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Washington DC vacation reruns

Washington DC is a great destination. The museums, history and transportation are fabulous. But when you have visited a city 5 times in the last 7 years, it can feel like your ipod is stuck on repeat.

However, when a friend got press club event tickets featuring Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander book series, and now a series on Starz, I jumped at the chance! We stayed 2 nights at the Hotel Topaz close to Dupont Circle and decided to fly by the seat of our pants for all activities, other than the author event, of course.


Kimpton Hotels are a great group of boutique type hotels that I have stayed in many different cities over the last 10 years. Hotel Topaz is only one of their choices in DC. I have to say that it is my least favorite that I have ever tried, and would not stay there again. Although we were in an upgraded room, the air conditioner had issues our entire stay. The staff was warm and friendly, but the attempt at a zen atmosphere in a hotel with such a small footprint was not successful.

First time visitors to DC usually focus on the most visited Smithsonian Museums and the monuments. And rightly so. You can spend a week doing just that. We needed to fill in the gaps of what we had already done in our many visits to DC. In this 48 hours we visited the National Gallery of Art, took a Segway tour, the Crime Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. One benefit of traveling to the same city again, is that I don’t feel guilty spending 3 hours at dinner enjoying friends. Which we did both nights of this trip.

On the mall, the National Gallery of Art had a tiny (think one display case) of Monuments Men paraphernalia. I had recently seen the movie with my oldest son, who was in Germany with a school group while I was in DC. He’d only been gone a week, but I think I needed a little connection to him while he was so far away. The exhibit was interesting and I didn’t cry about missing my son, so mission accomplished. We wandered around the National Art Gallery, but other than seeing a few famous works, I was a little bored and tired from our early morning travel. I can appreciate the paintings by famous artists, but I don’t have an artistic background and am probably not giving it the credit it deserves.

The Segway tour was a scream. There are several different companies, so we went with Capital Segway. You have to be 16 years old to drive a Segway, so this is a perfect option when you find yourself without kids. I have never had so many foreign tourists take my picture in my life. It made for a lot of laughter too. The tour takes a little less than 2 hours.


If you want to see each and every monument, then this tour is probably not for you. Our guide was hilarious and rarely stopped speaking through his headset which transmitted to earbuds attached to a box we wore around our necks on a lanyard. We saw the Declaration of Independence memorial, WWII, Lincoln Memorial, the  White House, and strolled through the mall. And scooting around on a Segway was just plain fun.

I have to admit I went to the National Portrait Gallery under duress. So many people had told me over the years how great it was. But the idea of walking around looking at old stuffy portraits of people I didn’t know a lot about, did not sound appealing. However, those suggestions from so many different people had stuck with me, so we took the plunge.

Boy, am I glad we took the plunge. We decided to take a FREE tour led by a docent named Madonna.

Yep. Madonna.

She carried an ipad around with her so that she could show photos, books, or other portraits. She made the older portraits seem fascinating by bringing history to life with the stories surrounding the person, artist or setting. Her explanation of how some of the modern portraits of Bill and Melinda Gates and even LL Cool J, were done, really held our attention. They even had a photography exhibit about cool American icons.


Did you know that the 3rd floor of the Gallery was the site of one of Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural balls? You can traverse the main staircase just as they did back in 1876. The free tour lasted a little over an hour, and gives you lots of things to go back and look through on your own.

The Crime Museum was picked by my travel partner. And since she was the reason we were in DC in the first place, I went along with it. It is one of the top 3 visited paid museums in DC. If you are the type to follow trials and crimes on TV then you would love this museum. Let me just say, I do not. The older gangster section of this museum was fascinating, but I was lost during the more modern aspects. It kind of creeps me out that there are artifacts from serial killers, right behind the glass. Who did they pay to get those? It made me uncomfortable. I would definitely not take any children there. I do have a reputation as an overprotective parent, just so you know. I wouldn’t even take my 14 year old. Although the museum probably did it in the most tasteful way possible, It’s sort of like glorifying crime and rubbed me the wrong way.

The very best part of this trip was spending 48 hours with a great friend. I would do the Segway tour and National Portrait Gallery again.  The Crime Museum and National Gallery of Art, I’ll leave for someone else.

In fact, I ended up in DC again the next weekend to accompany Hubby on a work trip. Reruns again!

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