With Washington D.C. being just 4 hours away from the Bronx, it might not exactly fall under our local getaway category- but it’s certainly on our suggested list of places to explore. It’s the perfect place for a last minute weekend trip to fit in some sightseeing- and it doesn’t all have to be done in one visit.
Being that I spent a big part of my life in Virginia as a kid, I have a lot of friends who still live in the area. So for my most recent visit, I decided to make D.C. part of our weekend fun.
While driving to Washington D.C. is easy enough (it’s a straight shot down 95), we’re big fans of jumping on the bus. You can sleep, read a book, get work done, or even watch movies- and arrive in the city ready to hit the streets. Our go-to method of transportation when visiting DC is megabus. At under 30 bucks each way, it’s affordable, convenient, and leaves you right in the heart of D.C.
For my most recent visit, I jumped on an afternoon bus to Washington so I could accompany my daughter and husband to an early doctor appointment before I left. You know it’s a convenient way of traveling when you don’t need to arrive hours ahead of time, and it takes off when it’s supposed to. The NYC megabus stop is located on 34th street, right on the side of the Jacob Javits Center. It’s an easy shot right off the West Side Highway for those getting a ride, or one can take a crosstown bus or the 7 train to the last stop at Hudson Yards.
Since I had friends in Virginia, I opted to take the DC Metro into Virginia and stay with them rather than at a hotel. Being that megabus leaves you right at Union Station, it is so easy to go downstairs and catch a train into VA straight from the bus. Depending on your budget, going a few stops into Virginia is a great way to save some money and stay at a hotel (or friend’s house) outside of D.C.
For New Yorkers- the DC Metro Subway is pretty easy to navigate. The Metrorail has six color-coded rail lines and now uses a card system similar to a Metrocard. The machines are more comparable to the LIRR or Metro North, and like the airtrain at JFK- you have to use the card to exit also. When I purchased my pass, there was a gentlemen who worked for the Metro who was there to help passengers purchase their passes-making it even easier.
I spent the first day in Virginia hanging out with friends, and planned to ride the Metro back into D.C. for a day of fun with friends.
Our first stop was the International Spy Museum. Being that we were already off the Orange line in Virginia, our ride in was a straight shot on the same line to the Metro Center station. Opened in 2002, the museum is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and boasts the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display.
After entering the museum, guests are taken on an elevator down to a room full of spy profiles. There you are asked to choose a profile and memorize it. I was Angelina Falcone, a 21 year old travel agent from Italy- on a 30 day business trip to Vietnam-I’m good right. From there, we entered a briefing room where we were given some background information on spies- we then went room by room as we learned pretty much everything there is to know about espionage. There were tons of artifacts, but also some fun interactive parts. My friend even crawled through an air duct (I was too claustrophobic to do it- there goes my future spy career) and saw how a spy is able to gather intel without anyone below noticing.
Overall, it was a really fun museum and we were happy to check it off our D.C. bucket list.
Of course, your visit to D.C can also include more of the typical Washington museum experiences- and the best part is many of them are free. In fact, a great idea is to print out this list of free museums over at www.washington.org, and make it a point to visit a few each time you make the trip down.
Once we hung up our agent badges and left the museum, we were starving. So we crossed the street and headed to Pi Pizzeria– a joint that serves up St. Louis style pizza and craft beers. Often mistaken for Chicago style pizza, St. Louis style is actually thinner- and just so happens to be former President Barack Obama’s favorite. So it may not have been the best place to experience “local” food, but we couldn’t resist trying a slice from the place whose owners were invited to cook in the White House Kitchen.
I ordered myself a sangria, while we all decided on trying The Hill- a pie with mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, green pepper, kalamata, onion, and banana pepper . It was meant to be served on thin crust, but of course we had to try the infamous St. Louis style crust. Let’s just say, there wasn’t a single bite left.
After pizza, we wanted to fit in some of the more tourist-y things to do before I headed back to New York. Conveniently, Union Station-where the megabus stop is located- is also walking distance to many of these sights. So, we went from chowing down on The Hill, to posing in front of the Hill- Capital Hill that is. Just walking around admiring the architecture that George Washington himself first laid the cornerstone for is truly a sight I don’t grow tired of. Throughout the city you’ll find some of the most amazing architectural structures, so be sure to bring your walking shoes and a fully charged camera.
If you plan ahead, you can even order a free visitors guide and map at www.washington.org, which ships 7-10 business days after you submit your information. The site itself is a great resource of things to do by neighborhood.
My bus back to New York was leaving at 6 pm. So around five, we headed into Union Station and stopped inside the Sugar Factory for an Instagram worthy drink. Oddly enough I never go to the big location in NYC, but it was fun to enjoy one last hoorah before I headed upstairs on the line for New York. Inside Union Station, there are plenty of shops and places to grab a quick bite before you depart.
We arrived back in Manhattan around 10:30 pm and the journey was over. Passengers hopped off, some grabbing their luggage from underneath- and hopped into cabs, or walked to the nearby train station. At less than $60 roundtrip, I had been able to visit the nation’s capital, spend time in Northern Virginia, and make memories with good friends. Each time I head down to Washington D.C., I’m reminded of just how much I want to still explore. And with a bus ticket and the right planning, it’s beyond easy to make it happen.
Thanks to megabus and the International Spy Museum for the accommodations to produce this feature. As always, all opinions are our own.