D. C. Day Trips

Published: September 22nd 2014
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For those of you who have been following along on our explorations of the D.C area, you’ve learned that we frequented many of the political bars, explored museums and monuments….but you might be asking yourself what else there is to do in the area. The answer is….plenty.

Mount Vernon and Monticello

The northern Virginia area was once home to two of America’s earliest and most famous presidents, and their estates are worthy of a look if you’re a historian or just merely want a glimpse of what colonial life was like for wealthy land owners who were also politicians.

Short day trips from Washington D.C. will have you enjoying the estates of President Washington and President Jefferson. More often than not, they are referred to as plantations. Washington as most people know, was our first President from 1789 to 1797 and his estate is named Mount Vernon. Washington is well known for being the Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and also signed the Jay Treaty to normalize trade relations with Britain. Jefferson was our third president from 1801 to 1809 and was responsible for the purchase of the

Thomas Jefferson's Plantation
Louisiana Territory, which essentially doubled the size of the United States. A true renaissance man, he was very proud of his home Monticello, having participated in the design. The home sits on a hill and gives from pretty cool views of the surrounding region.

These two homes were similar in that they were on several hundred acres of ground. That is where their likeness ended. Mount Vernon is a quaint farm setting on a hill on the Potomac River. There were awesome views from the home and stunning views of the home from the water. Monticello is a rather stately affair. Jefferson may have fought for the slaves but he owned more than one hundred. The whole history of slavery in these times is addressed fairly well, and there is no attempt to diminish the effects of this sad part of American history.

Jefferson may have written the words that “all men are created equal,” but this certainly was not the case when you consider the number of slaves on his plantation. Even thought the labor costs were quite low, he was not a good businessman and squandered most of his money. Although you
Lovely homesLovely homesLovely homes

Alexandria, Virginia
could say he was a bit of a hypocrite, he pushed forward some progressive legislation. Another example of “do as I say, not as I do.” We can’t say we liked one estate more than the other. If you’ve visited many famous homes in Europe you will find these two homes rather small and simple. This is primarily because of limited construction materials and also the fact that almost every furnishing had to be imported from Europe at that time.


If you find yourself in the D.C. it is worth the time to visit the Alexandria area if time permits. It was a vital seaport during colonial times but now it is a neighborhood, newly gentrified, with a great deal to offer. It is a rather upscale neighborhood these days full of red brick homes, pubs, restaurants, candy shops, quirky clothing stores, quaint shops, historical homes and museums. Some of the locals are probably not terribly pleased how upscale part of the town has become, but it still holds some charm with the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture.

Major and Minor League Baseball

Anyone who has followed
Zephaniah Farm VineyardsZephaniah Farm VineyardsZephaniah Farm Vineyards

Leesburgh, Virginia
our blogs knows we can never resist an opportunity to take in what used to be called the national past time. American football is more popular know, but baseball has that wonderful summertime pastoral feeling that we both like. Whether you go to a modern major league ballpark in Washington or venture up in northern Maryland to see a minor league game, it’s always worth the effort. Get yourself a hot dog and cold beer, then sit back and take it all in.

We saw the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles play in their stately environs, while also venturing to small towns like Hagerstown and Woodbridge, where a few thousand gather to see fuzzy-faced ballplayers living out their fantasy of playing a boy’s game for money. Most will never get anywhere close to being a big league player, but these are the boys of summer……we enjoyed the games and hope you will enjoy our photos.

Virginia Winery

Having lived in Sonoma Valley and near Napa Valley we thought it was important to check out the local vineyards. We stopped by Zephaniah Farm Vineyards and had a fine time tasting local wines
Tavern AleTavern AleTavern Ale

and visiting with the owner. Pretty darn good wines at that! We do wish we had more time to explore more wineries, but hey, we’ve only got a few months here. All fifty of our states have wineries now (this seems a bit scary), but some Virginia wineries are doing fairly well in the big scheme of things. It’s a very competitive industry and there are numerous small operations that manage to put out a fairly good product.

Friends and Family

Just a few miles away from bustling Washington D.C. is Annapolis Maryland. This town has a very New England feel and is high on the cute factor. It is a small town, much smaller than you would expect. The waterfront is attractive and Annapolis is of course, home of the U.S. Naval Academy. We even got to visit with a high school classmate of Dave’s while there and he was kind enough to give us very nice tour of this historic town.

One weekend we went back to Pittsburgh, PA to visit our old next-door neighbors Ralph and Marie when we lived there a few years back. Now don’t get the impression that Ralph and Marie are old…it’s just an expression that they are our old next-door neighbors. We were happy to see our old house in good shape and the new owners had made some nice improvements. Later in the summer Ralph and Marie came to the D.C. area because Marie is on a competitive dragon boat team. These folks are amazing and are quite competitive. They were competing in the area so we needed to go and cheer them on. It was a rather gloomy day but it was good to see Marie and her team in action on the Potomac River.

MJ’s cousin Rene and her husband Gary rode their bikes on the trail from Pittsburg to D.C. this summer so it was great visiting with them while they were in the area. It’s quite a long trek, but they had a great plan and the weather seemed to cooperate. 335 miles of biking takes a fair amount of commitment.

The best man at our wedding Chuck and his lovely wife Birdie came to visit. Always good times with them...Non- stop conversations and laughs. We especially enjoyed a pitcher of Bloody
Washington NationalsWashington NationalsWashington Nationals

Great American Ballpark
Mary's at the P.O.V Roof Terrace at the Washington Hotel while we solved world problems and talked about travel.

Our niece Lauren and her husband Pete came to visit and we explored the D.C. waterfront and Alexandria. Such a beautiful section of the city. Always great when family wants to come visit us. Lauren was a few weeks away from delivering their first child and I think she had more energy than any of us.

D.C. was a good spot to meet a couple of travel bloggers while they were in the area. We had a nice dinner at Cafe Nora with Readingfcboi If you are in the area and looking for a nice restaurant we can recommend this one. We also had the pleasure of dining at the Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria with Roosta. The great thing about meeting fellow travel bloggers is you always know where the direction of the conversation will head. We never run out of things to talk about.

One of our favorite things while in D.C. was visiting with our good friend Andy. We don’t get to see enough of him and probably never will.

Full of American History
He is a wonderful man in every sense of the word. A great sense of humor and a heart of gold. We need more Andys in this world. We really enjoyed meeting his sister Sarah. We will miss seeing him.

So there you have the rest of the D.C. story. Yes, we’ve been extremely busy, but there is so much to see and do and somehow we knew there wasn’t enough time, so you’ve got to make the most of it. We feel we did pretty darn well…….

Additional photos below
Photos: 35, Displayed: 27


Vineyard or Tasting RoomVineyard or Tasting Room
Vineyard or Tasting Room

Which direction do you think we went first?
Top ChefsTop Chefs
Top Chefs

Dinner cooked by Marie and Ralph in Pittsburgh
Dave, MJ, Ralph & MarieDave, MJ, Ralph & Marie
Dave, MJ, Ralph & Marie

Enjoying Pittsburgh
Preparing for the racesPreparing for the races
Preparing for the races

Dragon boat races in D.C.
The Paddlefish competeThe Paddlefish compete
The Paddlefish compete

Washington D.C.
On the Big ScreenOn the Big Screen
On the Big Screen

Venue difficult to see the river so they show the race on the screen.
Hagarstown, MarylandHagarstown, Maryland
Hagarstown, Maryland

Minor league game with a rainbow.
Mount VernonMount Vernon
Mount Vernon

George Washington's Plantation
From the Potomac RiverFrom the Potomac River
From the Potomac River

Mount Vernon....such a lovely setting
Hanging out with our good friend AndyHanging out with our good friend Andy
Hanging out with our good friend Andy

Always a pleasure to be in his company
Dave at MonticelloDave at Monticello
Dave at Monticello

Back of the house

22nd September 2014

Washington wanderings
I am currently reading a book about the Grimke sisters, who were Southern women who campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the early 1800s so I was interested to read about Jefferson and his 100 slaves, I hadn't realised he said one thing and did another. By the way it's a great book if you haven't already read it, "The invention of wings" by Sue Monk Kidd. I am happy to see you've discovered some local vineyards. I always think that is the perfect end to a good day :)
22nd September 2014

U.S. History
I enjoy reading biographies and try to read at least one book a year about our past Presidents. Jefferson was a piece of work. I'll check out the books you've recommended.
22nd September 2014

Great explorations!
How wonderful that you two really get out and explore, and also have so many friends and relatives to visit with! I imagine you're going to be experts on DC before you leave and proper tour guides for TBers passing through. What fun!
22nd September 2014

Roaming D.C.
With us on this side of the country it is much easier for friends and family to visit. We love seeing them.
22nd September 2014
Alan,Dave, MJ

Great evening!
It was a real pleasure to meet you both
22nd September 2014
Alan,Dave, MJ

Cafe Nora
It was great meeting you. Hopefully, our paths will cross again.
22nd September 2014
Hagarstown, Maryland

Nice shot!
22nd September 2014
Hagarstown, Maryland

The rainbow made the game very special. It was lovely.
23rd September 2014

Make sure you post the pictures of you and...
Readingfcboi and Roosta to the Travel Album forum. Sounds like you are enjoying the DC area. We sure did.
23rd September 2014

Posting photos
I will post the photos of us with Ezra tonight. I believe the one of Alan has been posted already in the album.
23rd September 2014
Zephaniah Farm Vineyards

I'm in love with this building!
23rd September 2014
Zephaniah Farm Vineyards

Lovely building and lovely wines!
23rd September 2014

Summary-ish blog
Wow you certainly did A LOT in DC! This blog has a sense of an ending about it, but a happy one. I'm very much looking forward to getting to know a new area through your eyes :)
23rd September 2014

Summing it up
We did do a lot but I kept thinking that we had not seen much. Guess we were busier than I remember. So much to do and so little time.
23rd September 2014
Hagarstown, Maryland

Images of the capital
Heaps of wonderful images and good times in D.C. but this one takes the cake for iconic USA
23rd September 2014
Hagarstown, Maryland

Iconic USA
The boys of summer and a rainbow...what more could one want. Come visit and we will take you to a game.
23rd September 2014

Sins of our forefathers
So good to read about your visits to DC and the surrounding area. I remember the first time I went to Mt. Vernon (mid- 50's) and being totally shocked to learn that Washington had slaves. Well how else did the South keep their genteel way of life that they are so fond of reminiscing about? It infuriates me when the 'Founding Fathers' are held up as such role models when they committed the most heinous of all sins- owning, trading, abusing, and selling other human beings. But don't get me started....Carolyn are held up as
23rd September 2014

Getting you started
I agree with your sentiments about our forefathers. History is full dirty little of lies and secrets.
24th September 2014

You've moved!
Sorry i have not kept myself up to date. But i didn't know you've moved to Maryland. Been visiting a close family friend in DC area (Annandale, Virginia actually) till 2007 , my last USA trip. Bookmarked this blog for my next US trip! Keep well, my friends. Hope to see you soon.
24th September 2014

You've been busy
Your life has been too busy to keep up with our wanderings. D.C. was great. Now we are heading to Baltimore and Philadelphia. All is good.
30th September 2014
Top Chefs

Would those be scallops? I am a recent convert to them from my summer in the UK!
30th September 2014
Top Chefs

Yes Scallops!
Glad you have been converted. They are so wonderful.
12th November 2014

Love hearing about Monticello, we don’t have those kind of places in Canada! I was in DC when I was 12 with my mom, and she took me and my cousin to Monticello. We were in the lobby, with the tour group, and the tour guide was just starting to get revved up when he innocently asked if there were any questions yet. My cousin, also 12 years old, piped up and asked the tour guide flat out about Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings. The tour guide stammered, to say the least.
13th November 2014

Out of the mouths of babes
These days they talk about Sally Hemmings on the tour. Guess they got tired of being asked about it. Now they can present it the way they want.

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