Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Getting around in D.C.

When we rode the Metro to visit the National Gallery of Art and National Museum of American History, I goofed when trying to buy the SmarTrip Card. The trick is to buy the SmarTrip Card first, then add money to it. Not the other way around.

The metro attendant was very helpful. He wrote up a refund request for me and split the remaining ticket we had into two so that we had enough to get to the National Mall and back.

Taking the Metro is probably the best way to get around D.C. Though traffic wasn’t bad and we were able to find some free parking, the Metro is the least stressful way to go. The Metro is also just as quick as driving.

Plus, as the attendant informed me, $14 will get you a ticket that you can use for Metro rides all day long, no matter how far or how many times you use it. Our trip from Dunn-Loring-Merrifield station to the Smithsonian station was $4.50 each. That’s $9.00 for one round trip ticket. (The tickets would have been $3.50 if I had been able to buy a SmarTrip card. Instead we used regular paper tickets, called Facecards.)

You can also pay for all-day parking at some Metro stations. You can pay to park for pretty cheap (less than $5) and ride the Metro everywhere you want to go. Some stations also have bike racks and metered spaces.

Only bad thing is pups aren’t allowed on Metros unless they’re service animals. Well, I did read online that you can take crated animals onto the Metro, but that would be difficult to do with a 50 lb. dog.

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National Museum of American History Museum, D.C.

The National Museum of American History is huge! We didn’t get to see everything that was there, including a large exhibit on the Civil Rights Movement. We only got to see a portion of it and many others because we only had about an hour and half to explore everything.

The most amazing and emotional artifact we saw was the Star-Spangled Banner. Yes, the actual flag Francis Scott Key saw and wrote about during the War of 1812. It was kept in a dark room, behind a glass. In the background, various renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner” played, including Jimi Hendrix’s famous version.

We also saw an exhibit that featured gowns worn by several First Ladies. From inaugural gowns to campaign outfits, there were dresses to represent most of the former ladies. Chris was sweet and patient to let me spend a lot of time there browsing the different fabrics and styles and admiring how fashion has changed over the years.

We also spent a very long time in the exhibit about the evolution of the food culture in the U.S. It included a complete kitchen donated by Julie Child. The exhibit had a video that played snippets of Child’s cooking show on a loop. I sat through a couple before Chris poked me to move it along.

The transportation exhibit is ginormous. Chris said the exhibit was sprawling. I’m sure we didn’t finish seeing it all, though it was hard to tell. There seemed to be room after room of transportation artifacts. There were boats, school buses, trolleys, classic cars and trains.


There was an exhibit about Little Golden Books. It displayed many of the books published over the years. It was fun picking out the books I remembered reading, such as the “The Poky Little Puppy.”

I would definitely make the history museum a priority to revisit in the future. There was so much to see and we didn’t even get to peek into several of the exhibits, such as a maritime exhibit and history of Americans in war.

Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden is on Madison and 7th next to the Natural History Museum and across from the West Building of the National Art Gallery.

It’s a nice little place to sit and enjoy the art and to grab a bite to eat.

We ate at the Pavilion Cafe one night after visiting the East Building of the National Art Gallery. We both got sandwiches, which were served with a nice, fresh salad with a yummy vinaigrette.

I got a tuna sandwich on a delicious kaiser roll with fennel seeds all over it. Chris got a turkey reuben.

It was a nice break after visiting the National Art Gallery’s East Building. Next up was the National History Museum.

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National Gallery of Art, East Building

After our tour around Georgetown, we dropped Sidney off at the hotel and caught the Metro back to the National Mall area. Our first stop was the National Gallery of Art‘s East Building, which houses the modern art.

Beth and Matisse

There’s lots of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse pieces and other paintings and sculptures. There are also Andy Warhol pieces, mixed media and shadow boxes.

One gallery, located in the tower, also featured a contemporary artist — Kerry James Marshall. He deals with concepts of African American experiences. Marshall’s paintings are very colorful and many contain similar images, such as a red cross. His exhibit was one of my favorites at this museum.

Before we left, we checked out an exhibit called Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes on the mezzanine. It featured lots of beautiful costumes and films of Russian ballets. Lots of rich colors and textures.

I like Richmond’s modern art museum better. It has more contemporary and interesting pieces and I enjoyed it more. The national museum, however, should definitely be on your to-do list. It does contain many good pieces.

Café La Ruche

Café La Ruche is a small French cafe on 31st street in the northwest section of D.C. During our visit to Georgetown, we stopped here for lunch.

Across the street are some quaint buildings.

Neighborhood of La Ruche

The menu features several brunch items. Chris picked out sausage, eggs and a croissant for lunch.

Chris' lunch

I got an avocado and shrimp salad with eggs, beets and onion. We also shared a mimosa.

My brunch

Sidney wasn’t left out either. The owner brought her a bowl of water.


Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

We walked a little ways on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail (C&O Canal Trail) in Georgetown one morning. This portion is known as the Cow Towpath.

Section of the C&O Canal Trail through Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Section of the C&O Canal Trail through Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

We were a little disappointed in the trail. We were expecting a greenway, but  it’s more of a dirt path. It’s a heavily used trail, though. Because of the large amount of bikers, walkers and fishermen, we had to walk single file for the majority of the walk. Chris suggested we walk around the Georgetown community instead.


Georgetown Market

We really like the Georgetown area. It’s very quaint and filled with lots of restaurants and shops. Very walkable. Lots of greenery. Lots of beautiful buildings.

We found Rock Creek Park along the waterfront. There were people boating, biking and walking along the water. Kids played in a water fountain.

The Georgetown Waterfront

The Georgetown Waterfront

Water Fountain

Back on the main streets, we found the Old Stone House, completed in 1766. It is the only remaining  pre-Revolutionary building in the capital. It is also part of Rock Creek Park.

Old Stone House

This house (1766) is the only remaining pre-Revolutionary building in D.C.

The large backyard of the Old Stone House.

The large backyard of the Old Stone House.

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National Natural History Museum, Washington, D.C.

I loved the National Museum of Natural History! We had so much fun visiting it on a recent Friday evening.

Inside the National Natural History Museum.

Inside the National Natural History Museum. After walking the Mall, we moved our car to Madison Avenue so we could spend as much time as we wanted in the museum. We arrived at 5, so had until 7:30 p.m. to browse the museum before it closed.

After walking the Mall, we moved our car to Madison Avenue so we could spend as much time as we wanted in the museum. We arrived at 5, so had until 7:30 p.m. to browse the museum before it closed.

The coolest exhibit was the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code. Chris was surprised to learn that the amoeba had 670,000,000,000 base pairs (bp) but humans only have 3,200,000,000 bp. There were really cool interactive exhibits For example, on exhibit allowed you to click on various body parts and it would tell you the genes associated with that organ or body part. If you clicked on a woman’s breast, it showed the BRCA1 BRCA2 genes that are linked to inherited breast cancer. The pancreas showed genes linked to Type II Diabetes. Very cool.

Chris wanted to go into the Butterfly Pavilion on the second floor, but he didn’t think $6 was a good value for such a small exhibit. The museum seemed to have a nice selection of moths and butterflies, though.

Instead of the Pavilion, we went to see the Insect Zoo, hosted by Orkin Pest Control. Ha! There were lots of tarantulas, beetles, ants and other insects. I really liked the stick and leaf bugs.

Green leaf bug

Brown leaf bug

We also saw the Korea Gallery and Mummies exhibits.

The museum also has the Hope Diamond in the Gem and Minerals section. We didn’t go to see it, but I wish we had. It’s 45.5 carats and blue. It sounds gorgeous!