Passport to Adventure: New York City to Washington, D.C.
That is why this we partnered with Christine Amorose and Passion Passport to help capture a look at the services we offer and the many destinations we serve across the country. Read on for a little trainspiration:
One of my favorite parts of living in New York City is how easy it is to escape the city, whether it’s to the beach, the Berkshires or a city that isn’t half as chaotic. Recently, I teamed up with Passion Passport, Amtrak and photographer Michael George for a weekend adventure in our nation’s capital. We hopped on a train to Washington, DC on Thursday night, and explored as much as we could before getting on the Acela back to New York City on Sunday afternoon.
One of my favorite parts of train travel is the ease of departure: we rocked up to Penn Station at the end of the workday (conveniently located right in the heart of Manhattan) and just about 20 minutes before departure. No hour-long security lines to worry about, no expensive cab rides out to the airport. Michael and I hadn’t met before this trip, but we easily found each other beneath the bustling departures sign in Penn Station.
The three-hour trip went by in a flash. With only a few stops and no traffic to worry about, Michael and I chatted about our recent and future travels, enjoyed the out-the-window views and caught up on emails using the in-train Wi-Fi.
Arriving at Union Station in Washington, DC is a grand affair: you’re greeted by towering white columns and Art Deco details, and as you exit the station, the first thing you spot is the Capitol looming in the distance (slightly less majestic at the moment, thanks to a heavy dose of scaffolding for restoration).
It’s easy (and important) to do the standard fare in DC: museum-hopping around the various Smithsonian institutions (costs nothing: all free and air-conditioned), walk up the National Mall, take a tour of the Capitol, pay respects at Arlington Cemetery, and just generally be in awe of the grand scale of the buildings and expanse of the grounds.
But we took the opportunity on our weekend away to explore some of the lesser-known tourist destinations and local favorites in the District—and were rewarded with some extremely Instagram-able moments.
Trade in your walking shoes for a bike.
One of the most important things for a tourist to note: Washington, DC is a city of sprawl. Places that look like they’re right next to each other on a map can be a 15-minute walk—no small feat on a hot, humid day. We signed up for a three-day Capital Bikeshare membership ($17, covers unlimited 30-minute rides) and it made a world of difference! There are stations scattered all over the mall and throughout the neighborhoods, and it made getting around the city much more efficient.
Explore the district’s colorful details.
The official spread of buildings in Washington is decidedly Neoclassical: think Greek columns, sprawling exterior steps and more white than not. But what the capitol and surrounds lack in color, flair and flowers, the residential neighborhoods make up for in a splash of vibrancy. Stroll down E Capitol Street NE to 7th Street SE for plenty of #HousePortrait-worthy homes, and then pop into Eastern Market for fresh produce and Capitol Hill Books for endless bibliophilia. Or head up to U Street for a bowl of Ben’s Chili Bowl (and a peek at the adorable storefront), and swing by 12th Place NW for a row of perfectly pastel-hued homes.
Plan your day around your meals.
Join the locals in Capitol Hill, and start the day with a latte and cranberry scone at Peregrine Espresso. Or head over to Georgetown for the famous “dirty chai” (a chai-flavored cupcake made with espresso) and a delicious homemade biscotti at Baked and Wired. For the best cheap eats in town, grab a Mexican (or American) style taco at District Taco or a bowl of chili half smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl. If you’re in the mood for something healthier, pop by one of DC’s original Sweetgreen locations, grab a Greek bowl at Cava Grill or try a smoothie at Protein Bar. But if you want to splurge on something sweet: do not miss Pitango Gelato. The cardamom flavor is unbeatable!
Enjoy the water in Georgetown.
The waterfront is a popular destination in Georgetown: think afternoon beers on outdoor terraces, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to rent, a bike trail along the Potomac. But if you head up the hill (you can even take the stairs made famous by The Exorcist), you’ll find a quaint tree-lined canal filled with snapping turtles—complete with a series of locks and bridges and a serene walking trail.
Head to museums off the mall.
While the main Smithsonian museums are certainly worth exploring—we loved Dan Flavin’s Light Works installation at the Hirshorn Museum, and the Friday evening jazz at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden—there are so many options beyond the National Mall. Michael and I both agreed that the National Portrait Gallery was our favorite discovery: the sunny interior courtyard is a lovely place to while away the afternoon, and there are tons of interesting architectural details—in addition to all of the interpretations of the American portrait. The National Building Museum was another building where the structure itself inspired a sense of awe, and Folger Shakespeare Library has a simply beautiful reading room that can only be glimpsed on a free tour.
After a delightful weekend in Washington, DC, we boarded the Acela back to New York City—another quick journey with a window seat and no delays, and we were back home by dinnertime!
Author: Christine Amorose runs the blog C’est Christine, which started when she moved to Nice, France, and then continued as she worked and lived in Melbourne, Australia and backpacked solo through Southeast Asia. Since “settling down” in New York City, she’s sailed the San Blas Islands, road-tripped around Iceland and Puerto Rico, and eaten her way through Jordan and Montreal. She currently lives in Brooklyn and, in her spare time, blogs about travel, fashion and creating an intentional lifestyle as a twenty-something. Follow her IG and Twitter @cestchristine.