Two winter days in D.C.

By Caitlin Kelly


I’ve been coming to Washington since I was a child, since some cousins lived nearby whose father was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service.

I finally saw the inside of the White House in the year 2000 thanks to my husband, who served eight years in the White House Press Corps as a New York Times photographer — and even got us into the Oval Office for a quick peek.

Here’s a list of 8 semi-tourist-y things to do, there, written by a travel writer.

As usual, I was a very bad tourist so my post won’t extol all the usual sights, but some more personal pleasures.

We started our Saturday at a D.C. legend, the bookstore Politics & Prose, which is a treasure!

We could have spent hundreds of dollars and many hours there; I was researching the competition for a potential book idea and picked up a great present for Jose. I loved dropping my pile at the information desk where they laid atop it a bookmark “Customer Shopping” to make sure they didn’t get re-shelved. The staff was plentiful and helpful, and we picked up Christmas cards as well.



Then I dropped into Goodwood, one of my favorite stores anywhere; picture a smaller, hipper indie version of the American chain Anthropologie, with a mix of well-priced vintage lighting, decorative accessories and furniture with great new clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories.

They had a pair of gggggggorgeous camel colored Prada knee-high boots for $165. If only they’d been my size! I scored a pair of burgundy patterned tights, another present for Jose, a black mohair sweater and a silk jacket. Splurge!

The store has been in business for 33 years, a huge accomplishment on its own. It’s on U Street NW in an neighborhood that has massively gentrified — head around the corner and a few blocks down 14th street to Ted’s Bulletin for a fun, fab lunch.



We met old friends for lunch at yet another D.C. institution, Clyde’s, and settled into a deep, comfortable booth to catch up — three photographers and a writer made for plenty of good stories and industry gossip. The service was excellent, the food delicious and the cocktails perfect. The interior, filled with paintings and enormous palm trees and dark wooden blinds filtering the November sunshine, offered a calm and pretty respite from holiday crowds.




On Sunday I went by Metro and bus to Georgetown, an elegant and historic enclave filled with narrow townhouses and herringbone brick sidewalks. Here’s a list of 16 things to do in Georgetown — including (!) seeing the steep staircase featured in the terrifying film The Exorcist.




I ate lunch, enjoyed a terrific gin & tonic, and wandered.

The best shopping? There are many great options, but check out  The Opportunity Shop at the corner of P Street and Wisconsin Avenue, with two floors crammed with consignment goods. Because D.C. is a town full of affluent and well-traveled people, the merch is amazing and prices reasonable — everything from a fuchsia silk Moroccan caftan ($85) to Asian pottery to sterling silver cutlery to Waterford crystal to prints and rugs.

Best of all, the proceeds go to support 5,000 needy children in and around the city.




The area’s side streets are stunning, house after house from the early 1800s; in 1967 the neighborhood was designated a National Historic Landmark district and it was founded in 1751. If you love architecture as much as I do, make time to walk slowly and enjoy!




I climbed steep 32d. street to Dumbarton Oaks, a stunning mansion that was once a private home and is now a small museum with an eclectic mix of pre-Columbian art and textiles, Byzantine art and textiles, ancient books and a legendarily lovely garden. Like much of D.C.’s attractions, admission is free.

I went to see a small show of paintings of women, and loved most the Degas oil of two of his relatives, two women singing to one another, on a visit to New Orleans.

It was a perfect weekend!




Have you been to D.C.?


Do you have a favorite spot there?


16 thoughts on “Two winter days in D.C.

  1. I have been to DC and have seen the White House (was a guest of Ted Kennedy in order to sit in on a Senate session – he didn’t know me but signed me in), but this was a long time ago now. It was a great visit.

  2. it sounds wonderful. i love the city and it’s surroundings. one of my daughters went to george washington, and i have an uncle in great falls, va., so i’ve had opportunities to spend time in the city, but have gone back often enough. i love the stores you described, along with the treasures you discovered. sounds like a great couple of days.

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  4. D.C. sounds great! I’ve never been but will add it to my long list of places I’d like to visit one day. Transatlantic travel is expensive so it might have to wait a while though…

    Glad you had a great time. And I love the cat photo, by the way. Tabby cats are my favourite! 😊

  5. What a great trip! Your story makes me want to get back there and spend more time exploring.

    The Exorcist stairs! I’ve only been to DC once, back in the 90’s. We stayed in a hotel across the river from Georgetown and started our first day with a walk across the bridge in the morning mist, a bit of wandering around campus and then up those stairs. Then walked all the way to the Mall. The Hirshhorn Museum was my favorite.

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  7. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to DC. I really enjoyed the Smithsonian museums and the monuments. I also remember the steep escalator at Dupont Circle. I’ve got this phobia of heights. I held on to that escalator with a death grip.

  8. I went to DC back in 8th grade, years and years ago. One of these days, I have to go back, and get into the White House this time (we were supposed to go when we were there in 8th grade, but the Bushes picked that particular week to put up the Christmas trees, so we weren’t allowed to go in. It gave me another reason to just dislike the Bushes, LOL).

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