Flowers + Strawberries

After being cooped up indoors all winter, we’ve been trying to spend as much time outside as possible these days – at least until the oppressive DC summer heat and humidity set in. Over the past couple of weekends we visited one of our favorite DC spots – the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks – and took Sophie on her first strawberry picking adventure at a nearby pick-your-own farm. She enjoyed exploring the grounds of Dumbarton Oaks, but I’m pretty sure the afternoon of strawberry picking is her definition of the Best Day Ever.

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Sophie particularly loved the fountain – and fish! – located within the Ellipse at the center of the gardens. And while we sadly missed most of the spring flowers like peonies, lilacs, and tulips, the roses and iris were at peak bloom during our visit. Heavenly.

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Our strawberry picking adventure started with feeding clover to the goats and saying hello to the farm’s piglets. Sophie has been really into learning animal names and sounds lately, so I’m pretty sure she would have been happy if the afternoon had ended here…

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…but she was pretty stoked once we got to the strawberry fields. She spent a few minutes pointing out berries for us to pick – “Strawbey!” – and she also enjoyed carefully placing the picked strawberries into our bucket. It didn’t take long for her to start dipping into the accumulated pile of strawberries. Pure joy for this tiny toddler.

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My people. I do love these two so very much.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper (last photo via Instagram)

DC Guide: Where to Eat, Part 2

A couple of years ago, we shared our very first mini guide to DC – including some of our favorite restaurants in the District. And with the cherry blossom season only a few weeks away, I thought it might be time to share a little update for any of you planning Spring trips to DC. Now, our dining habits have changed quite a bit in the last two years thanks to Sophie, so most of these are either in our Capitol Hill neighborhood or the nearby H Street corridor – but luckily they’re all really good! And while we might not be the best at keeping up with the trendiest new restaurants, we can offer a few tried-and-true recommendations.

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Illustration by Molly Jacques for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Rose’s Luxury: I don’t think I could possibly say enough good things about Rose’s Luxury. This amazing restaurant opened up in our neighborhood just a few months ago and has earned rave reviews from every single food critic in town (examples here and here). We visited Rose’s Luxury shortly after their October opening with Sophie in tow, and it’s easily the best meal we’ve had in recent memory. They also have an amazing drink menu with several seriously delicious cocktails. And if all of that wasn’t enough, the staff was amazing with Sophie – even taking her on a little tour of the restaurant so we could have a few more minutes to enjoy our meal! Go, and you won’t regret it.

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Rose’s Luxury via EaterDC

The Red Hen: It’s surprisingly difficult to find good pasta in DC (or good Italian food, for that matter), so we were pleasantly surprised when we visited The Red Hen a few weeks ago. We focused in on the pasta, but based just on our one experience I’d wager that everything on the menu at this Italian-influenced American restaurant is incredible. You’ll also definitely want to save room for dessert: Sophie was a big fan of the maple custard with hazelnut crumble. We saw several other families dining there during our visit, and they even have counter-height high chairs for tiny patrons so you don’t have to wait for a table!

Union Market: Union Market isn’t a single restaurant, but rather a large market comprised of shops, artisan vendors, and multiple casual dining options. It’s one of our favorite spots for a casual lunch or dinner. We’re partial to the sandwiches from Red Apron Butcher, the Korean tacos from TaKorean, and the hummus from DC Mediterranean Corner, but you’re bound to find something you love at Union Market.

Graffiato: Graffiato is probably the only non-kid-friendly restaurant on this list, but it’s worth a special night out. We indulged in our last pre-Sophie night out meal at Graffiato and still talk about it today. We went with the tasting menu, but you can’t go wrong here. Just be sure to make a reservation well in advance: it’s one of DC’s most popular spots!

District Taco: For a casual family night out, we’re big fans of food truck turned brick and mortar restaurant District Taco. Everything is simple, made daily from fresh ingredients, and really delicious. From fish tacos to quesadillas to soft tacos, you can’t go wrong here.

Beuchert’s Saloon: We were so happy when this restaurant opened in our neighborhood last year! A re-imagining of an 1800s saloon and Prohibition-era speakeasy, Beuchert’s devotes equal focus to both its food and drink menus. On the food side, Beuchert’s sources most of its ingredients from local farms and co-ops with delicious results, while the house cocktail menu includes several throwbacks to the restaurant’s long saloon history. So good!

Batter Bowl Bakery: Located along the H Street corridor, Batter Bowl Bakery is one of our favorite neighborhood lunch and brunch spots. The menu includes a variety of breakfast platters and open faced sandwiches, along with a range of freshly baked pastries. If you’re a coffee drinker, you’ll love Batter Bowl Bakery: the lattes are some of the best we’ve found in DC yet.

Founding Farmers: Speaking of brunch, we would be remiss if we didn’t recommend brunch at Founding Farmers. You’ll need to make reservations well in advance, but the menu of farmhouse hashes, cast iron skillets, and signature breakfast dishes is well worth the advance planning. We visited with my in-laws just before Sophie’s first birthday, and everyone at the table (Sophie included!) was a big big fan.

p.s. DC is lucky to have two amazing food critics, so if you’re planning a visit to DC you’ll definitely also want to check out both the Washingtonian and Washington Post restaurant sections and even some of the DC foodie blogs like Metrocurean and Eater DC for the latest openings and reviews.

DC Guide: The National Postal Museum

We made an impromptu trip to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum on a rainy Saturday a couple of weeks ago. It was actually my first time at this museum, but I’m so glad we went – it’s now on my must-visit list for DC! The stamp collection alone is worth a visit, but there are also exhibits on the evolution of the postal service, from the original private letter carriers to the Pony Express to the modern U.S. Post Service, and a display of mail delivery vehicles and airplanes. Sophie even had fun at the museum pulling out the displays in the stamp gallery and pretending to drive a mail delivery truck!

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The National Postal Museum is located in Northeast DC next to Union Station, and is housed on the lower level of the historic City Post Office Building, which was constructed in 1914 and served as the DC post office from 1914 to 1986. I love these old buildings – the architectural details are amazing! The Museum also houses a 6,000-square-foot research library, a stamp store, and of course a museum shop.

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The stamp collection is amazing – not that you’d expect anything else! Everything from the first postage stamp to mail sent from the Moon, examples of engraving dies used to make antique stamps, and tons of international stamps.

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As you can probably tell, the National Postal Museum is very kid friendly (which I love!). We’re looking forward to going back!

More fun things to do in DC right here!

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

DC Guide: Fun Winter Activities

DC’s tourist season is decidedly in the spring and early summer, when millions of visitors come to see the cherry blossoms (which bloom late March to early April), the national monuments, and other DC attractions. A couple of years ago, I shared some things to do in DC that are not on the National Mall, and I’ve continued to share some of our favorite DC spots ever since. Winter in DC tends to be fairly quiet, which makes it a wonderful time to visit! So today I thought I’d share a few fun winter activities in DC.

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Illustration by Molly Jacques for Oh So Beautiful Paper

U.S. Botanic Garden

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Photos of the U.S. Botanic Garden by me via Instagram

The U.S. Botanic Garden is one of my most favorite DC destinations in the winter. It may be winter outside, but it’s always summer inside the garden conservatory! The citrus trees and orchids are both blooming, there are poinsettias everywhere (including pretty pale pink and white varieties), and if you happen to visit the gardens around closing time you’ll have a rare opportunity to see the gardens at night – all dressed up with special holiday season lighting. From Thanksgiving to January 5, the Botanic Garden hosts a wonderful seasonal exhibition with a special train exhibit and models of DC historical landmarks constructed entirely from natural materials.

Zoolights at the National Zoo

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Photo via the National Zoo

Okay, so the National Zoo is at the top of our DC list any time of year, but from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day the Zoo gets all dressed up to celebrate the holidays. More than 500,000 LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland with animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a garden light sculpture. Visitors can take a train tour through the zoo, ride a solar-powered carousel, and visit some of the indoor animal exhibits like the small mammal house and reptile discovery center. It’s fun for adults, but also really super fun if you happen to be traveling with kids. And the best part: admission is free!

Indoor Museums

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Air and Space Museum Photos by me via Instagram

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Museum of Natural History Photos by Em for Marvelous

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen us playing tourist in DC during our holiday break. While the museums aren’t completely empty, winter is a wonderful time to visit some of DC’s more popular museum destinations. We’re particularly fond of the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History, which are both great for kids, and both wings of the National Gallery of Art. And like all Smithsonian Institution museums, including the Zoo, the admission is free!

Go to a Caps Game

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Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images via Bleacher Report

You may be surprised to learn that I’m a pretty big hockey fan! It hasn’t always been the case (I grew up in Florida, where hockey wasn’t really at the top of the sports hierarchy), but after living in DC for more than 10 years I’m totally on board. All it took was a well-timed HBO series and friends to explain the rules. Maggie and Trevor took us to our first Capitals game, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tickets can be pricey, but games at the Verizon Center in DC’s Chinatown neighborhood are SO much fun!

Outdoor Ice Skating

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Photo by Glyn Lowe Photoworks via Guest of a Guest

The DC area has several outdoor ice skating rinks, but my two favorites are the rinks at the National Sculpture Garden on the National Mall and Canal Park in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Southeast DC. The Sculpture Garden rink is adjacent to the National Gallery of Art, and a few Caps players have been known to stop by from time to time. Since it’s on the National Mall, the Sculpture Garden can get a wee bit crowded – especially on weekends. The ice skating rink at Canal Park is less touristy and can be a more relaxing way to spend an afternoon – and you can step into Park Tavern for a warm meal when you’re done!

p.s. More of our favorite DC activities right here!

DC Guide: Autumn at the National Arboretum

The U.S. National Arboretum is one of our very favorite spots in DC: it’s basically a giant 450 acre park in the middle of Northeast DC with tree groves, gardens, and walking paths. I included the Arboretum in my mini guide to DC last year and we also did our family photo session with Adam Barnes at the Arboretum back in May. We love to visit the Arboretum in the spring when it feels like everything in the world is in bloom: cherry blossoms, azaleas, peonies, and magnolias. But we realized a few weeks ago that we had never visited the Arboretum in the fall, and we were afraid that we’d miss our chance due to the government shutdown. We made a beeline right after the government reopened, which was just when the foliage was starting to show its fall colors!

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Sophie had the BEST time strolling around the Arboretum in her little red car! We mostly stuck to the eastern end of the Arboretum, which includes the dogwood collections and Asian collections. We also found the most beautiful little gazebo in a conifer grove. It was a perfectly peaceful afternoon spot.

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The foliage around DC is even more impressive these days, so I’d love to make another trip! DC is so ridiculously pretty right now. I’m going to be so sad when it’s all gone in just a few short weeks.

p.s. If you missed it last year, you can find the rest of my mini guide to DC right here!

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper