My visit to DC was historic in more ways than one. It was my first overseas trip since COVID-19 began, my first-time playing golf in the USA and I achieved a long-time golfing goal!
I didn’t visit any wineries, but I dine dine at great restaurants, visit famous landmarks, experience a game of baseball and tour amazing museums and galleries. First, to golf.
East Potomac Golf Links is only a short taxi or uber from the heart of DC. It has two, 9-hole courses (par 27 and par 36) and one 18-hole course (par 72). I played the 9-hole, par 27 course. The greens and fairways were a little rough, but it was a good practice round with views of the Washington Monument, and helpful and friendly staff. Booking online is easy and you can hire clubs and a buggy or cart.
The other course we played was Reston National. Reston is a certified sanctuary, and is home to abundant wildlife including birds, squirrels, and deer. The fairways are bordered by thick trees and undergrowth, but both the fairways and greens were in good condition. Reston offers some challenging holes, with tight fairways and bunkers and water hazards dotted throughout. Luckily for me, my tee shots were on point and every drive found the fairway. While my short game let me down, my ability to stay on the fairway and greens helped me achieve a long-term golfing goal—beating my husband for the first time! I admit he had sore knees during the game but, hey, I’ll still take it. The day we played it was 35 degrees with high humidity, so the drink cart was very welcome. Reston starts you off easy, with a wide, gently rolling and straight fairway to the green on the par 4, first hole. This leads to a more difficult, par 5, second hole with trees on either side, some tricky lies and bunkers. My favourites were holes six and sixteen, both short par 3s. I had an opportunity to birdie but failed to deliver, walking away with par on both holes. The hire clubs were good quality, and we enjoyed our day. To get to Reston from downtown DC, catch the metro to Wiehle station and then it’s a short uber or taxi ride to the course.
Without a car it isn’t easy to get to wineries from DC, so instead I ate and drank my way through several restaurants and pubs.
Famous for its connection to the downfall of former President Richard Nixon, The Watergate Hotel’s architecture and history make it a must-see. The nice surprise was the King Bird restaurant. While pricier, the food was superb and cocktails divine. For entrée I had the grilled peach salad, my husband went for the scallops, and we shared a prawn (shrimp) cocktail. For the main I had the steamed swordfish and my husband opted for the veal marsala with beans and broccoli. The desserts were showstoppers, and all meals were delicious. For a nice evening out, where you can soak up the history and atmosphere, I highly recommend a visit.
I love Asian inspired food and we stumbled across a great Thai restaurant in Foggy Bottom called Soi 38. The food was fresh and tasty with a bit of spice. They were packed, so book ahead. Our entrees were grilled prawns and pork belly, with my husband ordering a chicken green curry while I opted for prawns, cashews, and pineapple fried rice served in half a pineapple. The Menehunes’s Painkiller cocktail was hands down the best cocktail I had in DC and if you like a rum and tropical flavours, you’ll love it.
We liked Flavio’s Italian restaurant in Georgetown so much we dined there twice. They serve reasonably priced authentic Italian pasta and pizza; the food is good and the wine and cocktail list is extensive. Penne arrabiata was the pick. For an unusual experience, try Dining in the Dark DC. You book online for either meat, seafood or vegetarian courses. You are blindfolded for the entire dinner and while they give you some hints, you don’t know what you’ve eaten until it’s over. We loved it.
For pub food, we enjoyed Circa and The Pharmacy (Tonics at the Quigley Pharmacy) where you can chow down on spicy wings, pizza, burgers, nachos and pasta. Baseball is a way of life in the USA, and we watched the local team, the Washington Nationals verse San Diego Padres. A must-do experience but eat before you go. The food at the stadium is disappointing. You’ll find the Bluestone Lane café everywhere in downtown DC. Started by two former AFL players, the café which originally began in Melbourne, serves the best breakfast in DC and great flat whites that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in town.
DC is full of museums and galleries, many of which are free to the public, and to best plan your visit check out the Smithsonian centre. I toured the National Museum of the American Indian, the Hirshhorn modern and contemporary art museum and sculpture garden, and the National Museum of Natural History. Sadly, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was closed for renovations, but the International Spy Museum was interesting and a lot of fun for young and old. I even squeezed in a tour of the National Geographic Museum and their King Tutankhamun immersive exhibition. Take the metro to the Smithsonian stop, exit via National Mall to access most museums, and you’ll also have fantastic photo opportunities of the Washington Monument, museums and the Capitol Building. Like every other tourist I took pictures outside the White House and spent money at the White House gift shop. At the shop ask about having your photo taken in the fake Oval Office. Great to share with family and friends!
DC is built over a swamp. Summer can be stinking hot and humid, and it snows in winter. That aside, it’s a great place to visit, Georgetown has a great vibe and with so many things to see and do you’ll run out of time. If you’re a horror movie buff, you can event visit the stairs from the final scene of The Exorcist. For golf, I recommend Reston National and if you time your visit well, you may be able to take a short plane trip to watch one of the PGA or LPGA tournaments. If you make the long trek to the USA, put DC on your list.
Photos (Top L to R): East Potomac Golf Links with the Washington Monument in the background; King Tut exhibition at the National Geographic Museum; baseball at National Park; and Flavio’s Italian Restaurant. Bottom (L to R): Dessert at The Watergate; Hole 4 at Reston National Golf Course; Giving President Biden a break in the Oval Office; and exterior of The Watergate Hotel.