Despite all this snow and ice, delays and cancellations, Spring Break is really just around the corner. And, for many people, the spring and summer seasons offer a chance to visit our nation’s capital. There’s so much to do in Washington DC, it’s almost mind-boggling. I’m pretty sure I could keep a visitor busy for a solid 6 months here. So, consider the below an outline and fill in with extras that pique your interests. And, please let me know about some of your own allergy-friendly finds via Twitter or Facebook using @shmallergy or #shmallergyDC!
Day 1: The Mall – Part 1
See: What ISN’T there to see on the National Mall?! Start at the Washington Monument (and definitely go to the top, it’s amazing – even the ride back down is memorable) and wind your way to the Lincoln Memorial, passing the WWII, Roosevelt, MLK Jr., Korean War and Vietnam War memorials.
Eat: I’d recommend packing a lunch and having a picnic right on the mall. There are some beautiful shaded lawns, benches beside the reflecting pools and vistas along the Potomac River. There’s a Whole Foods in nearby Foggy Bottom (2201 I St NW) that will help you accumulate your dairy-free, gluten-free and other food allergy friendly snacks. And, Foggy Bottom also hosts a SweetGreen (vegan, dairy and egg-free dishes), dc dosa (gluten-free options), as well as Roti (some gluten-free choices), Chipotle and Subway (where you can find their allergen menus online here).
Day 2: National Zoo
Eat: Start the day with a hearty breakfast at Open City (2331 Calvert St. NW) where you can enjoy some straightforward favorites like poached eggs and ham alongside mouthwatering brioche french toast. They serve tofu and fresh fruit here as well if you’re avoiding eggs, dairy, or wheat for example.
See: Make your way up Connecticut Avenue to the unmissable National Zoo. Wind downhill while at the zoo via the Asian Trail, passing by our beloved pandas and impressive elephant habitat. And, take a rest in sight of the famous O-line, an overhead ropes course that the orangutans freely travel from one building to another.
Eat Lunch: Take a short taxi ride to the kid-friendly and ever-delicious 2 Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria. They don’t take reservations so you don’t need to worry about rushing through the zoo to get there. Just sit back, and try not to drool over the amazing crust.
Then, See: Take the opportunity to walk off lunch by strolling a couple of blocks across the street to The National Cathedral. Between the stunning grounds and gardens, serene setting and unusual gargoyles – there’s something for everyone here. Bonus points if you can find the Dark Vader gargoyle.
Day 3: Back to the Mall – Part 2
See: Did I mention that the National Mall hosts EVERYTHING!?! Get there early and snag a ticket to the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing to see money being printed. Then, meander over to any of the MANY amazing Smithsonian museums.
Eat: Walk over to Old Ebbitt Grill. This restaurant was a favorite of several presidents including Teddy Roosevelt (*read its full history – it’s like eating in a Washington historic landmark). Bonus, Old Ebbitt Grill is part of the Clyde’s Restaurant Group which takes food allergies very seriously. I’ve found their serving staff to be knowledgeable in regards to food allergies and willing to thoroughly find solutions to allergy questions and substitutions.
Then, See: A very short walk from Old Ebbitt Grill is The White House. Regardless of politics, you just have to see it.
Day 4: Capitol Hill
See: In addition to touring the Capitol building (and trying not to sing “I’m Just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock aloud), be sure to stop by the Library of Congress. Thomas Jefferson’s personal library is on display there and the LOC’s exhibitions are fascinating.
Eat: Tortilla Coast is probably one of my favorite restaurants in DC. It’s great for families, relaxed and a favorite of Hill staffers which is how you know it’s good!
Then, see: Head to Penn Quarter where you’ll find the National Portrait Gallery and catch sight of portraits of all kinds of history-making Americans. Or, cross the street and check out the Spy Museum! Being in Penn Quarter sets you up perfectly for a night out. Catch a Washington Wizards or Georgetown Hoya’s basketball game, a Capitals hockey game, or concert at the Verizon Center. Or, hop a cab to the National’s Stadium.
Eat Again: If you’re in the mood for a burger, you’re in luck: Clyde’s has a fabulous one along with its many other offering and (as mentioned above) is very food allergy savvy; and Shake Shack is an easy go-to with a well-informed online menu to browse before you go.
Day 5: Georgetown and Arlington
See: Today is a day to stroll. Georgetown is full of history from its cobblestone streets to its beautiful university. But some of the fun in Georgetown is shopping, checking out the canals, and strolling by the Potomac’s waterfront.
Eat: If you find yourself at Georgetown University, you have to eat at The Tombs. It’s an institution and, again, part of the food allergy aware Clyde’s Group of restaurants. It purportedly inspired the setting for the 1980s classic “St. Elmo’s Fire” and is a great place to catch a game on TV.
Then, See: Hop across the river to visit Arlington National Cemetery before plopping back on the bed in your hotel room and realizing you’ll have to plan a second trip to see all the DC has to offer!