Justin, the boys and I just got back from a quick trip to Washington DC! Justin was up there for work, so after he was finished with the conference, the boys and I drove up to meet him.
It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from Raleigh, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous about doing that trip alone. We’ve done 5 hour road trips with the boys before, and the boys have always done so well in the car, but I’ve always had another driver.
We left in the morning, and I had easy access to snacks + toys in the passenger seat. We hit a bunch of rain on the way up, which slowed us down a little bit, but David and Luke did great. We made a pitstop just north of Richmond at a mall, but I failed to notice that it was an outdoor mall with no food court. I looked up a few different places to stop, and I think I just got confused about which mall this was.
So, after unloading the boys from the car into the stroller in the rain, I pushed them into the mall hoping for a play place to let them burn some energy. We ended up in the Nordstrom nursing mothers room, eating a peanut butter and jelly that I had packed “in case of an emergency”. They got some wiggles out in there, and I tried my best to just make it work.
We got back in the car and finished the drive up to the Gaylord National Harbor, just south of DC.
We met up with Justin, dropped off stuff in the room, and then took the boys immediately outside to run around. The rain had subsided, so it was perfect timing. National Harbor is like this little town of restaurants and small attractions. We walked up and down the pier, and then found a little playground to play on for a bit. We grabbed a quick dinner, and then headed back to the hotel to start winding down for bed.
Since Justin was here for work, we just crashed in the room he was in. We put Luke in the bathroom in the 4moms pack n’play (this thing is the best, I cannot recommend it enough), and when I say in the bathroom I just mean in the bathroom opening. There wasn’t a door to the sinks, there was only a door to the shower/water closet.
David slept on an air mattress that a reader recommended we buy. We found it at walmart and it was perfect for him. The sides are a bit higher than a regular air mattress, so it kept him from rolling out. He loved the novelty of it, and also was very excited about sleeping in the same room as mom and dad.
He stayed up for about an hour just talking to us, bouncing around, and looking out the window. Justin and I were both laughing in the bed, enjoying David experience this “first”. Eventually, we brought him into our bed and rubbed his back to wind him down, and then told him it was time to go to sleep, and put him back on his mattress.
Both boys slept great, and were awake the next morning at about 6:30a. It’s a little earlier than they normally wake up, but not by much. I was very pleased that they had a solid night of sleep before the big day we had planned.
We decided to use the Metro to get around town, and that worked perfectly. We headed to Ted’s Bulletin for breakfast first, then hopped on another metro line to go to the zoo.
Ted’s Bulletin was good, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little nicer than I expected for a family-friendly place. Also, a bit expensive but we anticipated that. Justin and my meals were large enough that the boys didn’t need their own, and they just ate some of ours. I heard a lot about the homemade pop tarts at Ted’s, so Justin ordered a meal that came with one. We tried the strawberry and it was over-the-top sweet! It was almost too sweet for me, which says a lot because I can handle a serious amount of sweetness. I’m glad we tried it though, and overall I’d say that’s a place to check out just note that it’s not inexpensive.
Next, we went to the zoo! David was getting a little tired at this point, and had a little bit of an attitude, so we didn’t enjoy the zoo as much as I’d hoped.
We did find the carousel and that was very fun. The boys loved it. The zoo is large and on a hill, which we knew beforehand, and we didn’t spend a ton of time here. I think if the boys were older, they would have enjoyed it more, but it was something easy/free to do nonetheless.
Then we hopped on a metro and went toward the White House and the Mall. The boys both fell asleep in the stroller leaving the zoo, and slept through the entire metro ride and about 45 minutes of our walk around the White House.
We brought the UPPAbaby Vista on this trip, versus the UPPAbaby side by side stroller, and I’m so glad we did. The Vista allows both upper and lower seats to rock all the way back, which was perfect for sleeping. There is also a generous sun shade, so that helped block a bit of noise/activity/distraction to help them sleep even better. I think David slept for nearly 2 hours, and Luke slept for about 1.5. We were just going to skip naps and see what happened, so this was a very pleasant surprise. They both needed naps, and were happy as ever when they woke up!
The Monument wasn’t overly crowded, and the boys woke up from their naps ready to MOVE, so they spent a bit of time running around, having a quick snack, while Justin and I sat!
We wrapped up the afternoon with a quick visit to the Air and Space Museum, as we heard there was a fun kid area there. It was great for the boys. It’s geared toward older kids, but they really enjoyed playing and running around in there. Then we crowd-sourced on SnapChat for a place to eat for dinner, and promptly headed over to Good Stuff Eatery.
We filled up on burgers, fries, and milkshakes. We had skipped lunch after a huge breakfast, so we were all pretty famished at this point. And when I say “we”, I really mean Justin and I because I had snacks for the kids with us in the stroller.
Then we hopped on the metro to head back to the hotel. We arrived close to bedtime, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take the kids swimming in the hotel pool. So we quickly got them ready and headed to it.
Luke isn’t really into swimming, nor wearing the puddle jumper like David does, so pool + Luke = holding a squirmy toddler. I was happily surprised to find a small sprayground/splash pad outside the doors of the pool, so Luke and I headed to it while Justin and David swam in the pool. Luke LOVES a spray ground, so he was basically in heaven despite the water being pretty cold.
Finally, we took the boys up, got them showered off, and put them to bed. David crashed much sooner this second night, which we assumed would happen.
During the evening, though, I saw an e-mail come through from a blog reader that offered to take Justin, the boys and I on a private tour of the Capitol and the Library of Congress. We JUMPED at the opportunity, and made plans with Kate (#nametwins) to meet the next morning. We otherwise did not have plans for the day and were going to head home mid afternoon, so this worked out perfectly.
Kate was so kind and made the tour kid friendly. We got to ride on the underground subway that runs between the House and Senate sides of the Capitol, and see really special parts of the buildings. It was a highlight of the trip, without a doubt.
Beyond the fact that we got to experience such a cool part of being in DC, I got to meet a sweet reader that was so generous to give up 2 hours of her day to walk us around the Capital. I was humbled by that, and just felt really grateful to be able to meet such a kind person thanks to the blog. (Kate, if you are reading, I can’t thank you enough!)
After the tour we grabbed a quick lunch at Union Station and headed home. It was such a fun trip, and I’m so glad we went! I’m planning on writing a follow up to this post, sharing a few “traveling with toddlers” tips, if that could be helpful for you.
Justin and I were talking in the car on the way home about making this an annual thing. It’s nice to live close enough to DC to do the drive in under 5 hours, and the older the boys get, the more we’ll be able to do and see!