51 Hours in DC by Mary Hapner
51 Hours in DC is a series highlighting the richness and diversity of the Nation’s Capital through the eyes of the employees of Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC.
This edition is brought to you by Executive Assistant to the Regional Vice President and General Manager Mary Hapner.
After spending more than a decade in both Los Angeles and Philadelphia, Mary finds the perfect balance of the two cities here in Washington, DC. 2020 marks her first decade in this region and she continues to be surprised as she explores the city. “I absolutely love the diversity and the pride that shines through when you meet the people who make up Washington, DC. Despite being the home to many important international meetings, there is always something fun to do here – especially with my husband and two young kids.”
Growing up, Mary has always had access to great food from her family’s Chinese restaurant and her mom’s amazing homemade dishes from her native Guangdong - it is no wonder that Mary “lives to eat” and not the other way around.
Read below for how Mary would spend her ideal weekend in DC. We hope that this will inspire your own travels to our Nation’s Capital.
51 hours in DC by Mary Hapner
Along the Potomac river, the Georgetown waterfront is a great place to start the weekend. My kids love a good splash at the centre fountain in the park at Wisconsin Avenue and K Street. On a hot summer day, who would not mind a quick cool off at this spot? I prefer to tackle the gigantic labyrinth circle by walking from the outside into the centre. If done with a with a clear mind, you will find the chaos from the week melting off. Our favourite spot to wind down is at the River Steps – the kids devouring an ice cream while we watch the birds and boats pass by. If you are lucky, you may even be able to catch a rowing event.
Shaw’s first ramen house and cocktail bar restaurant hits the spot with their dumplings and ramen selection with a service that is fun, comfortable and friendly. The array of crowd pleaser dumplings will keep any kid - and adult - happy. The one dish that I always look forward to is their Chaplin ramen, which is infused with lemongrass, coconut milk and heat – the broth is filled with robust flavours that come together nicely and it never disappoints.
At the 13th Street location, behind their glass door lies a simple menu with a selection of sweet and savoury goodness: fried chicken and doughnuts. Astro has the most amazing crème brulée donut that I shamelessly devour! Be sure to come early as they do sell out of items and there is often a short line of happy customers waiting. Believe it or not, there is actually an Astro donut food truck that roams the city and is also available for private events.
Matchbox is a neighbourhood restaurant with several locations throughout the DC metro area offering mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas, mini burgers, salads and chef dishes. The Capital Hill location offers patio seating, which is a plus and we love the neighbourhood vibe. I never crave pizza, yet there is one that I do love, it is covered with figs, prosciutto and arugula and finished with a drizzle of honey – delicious! Matchbox also offers the kids pizza dough to shape that they then take back to the woodburning fireplace to cook – it is the one time that we are happy the kids are playing with their food!
The Mall offers a number of museums, monuments, memorials and ample space for family activities. The Washington Monument was built in honour of our first president, George Washington and stands tall at 555 feet (169 metres). The best time of the year to visit is when the cherry blossoms are peaking in the spring. You can always find me strolling along the Tidal Basin soaking up the breath-taking views! One of our favourite places is the National Air and Space Museum – the planetarium features interesting short movies that any family can enjoy together and walk away learning something new. If you have 32 minutes to spare for travel time, there is also the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy centre in Chantilly, Virginia. The centre is located next to an airport and has many cool exhibits and planes that the kids will be amazed to see.
A popular French café on 14th Street that offers a menu of classic dishes locals and tourists love. The crusty house-made bread and the charcuterie board is my absolute favourite! The flavours of the foie gras parfait, paté and even the little wedge of greens – it is heavenly with every bite. We can never go wrong with the American burger for our kids, while my husband is fairly predictable with his order of steak frites. Le Diplomate is known for their great food and ambiance. At times it can be difficult to find availability – so plan ahead or ask our concierge to make a reservation for you.
- Happy Lamb Hot Pot (formerly Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot)
Hotpot has always been one of the most memorable family meals growing up, with a full table spread of your selected fresh vegetables and sliced proteins just waiting for you to cook in the bubbling pot of broth. This particular spot offers the most flavourful broth – it is so good, that you will not miss the sauce bars the competitors offer. The service is friendly and the restaurant immaculate, you can bet the 16 minutes travel into Virginia is a no brainer and well worth it!
No better way to walk off a belly full of goodness than a visit to our National Zoo. The exhibits are spread out on a hill – so be ready with your most comfortable shoes. There is no shortage of animals to see, insects to find and my kids all-time favourite, pandas, to fall in love with. The parking is USD 30 and the admission is at no cost, but donations are always welcome. Guaranteed smiles, it is an educational and a fun way to end the weekend!