Left home at 5:30 and had an easy drive to DC. We decided to go to Arlington Cemetary on the way into the city as Courtney has never been there and I haven’t been there since I was a kid. We got there at 11:30. We walked around for about an hour and 1/2 checking out the changing of the guard, Lee’s house, the Kennedy graves and everything else. It was a beautiful sunny day and nice to walk around after being in the car all morning. It is a sobering place to walk around but the grounds and views are meticulous and beautiful.
After touring the cemetary we easily drove downtown and checked into the lovely Hotel Harrington. Patty P was very generous and we had two suites for just the three of us. Very nice. After checking in and parking the car we went to a sandwich place down the street and split a salad and a sandwich. We were hungry. After lunch we walked a few blocks to the Smithsonian Portrait and American Art Museum which we have never been to before. The museum is the old U.S. patent office and they recently redid the atrium with a unique roof. It is a beautiful spot. The Cleveland Museum of Art is doing something similar in their current renovations. I hope it looks as nice as this does. We explored the museum for about an hour looking mostly at the portraits. You could easily spend hours and hours. The third floor of the museum was particularly interesting as the main lobby was beautiful full of old woodwork, stained glass windows and ornate tiles. It used to be the exhibition hall of the patent office where they displayed the original cotton gin and things like that. There was a terrible fire in the early 20th century that gutted the building. Also on the third floor is the Lincoln Gallery that was the location of Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball – it was the largest room in the city at that time, and is now a contemporary american gallery that has beautifully been redone. Very contemporary, bright, and full of interesting stuff. We both enjoyed the museum and wish we could have stayed longer but we were due to meet Jack back at the hotel.
We met Jack at the hotel with all his stuff. He was living in a hostel for the past couple of days as his lease ended at the end of May. We hopped on the Metro and went to Dupont Circle. We had tickets for the Phillips Collection as Thursday evenings they have jazz in the galleries, cash bars and appetizers and a new Jasper Johns exhibit just opened that week also. We sat in the courtyard when we first got there and had a cocktail and caught up with Jack. We then checked out the Jasper Johns exhibition – not too exciting – and then toured the rest of the museum. On the first floor of the old mansion they had a jazz trio playing, some food and another bar. We got some more beer, and something to eat and did some people watching. Everyone is so young in DC. We went out to a dinner nearby at Firefly – here – and then back to the Hotel Harrington around 10:00. We were tired as we started at 5:00 AM.
Courtney and I got up early, let Jack sleep in and went for a walk around the mall. We walked toward the Capital, going up to the front checking out the pool in front, the big Grant statue and then walking around the balcony on the capital. It was another beautiful day and the crowds weren’t out yet so it was nice. We walked around the botanical gardens, the american indian museum and then back to the Harrington via the mall and 11th street. After getting Jack up and getting dressed we headed to au bon pain for breakfast and then out for the day.
After breakfast we walked to the Renwick art museum which is just north of the White House. It was the first art museum build in DC in the late 1800s. It was originally the Corcoran art gallery which grew out of the space and built a new larger building a couple blocks south. It is a small, intimate museum with great rooms and interesting art work. I liked the large gallery that was set up like the large European art museums with paintings hung all over the place. After spending about an hour in the museum we decided to walk to Georgetown as it was such a nice day. Probably about a two mile walk or so. We checked out a couple of stores in Georgetown, sat down by the waterfront and had a nice lunch. We took the Metro back, still a long walk to the Metro stop though, and took a siesta for an hour or so. Around 5:00 Courtney and I went to the National Gallery sculpture garden as they were having Friday Jazz in the park. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there enjoying the music, the sun and the $18 pitchers of beer and sangria. Again, it’s amazing how many mid 20 year olds there are. It was fun to people watch and drink cold beer. We went back to the hotel around 6:30 to freshen up for our dinner at Graffiato which was fun. After dinner we walked down to the mall to walk around. Courtney couldn’t find a bathroom so she walked back to the hotel but Jack and I walked around the Washington monument and the WW2 monument before going back.
We got up early as we wanted to leave early and drive to Charlottesville for the morning. We packed up and were out at around 8:00 or so and had to navigate out of the city the hard way as there was some sort of race going on and all the streets were blocked off. We made it out with not too much trouble and had a nice drive through Virginia. It took us about two and a half hours to get to Monticello. At Monticello we got our tickets and checked out a couple of the exhibits at the museum while we waited for our house tour to begin. I vaguely vaguely remember being there as a child. It was very interesting to go through the house and hear the history. Compared to Mt. Vernon, where we visted a few years ago, Monticello was much more sophisticated. After touring the house we walked around the stables, kitchens and gardens. The vegetable gardens terraces into the side of the hill were impressive. I’m jealous of their warmer climate where they can grow so many things. After spending about an hour and 1/2 at Monticello we drove to Charlottesville, just a few miles down the road. We had lunch at a nice burger place and then walked around UVA for about an hour. I’ve never been there before. The main quad is pretty amazing with all the little rooms, columns and different buildings. It must cost a fortune to keep it going and going as a university. Much of it was under construction when were there. We walked around and checked out some of the gardens in the back of the buildings that were all connected. Very cool. There was a wedding going on in one of the gardens also. We hit the road around 2:30 or so and drove all the way to Cleveland. It took us 8 hours. Nice trip where we packed a lot of stuff into just three days.
One thought on “Washington DC June, 2012”
That one level on the Smithsonian American Art Museum is very chill and relaxing, same with the Kogod Courtyard.