Washington, DC, the U.S. capital, is a compact city on the Potomac River, bordering the states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s defined by imposing neoclassical monuments and buildings – including the iconic ones that house the federal government’s 3 branches: the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court. It’s also home to iconic museums and performing-arts venues such as the Kennedy Center.
This year travel wise was focused on visiting small towns in U.S.A. that I’ve never been to. It was an eye opener to see how many beautiful towns there are that I’ve yet to see in my own country. I learned that having a car will take you far. Renting a car when I visited Maryland was the best thing my mom and I could’ve done. We stayed for about 4 days and saw a new town or two every single day with a total of 6 different places not including the ones we went back to. It was my favorite trip of this year because it was something new that I’ve never done before and it was a leisure and family trip combined.
The most unique trip I’ve done was definitely Walla Walla. It was a place that I wouldn’t normally visit (especially in the winter) but, an invitation from a friend convinced me otherwise.
My friend’s place was in the middle of the forest. I would look out the window and see snow covered trees lined from one to another. The total quietness scared me at first being a ‘city girl’ and all but, it warmed up on me after getting a good night’s rest.
Our hotel on this trip was at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It was quite nice and conveniently located on the boardwalk with several restaurants, bars and shops all around. We were literally in the middle of it all. What’s even better was the fact that our hotel had the view overlooking the lake. I made it a point on the first night to explore the area and walked around the lake.
The lake itself is about a 2 mile loop. From our hotel, I made a right and walked passed bars and restaurants. People were already having dinner at this time as it was a Friday around 7pm. A few couples and kids were also taking a leisurely walk around the lake. I saw a couple of trees and benches placed in the area where I decided to sit in one of them. While sitting down, I realized I was already across the lake from where my hotel was located. The lights illuminated the hotel from my view. It was quite a beautiful spot.
Feeling cold, I finished my loop and decided to go back to the hotel room. I must’ve been tired or the bed was that comfy because I didn’t remember falling asleep.
I admit I knew very little about Frederick when we visited. Given the little time we had, we decided to freely explore the historic district without much research of the area.
When we arrived, the vibe of this town automatically took me back to my San Francisco days. It reminded me a lot of Haight street lined with eclectic shops, art galleries, coffee spots, distilleries, breweries and different types of restaurants. Parking was fairly easy and it was definitely not as crowded as Annapolis.
We had lunch on the outside patio at Hootch & Banter Lounge within a few steps from Carroll Creek. The food was amazing and probably one of the best meals I had on this trip. Despite that the service was slow because they were busy, my soup dish was delicious. I really should’ve had seconds. lol
We walked around a bit more after lunch and went around the block. Frederick has plenty of restaurants to choose from and I think it’s one of those towns where if you want to find an authentic item, this would be the place to go.
On our way back from Annapolis, we made a pit stop at Brookside Gardens. Situated within Wheaton Regional Park, this 50 acre garden is a must see. The admission is free.
My first impression of the park is how peaceful it was and well maintained. They have gazebos, ponds, Japanese tea garden (small turtles swimming that you can see from the garden), and areas to rent for special events such as birthdays, weddings and such. We strolled our way around the area, taking photos of the different flowers and plants. I noticed there were a few joggers as well passing by. This would be perfect for it and for all you plant lovers.
Second day, life was a bit easier with the time difference slowly wearing off on us. We didn’t waste any time. We woke up, got ready, had breakfast and headed to Annapolis. The drive was about 30-40 min. which was the same distance as driving to Alexandria but, heading east from Maryland.
Annapolis is Maryland’s capital city located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. It is known as America’s Sailing Capital and plenty of seafood restaurants (and just about anything) to eat your heart out.
We arrived around lunch time and found the town very compact with lots to see and quite crowded. Unlike the quiet and more subdued Alexandria, Annapolis is more touristy.
Coming here you’ll have to get ready for the crowd. There are plenty of parking garages but, we preferred parking in one of the garages nearby away from the center. However, don’t let that deter you from visiting. Annapolis remains “one of the most intact and authentic colonial towns in the entire nation.” Everything is in walking distance and you’ll find lots of boutique shops, pubs, bakeries, galleries and restaurants. If you like water, this is the place to be.
For lunch, we settled on Middleton Tavern (a historic tavern) as they accommodated our large group in the middle of rush hour. The staff were friendly, attentive and provided a fair service. I knew there were mix reviews about the food coming in to this restaurant. However, if you like seafood, this is a good choice.
We ordered a couple of appetizers from calamari to oysters and they were all gone within minutes. Maybe it was the combination of hunger and the food being tasty but, we had to re-order the appetizers. I particularly liked the calamari but, the oysters were dipped in butter mixed in something that was just very good. I’m salivating now as I am writing this description.
After lunch we roamed around a bit to lessen the load on our full stomachs then, headed home.