Warm and historic Washington, DC

Washington Monument

Last week I finally made it to Washington, DC for a quick tour through America’s capital, which was a fantastic introduction to the city, even if it left me wishing I had more time in the great city.

For three days, my wife, daughter and I toured the heart of Washington, visiting some of the museums and checking out the sights, and the weather was wonderful, at least for two of the days.

The first highlight from the trip was the Palomar Hotel, which is near Dupont Circle on P Street Northwest. The property is part of the Kimpton Hotels group, and they could not have been better hosts. The staff are welcoming, and they mean it when they say they’re kid-friendly. Our daughter got real star treatment every day she was there, and I also really appreciated all the little details that were there for the adults too: coffee every morning in the lobby, complimentary wine between 5:00 and 6:00 each evening, and they will bring you almost anything you might need in your room, if it’s not there already.

The Palomar was bright, stylish, modern, and the room had an incredibly comfortable king-sized bed.

Palomar Hotel - Executive King Suite
Palomar Hotel – Executive King Suite

Otherwise, we left our car parked with the hotel and walked or took public transit around Washington. The city is car friendly, of course, but it was a lot easier for the most part to leave the car behind since the core of the city is pretty easy to get around, and parking can be expensive if there aren’t open spots on the streets.

Because we didn’t have a lot of time, we just picked a few key things to see, so we walked down to see the White House the first night, which was really quite impressive. I’ve never been to Washington before, so I didn’t realize how close the fence was to the building. Somehow I just imagined you would not be able to see the building well, so that was a great first stop.

We also checked out a couple of the Smithsonian museums, the National Mall with the Lincoln and Washington monuments, and the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence is on display.

The White House, Washington, DC
The White House, Washington, DC

What amazed me for those three short days was how warm the city was, and I don’t just mean the weather, although it was almost summer-like for one entire day. Almost everywhere we went, people were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and that was not just at the hotel or in the museums–people in Washington just seemed genuinely nice and friendly, and it took us off guard for a city that’s known as the centre of the American government. It’s probably not what most tourists would expect, and it came as a welcome surprise to us.

The city also feels incredibly safe. As the nation’s capital, the government has obviously made sure that the city is safe for everyone, and that’s a unique feeling in a major city.

Lincoln Memorial over the reflecting pool
Lincoln Memorial over the reflecting pool

We also took time to visit Arlington cemetery, which was a remarkable experience, and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virgina, where the Discover Space Shuttle is on display, and I can say that it’s incredible to stand next to the historic ship, especially as a fan of NASA and especially since I’ve been a space nerd for as long as I can remember.

Stay tuned for my reviews from the trip, including of the Palomar Hotel, and a write-up on exploring the culture and history of Washington, DC, and all of the things to discover at the Smithsonian museums. I’ll also have a review of the Palomar’s restaurant, Urbana, which offered a very memorable dining experience.

Moon lander at the Smithsonian Museum
Moon lander at the Smithsonian Museum
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W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.