We were in DC from June 18-23. I've traveled a lot, and have never been laid so low by the weather as I was in DC these past couple of days. We were intensely affected, and very limited in what we were able to do--even leaving the hotel to head for the Metro and then to air-conditioned museums for the late hours was overwhelming. I wish I could prepare others for the reality on the ground if you are planning a summer trip to DC. But since one really can't, I'll offer some highlights about other aspects of the trip.
Omni Shoreham hotel was fantastic. Beautiful, elegant, clean, extremely family friendly, fantastic pool (HEAT alert!). Sign up ahead of time as a member (you can do this after you book), and get a lot of special treats, especially for children but also including free morning beverages and the newspaper of your choice delivered to the door every morning. Our bathroom was teeny-tiny; I don't know if that's standard for this hotel or not. Given the natural beauty of the setting, the fantastic pool, the overall friendly vibe, and the huge room, we were not disturbed by the tiny bathroom. We got a fabulous weekend rate, and also considered that the $28/night parking wasn't bad for a city. Also pleased to find a small empty refrigerator in the room so we could stock up on beverages and keep them cool.
Loved the Taverna Lebanon near the hotel. Very delicious and friendly and fun, and even the sometimes picky 10-year-old was very happy with hummous and chicken shwarma. Open City Diner was also good for food, but too hot and crowded for our enjoyment. Getting food to carry-out was perfect. Both of these establishments are within 2 blocks of the hotel, and between the hotel and the Metro.
Metro was very confusing for the first trip, and then we we able to grasp the basic system, which is very sensible--just complicated at first with different rates for different times of day, and a surcharge to the rates, which are about to go up again anyway. Cars were clean, trains moved quickly, timing predictions were accurate, and it all felt quite safe.
All the museums are air-conditioned, but it requires a lot of walking to get from the Metro to the museums and from one museum to the next. The mall is huge and hot, and the monuments are far from the museums. Being outdoors was like a blast furnace. Horrible. I had figured to use Metro and my own feet to get around, and found myself without enough knowledge to make other choices given the extreme weather conditions. Should we have cabbed from the Metro to the museums? Would a local bus or a tour bus have been a good option? I hadn't looked into or planned around these question$ ahead of time, and that was my loss.
Museum highlights included the Star Spangled Banner, Julia Child's kitchen, and the Greensboro lunch counter sit-in enactment at the American History museum, and the brilliantly interactive Hall of Human Origins at the Natural History museum. I adored the light happy wonder of the National Gallery East building, and my art-unappreciative child was turned on by the cool LED installation walkway between the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery. The Einstein memorial was super cool, and the Lincoln memorial was super crowded. The Vietnam memorial was marked by special notes, photos and flowers from Father's Day. This is a memorial to those whose lives were taken--no glory to war.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens were too hot to enjoy, even getting there before 9 am. Same for the National Zoo--we saw very few animals and couldn't tolerate the weather, although we pushed to get there as early as we could and well before official opening.
Will post another report about our time in Alexandria. Advance notice--it was hot there, too.