Our Only Full Weekend in DC

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account of our weekend (our lives are not anywhere near that interesting), but I am going to hit some highlights. Like how on Friday morning, Weston and I met a friend and her too cute for words son at National Harbor.


 National Harbor is a collection of restaurants, shops, hotels, offices, bars, clubs, and a marina that opened in 2008. While walking around, I felt like I was in one the new urban mixed-use developments that have been popping up over the past 10 years, such as Birkdale Village in Huntersville, North Carolina (outside of Charlotte).

The little guy and his new friend enjoyed pushing their strollers on a map of DC and sharing their beloved toys. We walked around the marina and talked about a variety of topics, enjoying the gorgeous weather. And while I certainly found National Harbor beautiful, I’ll admit that I found it a bit disjointing. Maybe because the architecture in The District is so classic and hundreds of years old and everything in National Harbor is so new and shiny. Such is life in an older city though – the old and new have to coexist. I do appreciate that the National Harbor designers didn’t try to make the buildings look old – I very much dislike when new developments that try to recreate 18th century charm. So bravo to the National Harbor architects.

We popped into Ketchup for brunch because our stomachs were growling and not many other places were open yet. I had a small stack of pancakes with some crispy bacon. While nothing special, it got the job done and I left satisfied. After brunch, it was getting close to nap time so the little guy and I headed back to base so I could prepare for the arrival of Megan, Mike, and Mikey.

I signed them into base mid-afternoon and we walked to Bolling Green park to watch airplanes while Clay finished up work. When he was done, we headed to Old Town Alexandria and ate dinner at Columbia Firehouse. Oh. My. Gosh. It was the best restaurant meal we’ve had during our trip so far and honestly, the best meal we’ve had in a long time. I can’t recommend it enough.

We started with a steamed kettle of Prince Edward Island mussels served with tomatoes, capers, garlic, parmesan, and white wine, and an order of crispy buttermilk onion rings with smoked mayonnaise and buttermilk goat cheese.

Clay and I opted for the fire house angus burger with tillamook cheddar, bacon, red onion, and firehouse sauce. We chose some vinegarette dressed field greens instead of fries and didn’t regret our decision one bit. In fact, the salad was one of my favorite aspects of the meal – the house dressing was light and tangy with just the slightest hint of bitterness. It was perfect.

Megan ordered the local oyster po’ boy with crispy dragon creek oysters, bibb lettuce, tomato, and remoulade sauce.

Mike had the buttermilk fried chicken breast with slow braised kale, house bacon, cornbread, and pan giblet gravy. Again – if you’re ever in Old Town Alexandria, check out Columbia Firehouse. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

On Saturday morning, we rode the metro to The District and checked out the Museum of Natural History after grabbing bagels at an Au Bon Pain with the rudest staff we have ever encountered.

After the museum, we walked around the mall and sat down on the grass to escape the Girl Scouts. You see, the one weekend we had free to explore the city, the Girl Scouts had their Rock the Mall event. This means that over 250,000 Girl Scouts and their leaders, families, etc.. infiltrated the city and made it impossible to walk around without tripping on a giddy pre-teen girl and her fanny-pack wearing leader. Add in the 90+ degree heat, and it made for a fairly miserable outing.

We tried to make the best of it though.

The closest thing to a family picture we could get with a toddler boy who refuses to sit still.

We walked down to the White House next because we were committed to being the ultimate tourists that day.

The Petrylak family.

{#10 is now crossed off the 35 in 250 list}

The boys.

I love the fact that Americans can protest freely in the street in front of the White House. Our country really is amazing.

That afternoon, we headed to a DC suburb in Virginia for a backyard barbecue at the house of a former soldier who served with Clay up at Fort Drum. Another soldier from the unit was in attendance so the three guys had a blast catching up – it had been about 5 years since we last saw each other.

On Sunday morning, we went to the Bolling Club Champagne Brunch. Established in 1934, the Bolling Club is one of the oldest and largest clubs in the Air Force. The brunch was held in the Washington Dining Room and featured too much food to list here. My vegetable omelet was one of the best I’ve ever had while Megan and Clay reports that the eggs benedict were TDF (to die for). After brunch, our visitors headed back to Pennsylvania while we relaxed and let the little guy nap. We went to Arlington, Virginia for dinner at the home of some friends and let me tell you, I was completely charmed by their townhouse. I would move in tomorrow if I could.

So that was our weekend. By this time next week, we will probably be back in Oklahoma so we still have quite a bit of things to cross of our list while we’re here in DC. Time is a’wastin’.


6 thoughts on “Our Only Full Weekend in DC

  1. I love Columbia Firehouse. DELISH!

    Go easy on National Harbor. That is my dad’s “baby”. His life for about the last 10 years. 🙂 It is hard to compete with Old Town and DC from a new development perspective, but they tried to bring in some of the old tradition (The Awakening statue, all of the local art) and national nods (restaurants from different parts of the country)… Plus, there is water taxi service to Old Town and Nationals Stadium. They know they can’t compete with Old Town’s charm, so they are just trying to serve as a different kind of venue for shopping, eating, and entertainment.

    Believe me, my dad lives for old walkable communities. He looooves where I live in Norfolk. But as a developer, he saw a huge gap in that kind of venue close to DC. Plus, it brought a lot of tax incentive and jobs to PG County – something that nobody else wanted to do.

    1. I think National Harbor did it right! They didn’t try to recreate what already exists in DC, which I think is a good thing. Plus like you said, it is nice to having something of that caliber on the other side of the river. Believe me when I say that I was impressed. 🙂

  2. So much fun! We’ve never been to Columbia Firehouse and while reading your review, I was thinking “we should go there this weekend.” Then I realized we don’t live in VA anymore. Slap in the face! Ha! I love that you guys are out there soaking up every second of one of the greatest cities in the US and not wasting any time.

    P.S. We’ve been to Ketchup and with our order of fries, we received like 12 dipping sauces. AWESOME! And with the Peep Store just a few doors down, well, the National Harbor definitely sat well with my taste buds 🙂

  3. Why are you tempting me with pictures of pancakes when you know I’m trying to go cold turkey? 😉

    AND I love that you were able to get pics of the boys by strapping them into strollers. That is one way to solve the won’t “sit still” issue.

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