Touring Your Own Town

By Sherry — Winter is returning to Northern Virginia

img_2427I had a lovely start to the New Year with two great friends visiting — Liz Mugavero and Christine Hillman Keyes. I met them (along with so many other people) at a writers conference called Seascape and we ended up rooming together. You can read more about that here.

Christine is from Australia and so we decided to do a little touring. It was a rainy, chilly day but hey, nothing can stop an Aussie or her intrepid friends. Our first stop was dropping Liz off at Union Station in Washington, DC (boo-hoo)! I’d been in the building once before but they were renovating and had netting up all over the place. The station opened in 1907 and the building is beautiful.

Here are more pictures:

The outside is amazing too!

img_2468After we left Union Station we drove along the National Mall. Here’s a picture of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. One of these days I’ll make it inside!

Next we headed to Arlington Cemetery. I’ve been there several times and it always so moving. This is the first time I’ve visited during Christmas when all the wreaths are out on the graves.

Christine and I decided to brave the rain and take a walk. The first picture is on our way to visit John F. Kennedy’s grave and the second is a view of the Lincoln Memorial from JFK’s grave.


iceskatingWe headed to Georgetown next taking a route by the Kennedy Center and Watergate Hotel. Of course we got a bit lost on the way to the restaurant and lapped the Kennedy Center a couple of times. We pointed out Georgetown University and drove by some lovely old homes.

At lunch we had a view of an ice skating rink and the Potomac. After lunch we decided to head to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. It has been a really long time since I’d been there. They have an amazing new visitors center and museum. The good thing about touring on rainy days is the lines are short and the tour groups small!

You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the house so here are a few of the outside.

There’s nothing like touching the banister that George Washington did. It was a lovely way to spend the first day of 2017!

Readers: Do you have a favorite place to take your guests?

35 Thoughts

  1. How I wish I could have joined up with you and Christine, too! I’ve never been to Mt. Vernon – must remedy on my next trip south. I often take guests to Portsmouth, NH, here there is history, a port, and lots of great restaurants. Or out to Concord – more history and restaurants, and the water is the Concord River.

      1. I looked at doing it with my roomie two years ago, and it seemed complicated to get there, involving trains and boats (?). Or was that only if you were driving? Is there a decent train connection?

  2. We take them to Concord. The cemetery, the bridge, Alcott House, the Concord Museum, etc!

  3. Union Station is indeed gorgeous–and they have a terrific chocolate shop there! Mt. Vernon is on my bucket list. I’ve been visiting Concord since I went there with my mother and grandmother in 1967, and I make regular pilgrimages there.

    As for local tours, I’ve lived in a number of suburbs (outside of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston) but am ashamed to admit I never get around to playing sightseer in cities until relatives or friends come to visit. It took us five years to get to Independence Hall!

    1. Now you tell me about the chocolate shop! It is easy to ignore sites in your own backyard. There are many DC sites I still haven’t been too and I’m out in the burbs too.

  4. I love Mount Vernon and visit each time I’m on my way to Fredericksburg. It really is beautiful and, for some reason, I always buy soap there in the gift shop. Usually when I have guests they like to go to Annapolis or Ellicott City. Next time bring those girls over to Baltimore. We can visit Edgar Allan Poe and Dorothy Parker!

    1. I love Annapolis — probably because it reminds me of New England! I’ve never been to Ellicott City. I need to come visit Edgar and Dorothy!

  5. I love taking Australians to see sights like Mount Vernon. They’re so appreciative. Whereas Europeans are all, “You call this old?”

  6. My daughter took me to Mt. Vernon shortly after she moved to Arlington. What a phenomenally lovely place. We went when the gardens were in bloom, and I got the chance to talk to some of the groundskeepers.

    Here in Cincinnati, I take visitors on the “Ten-dollar tour”, driving around to as many beauty spots as I can. We have seven hills, like Rome or San Francisco, with beautiful vistas. Two must-see places are the Cincinnati Art Museum and the surrounding Mt. Adams neighborhood, and the wonderfully Art Deco Union Terminal, which houses the Cincinnati Historical Society, Museum of Natural History, and the Children’s Museum. It was and still is a railway station, too, with beautiful murals, and an arched lobby with magical acoustic properties. You can stand facing one corner of the arch and whisper to the person standing at the other corner, nearly 100 yards away, and hear one another perfectly.

    1. We lived in Dayton for three years but only made it to the zoo — which I like better than the one in Columbus. I wish we’d have made it to the places you described!

  7. Living in close proximity to Mount Vernon, (and with a house on land that was once one of George’s farm), and with a membership, I visit often, at all times of the year, although I do recommend visiting at this time of year, because the cupola in the house is open, since there are fewer visitors. I sometimes go there just for a good tramp through the woods. No question that it is a national treasure, and well worth the visit. I recommend reading Marfe Delano Ferguson’s book, Master George’s People, – – in which she talks about the life of the slaves at Mount Vernon, providing important insight into that aspect of life there.

    1. We didn’t get to go in the cupola — they had it roped off. I thought of you while we were there. Thanks for the book recommendation! I thought it was interesting that he wrote in his will that he wanted the slaves freed.

  8. Now you make me want to tour more of D.C. Thanks for the great pictures.

    And there are places near me I have yet to go despite having lived here for 20+ years. Like the CA mission just south of town. I really need to fix that.

  9. Choices depend on who’s coming . . . Many visitors here want to go to the Arch, or the Zoo (which is free!) I took a friend, visiting from Minneapolis for a zookeepers conference, to the top of the Arch because if she freaked out, I wasn’t a co-worker she’d have to be embarrassed in front of. When Al and Pat visited, I took them to the Botanical Garden, as I did for my ex and his current wife, because for those with botanical interests, it’s a must! A friend with ties to St. Louis U. wanted to see their campus, and the cathedral.

    1. I have been to St. Louis many times but haven’t made it to any of those places! I have driven by them and have been to Old Town in St. Charles.

  10. I love to do this, on my own or with visitors. Since I both live in and write about Brooklyn, a place that is changing rapidly, I always need to see old and new places I don’t know well enough. Favorites for visitors? I have 3-1. the nighttime view of the Manhattan skyline/Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side of the East River. Huge wow factor. 2. the Imigration Museum on Ellis Island, becuase it is uniquely NY. Other cities have great museums and quaint neighoboods and theater but no place tells this very Americna story. Closely related is the Tenement Museum on the lower east side. 3. For the biggest bang for the buck in museums? I say the Frick. Masterpieces everywhere you turn and you can see it all in a couple of hours.

    1. That all sounds wonderful! I follow someone on Instagram who post pictures of Brooklyn! I hope to visit some day and I’ll take your list with me. I was in NYC when I was in 5th grade but haven’t been back since.

    2. I visited the Frick a million years ago when I was in grad school in art history. I didn’t go back until a year or so ago and I nearly wept. Everything there is the best of the best, and it’s small enough that you don’t go into art overload. BTW, my daughter and I independently fell in love with the Holbein portrait of Thomas More–it is one of my all-time favorite paintings. Anybody who has the chance should visit the Frick.

  11. Beautiful photos of Union Station! We love eating at La Loma or Romeo & Juliet and walking down to Union Station afterward.

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