This spring when the New York Botanical Garden announced a new exhibition featuring Dale Chihuly, Rob and I knew we’d be making at least one trip to the world-class botanical gardens in the Bronx to catch a glimpse. Chihuly’s colorful blown-glass work can be described as “breathtaking works of art that dazzle with color, light, and form.” For years, I’ve loved seeing his work at various museums. I first saw a piece as a massive chandelier-like fixture in the lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Then I saw more of his work on display at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. And just recently, Rob and I came across one of his sculptures hanging above the second floor rotunda at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.
We made our first trip to NYBG’s Chihuly exhibition on my birthday when we attended the annual Daffodil and Wine Festival. On that trip, we checked out some of his quirky, gorgeous glass sculptures sprinkled throughout the gardens, as well as the more museum-like display inside the library. We wanted to save the sculptures inside the conservatory for another planned visit! So last Friday night, we took a picnic to the Jazz + Chihuly concert on the lawn of the conservatory and then went inside to see the sculptures with all the greenery and flowers. I had never been through the conservatory at dusk, but it was spectacular. The Chihuly sculptures were all lit up and truly breathtaking.
Whether you go at night or at day, whether you visit the sculptures in the conservatory, the library, or around the gardens, just make sure you go! The Chihuly exhibition is running through Sunday, October 29, 2017.
Washington, D.C. has always been a favorite city of mine. I visited a couple times growing up, I spent a summer interning there, and I visited my sister more times than I can count when she lived there. So when a friend’s wedding in D.C. fell close to our anniversary, Rob and I decided to make a getaway of it. We took a day off work, decided to do lots of new-to-us activities, and planned our days around the restaurants we wanted to try. Keep reading to find out how we spent our long weekend in our nation’s capital, favorite restaurants and sights, and helpful tips when traveling to D.C.
We arrived via Vamoose bus around 11:00pm and checked into our hotel. We popped a bottle of champagne we’d been saving to give our getaway a celebratory start!
We had a leisurely morning at our hotel, The Mayflower. Rob picked up breakfast from Sunrise Cafe right next door. Then we headed to the Renwick Gallery when it opened at 10:00am. The building is a National Historic Landmark, the first built expressly as an art museum in the United States. There are two floors of craft and decorative art, but my favorite was June Schwarcz’s pottery exhibition.
Following an hour at the Renwick, we stepped out and were just yards from the White House. We snapped our obligatory selfie and made our way to the other side of the White House for our lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill. This restaurant has been a D.C. tradition since 1856, and we both loved our meals (the buffalo chicken sandwich for Rob and the French dip for myself).
After lunch, it was time to get ready for the afternoon wedding. We got gussied up at our hotel and then grabbed a car to Capitol Hill Baptist Church. The wedding ceremony was absolutely beautiful, full of emotion, and a joy to witness. We had a couple of hours between the ceremony and the reception, so we walked a few blocks in the neighborhood east of the Capitol. I love this residential area of D.C. and picked out some of my favorite town homes. We also popped into a charming independent book store, Riverby Books, to browse their selection.
Cocktail hour began in the early evening at the Army and Navy Club, right off Farragut Square. It was a beautiful venue and full of history. Dinner and dancing followed — one of the most fun dance floors we’ve torn up :).
We had another leisurely morning and ate breakfast in bed (brought back from Sunrise Cafe again). We walked around our neighborhood and then headed to lunch at Founding Farmers. This was our favorite meal of the trip — we shared the chicken and waffles and added a side of fries (so good!).
After lunch, we switched hotels so we could use points to redeem a free night at an SPG hotel. Then we headed over to the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. This had been on my list of places to visit for a couple years, and the gardens are simply stunning. They reminded me quite a bit of the Boboli Gardens in Florence, and it felt like there were secret gardens and passages everywhere we turned. If it hadn’t been 95 degrees, I could’ve spent hours in this space with a good book. We explored the gardens — finding lots of shade! — and then took a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Georgetown as we made our way to Georgetown University for a walk through the campus.
We continued making our way through Georgetown and browsed the stores on M Street, the main commercial drag of the neighborhood. By then, the heat was getting to us, so Rob suggested the best idea ever: Root Beer and Coke floats at Good Stuff Eatery. It’s been years since I’d had a Root Beer float, but it brought back the best memories of summer fun with my cousins. Not to mention, it definitely did the trick in helping to beat the heat.
After a bit more window shopping, we headed down to the Georgetown waterfront for our dinner at Farmers Fishers Bakers. This restaurant came highly recommended by D.C. friends. It’s a great location, a huge menu, and so many fun cocktails. After dinner, we walked along the Georgetown waterfront all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. By then, the sun had set and the Lincoln looked so majestic lit up at night. It’s such a powerful experience to visit our nation’s monuments and memorials.
We decided to spend Monday by the National Mall. We went to the Hirshhorn Museum for some contemporary and modern art, popped into the Museum of American History for a few minutes, and then went to the National Portrait Gallery. One of the great things about D.C. is that all the Smithsonian museums are free to visit, making bouncing around guilt-free. However, we definitely could’ve spent a lot more time at the National Portrait Gallery. Although we had been to that one before, it’s our favorite museum. It’s a fascinating look at American history through the lens of impactful Americans and their portraits.
After a morning of museum-hopping, we got a leisurely lunch at Zaytinya right across the National Portrait Gallery for some delicious Mediterranean food. After that, it was time to freshen up (again, the heat!) at our hotel, pack our things, and head to Arlington for our bus departure. It was a wonderful weekend celebrating dear friends and making memories for ourselves!
Always, always, always make a restaurant reservation if possible. All the restaurants we ate at are on Open Table, and we got to eat right when we were ready instead of waiting up to an hour and a half for a table.
Walk as much as you can! Walking is always the best way to see a city, get a lay of the land, and find hidden gems.
Look up the city’s event calendar ahead of time to see what free activities you can join (festivals, concerts, parades).
As a follow-up to my post on how to date your spouse, I’m sharing ten of my favorite free dates in NYC. Resources are always limited, so I love seeking out things that Rob and I love to do together and that are free! Whether you live in New York or find yourself visiting, be sure to check out these completely free activities: