmmm…. Your budget for the trip was also quite impressively low. Inspiration for me as I am working with my fiance to plan our honeymoon right now…

    • Cait Flanders June 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Nice! Where are you planning on going? :)

  • Leslie June 1, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    I just had to reply about those Tom’s! It is just as well, Cait. When I was a week away from giving birth, those flimsy shoes, although very hip and social justice-minded, were so unsupportive that I toppled over, broke my foot–a Jones fracture–and I had to have emergency surgery and a four month recovery time. Plus now, even a year later, I still feel pain every time I walk. A supportive pair of shoes would have really helped me, my doctor said. Sorry the shoes broke my I am hoping and praying that it will save you a broken foot!

    • Cait Flanders June 2, 2015 at 6:11 am

      Whoa – that’s so intense, Leslie! And while you were pregnant, too. :( I’m glad you’re ok, but I know all too well how awful chronic pain can be. Thank goodness it wasn’t worth! I’ll remember that story, for sure.

  • Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents June 2, 2015 at 5:03 am

    OMG those dessert trays look divine. Sounds like you had a great trip!

    • Cait Flanders June 2, 2015 at 6:12 am

      They were amazing… and now I’m 5 lbs. heavier, haha.

  • Savannah June 2, 2015 at 10:59 am

    I loved this series of blog posts! DC looks unreal!

    • Cait Flanders June 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      It was so beautiful! And there was lots of good food there. :)

  • Michael June 3, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I love your Blog since I discovered it couple of months ago in an Austrian newspaper. As I love traveling myself I am glad that I’m not the only one for whom food takes such a big part in the whole travel experience. Looking forward for your future trip reports.

  • Cedes June 4, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Looks like you had a great time in DC! There is so much to do around here that just can’t been seen/done in the span of a few days. I’ve lived here for 20 years and know I still haven’t seen everything!

    Thanks for all the great re-caps of your whole trip too, they have given me some great ideas for when I travel up the east coast!

  • Leanne June 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

    All the food you ate in DC looks blooming amazing. If I ever make it there I’ll be sure to check out some of these places x