Perhaps August is not the best month for DC tours, if only for the melting factor.

We’ve wound up in our Nation’s Capitol twice during this last of summer and have sweated like crazy because of it.

DC is about a five hour drive from our part of Pittsburgh. We choose a combo of secondary roads (88), toll roads (43), and interstates (68, 270, 495) to make the drive interesting. We often stop in Cumberland, Maryland for a bite to eat—a town that deserves to be a destination one of these weekends so we can explore the C&O Canal and the Railroad history there.

DC Tours in Various Neighborhoods

This trip, we stayed in DuPont Circle—our first in that section of town. The King of Points scored us a nice room at the Residence Inn on P Street. Parking is not included when you use points—and that ended up being $80 with the tax—so make sure to inquire when using points to book a room.

Previously, we’ve stayed on Pennsylvania Avenue, in Old Town Alexandria, and Georgetown among other fun places.

Saturday we walked to the Mall area. It’s hard to decide what to tour each trip because there is so much. We went again to the Vietnam Wall (I almost made it the length this time without crying. It is the first war I was truly aware of as a teenager.) and to the World War II Memorial. It’s nice when the fountain is flowing—the water adds a dimension of solemnity that you don’t have in the winter when it’s shut off.

When we see Veterans, we stop and say, thank you for your service. It is the smallest thing we can do, isn’t it?

Near the Washington Monument, The National Museum of African American History and Culture is nearing completion. It’s an attractive building with scrollwork surrounding it.

We went in the National Gallery of Art. I’d like to spend an entire day there. To stand in front of a Rembrandt—especially a self-portrait—is to marvel at the artist’s hand. There are Vermeer’s and Van Dyck’s and too many others we didn’t get to see.

We discovered the Einstein Memorial, which is a nice display, but I am not a fan of that type of sculpture. The one like it of Mister Rogers located at the apex of Pittsburgh’s three rivers is frightening.

DC Tours in DuPont Circle

Back at DuPont Circle, we had one of the most excellent dining experiences and toured two different houses: The Anderson House aka The Society of the Cincinnati and The President Woodrow Wilson House.

If you love Italian food and fresh fish, seek out Al Tiramisu—it was an exceptional meal with the best waiter, John—he had a flare for describing every dish that is still making my mouth water.

Both homes had excellent docents who gave personal glimpses into the lives of the home owners. We knew nothing about the Cincinnati, “The founders of the Society referred to themselves as “Cincinnati”—a plural form of the name Cincinnatus—to indicate their commitment to the virtues of the Roman hero.” Touring this home is free but we weren’t alone in leaving a donation behind after such a great experience. The Wilson home is $10 each and well worth it for the 45-minute tour through many of the rooms.

Anderson House Photos:

Leaving the Woodrow Wilson House, we followed the docent’s directions and used the Spanish Steps to return to Massachusetts Avenue. These steps are a mini replica of the much more elaborate Spanish Steps in Rome.

Embassy Row of DC

Massachusetts Avenue, NW includes the part of town known as Embassy Row. While there were lots of diplomatic cars around, we didn’t see a single soul going or coming from one of these lovely buildings. Did they desert the August heat? We walked along trying to guess the flags or read some of the door plates, which were quite small. I was taken with the sculpture in front of the Croatian Embassy of St Jerome the Priest. He was the first to translate the Bible from Hebrew and Greek to Latin.

A short weekend doing DC tours always leaves me wanting to turn right around and go back again. The Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception both beckon.

Have you been to DC? What’s your favorite experience?

Read: Touring the Library of Congress

And, Don’t Worry About Looking Like a Dork When You’re on Tour