Washington D.C 2017 - Day 2

Thank you for visiting my blog.  This week my blog will feature the second day of our four day weekend in Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia. Our whirlwind trip would take us to world renowned museums & historical destinations that helped build a nation. So keep reading to learn how to travel to Washington D.C. on a budget. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog so you do not miss any of my posts from our trip. Read on to learn more about our trip.

After getting a great night of sleep, our second day would start with a hearty breakfast at our hotel, Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. If you would like to know more about this hotel, click here to read my review
A wide variety of hot & cold breakfast selections are available daily at the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria, VA.
After breakfast we headed to the King Street Metro Station, a short 5 minute walk from our hotel. We took the blue line to the Smithsonian Station. The ride took about 25 minutes.  Surprisingly the metro was not at all crowded during Columbus Day weekend. We chose the Smithsonian station because we would spend the day at the National Mall touring museums. The metro is an inexpensive transportation option that we used daily while in D.C. To learn more about the metro, read my previous blog.
King Street station is clean & safe.
 We arrived around 9:15 A.M. The only museum open before 10 AM is the Smithsonian Castle so we toured it while waiting for the other museums to open. There is no charge to visit any Smithsonian Museum so for a family on a budget this makes for a fun filled day with little expense. In fact you would need at least 3 full days to explore all of the museums and monuments on the National Mall
Smithsonian Castle
We walked over to the Smithsonian National Air & Space museum at opening time, 10 A.M. 

As we approached the building we noticed a line to get in. We would wait in line 15 minutes before finally getting in. 
There was a long line waiting to get in to the National Air & Space museum at 10 AM.

The primary reason our wait was 15 minutes to get in was because everyone is required to enter through the metal detector & security checkpoint. Every bag must be checked by security, I recommend bringing as few bags as possible when you tour any Smithsonian museum. 
Security checkpoint for National Air & Space Museum
Once inside the museum we were amazed at every turn.  With 21 exhibition galleries & over 60,000 documents ranging from Saturn V rockets to jet liners, you will be amazed too.  Not to mention the state of the art IMAX & planetarium. You could easily spend a full day at this museum, which is the largest of all the Smithsonian museums.  However, because time was limited, we only allotted 1/2 day for the National Air and Space museum. 
Entrance of the National Air & Space Museum
At the entrance we noticed a docent lead tour taking place.  We like taking docent tours because we can learn so much more than just looking at the exhibits.  Our tour guide was informative & interesting as he lead the 1 hour tour through select galleries. 
Docent lead tours provide museum visitors with a wealth of information about the items on exhibit. 
One of my favorite exhibits we saw was the Wright Brothers exhibit. Our docent did a fantastic job explaining to us the perils the brothers experienced when trying to make that first flight. 
1903 Wright Flyer
After our docent lead tour we explored the museum on our own. We were amazed at how crowded the museum was, I suppose it is because it was Columbus Day weekend...

After spending about 2 1/2 hours at the National Air and Space museum we started looking for lunch. There is a McDonald's restaurant located in the museum, however, it is closed on Sunday.  We found a Quiznos located within 5 minutes walking from the museum. 
Quiznos located on C Street is a 5 minute walk from the National Air and Space museum.
I wish I could tell you my lunch was wonderful, but I cannot.  The service was incredibly slow & the food was mediocre at best at Quiznos on C Street in Washington D.C.  I would not recommend this location. 

After lunch we headed back to the National Mall and happened upon the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.  I do not consider myself to be that much of an art expert, but the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden was incredible! The artists who created the items on display are world class.  You should make sure to visit when you are at the National Mall.  
Entrance to the National Gallery
of Art Sculpture Garden
Life-sized stainless steel tree
It LOOKS 3-dimensional but is it?
It's AMAZING what the eye sees depending on where you are standing!
Next we headed to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It was around 1:30 P.M. so we knew our time was limited at this museum because we wanted to go to the American History Museum as well.  The Smithsonian Museums close at 5:30 P.M. in October. 

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
When we arrived we once again found long lines waiting to get in to the building.
Lines waiting for entrance to the National Museum of Natural History
After making it through security, we were in the museum.  It looked JUST like we had seen in the Night at the Museum movie, except for all the people.  It was INCREDIBLY crowded throughout the museum.  I overheard a security guard say it was because it was Columbus Day weekend.  I had no idea it would be that crowded. 

The museum of Natural History houses artifacts ranging from the history of mankind to the Hope Diamond.  We really liked the mammals & the ocean floor exhibit. However, because it was so very crowded it was quite difficult to see any exhibit. We left sooner than normal because there were just too many people. 
View of the rotunda from the second floor balcony.

Mammals exhibit

The Hope Diamond 
We left the National Museum of Natural History around 3:30 P.M. & headed over to the National Museum of American History. Guess what we found when we arrived?  EVEN LONGER LINES THAN BEFORE.  The line to get into the National Museum of American History was out the door and all the way around the massive building. We estimated the wait time to get in was around 45 minutes.  If we had not previously visited this museum back in 2011, we would have waited in the line. But since we had visited the museum before and were quite frankly tired of fighting the crowds, we opted not to wait in line.  It makes me sad we did not get to visit this museum because it was one of my favorites.  When you visit Washington D.C. make sure you go to the National Museum of American History. 

Tired and weary we headed to the Smithsonian Metro station to take us back to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.  After dropping our backpack at our hotel we walked over to Old Town.  It will take you about 15 minutes to walk to the heart of Old Town from the Residence Inn.  If you choose not to walk, you can always catch the FREE trolley that runs from the metro station to the waterfront with stops in between.  You can also take the FREE shuttle offered by Residence Inn Old Town. In Old Town you will find the streets lined with quaint shops as well as a variety of restaurants. At the end of town you will find the waterfront. The waterfront offers stunning views of the Potomac River.  
Old Town Alexandria, VA is quaint and inviting.

Old Town Alexandria, VA has a variety of shops and restaurants.

Old Town Alexandria, VA town center

The waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, VA
After our walking tour of Old Town Alexandria we developed quite the appetite. After checking out prices for restaurants on King Street & near the waterfront, we decided not to eat at the trendy restaurants we found.(prices were around $30+ per plate for dinner) We decided we would give Joe Theismann's Restaurant a try since the menu looked like food we would enjoy with some plates around $20 each for dinner.  The restaurant gets great reviews & is near our hotel so we thought why not? We walked 15 minutes from Old Town to the restaurant, the further we walked the hungrier we became. Just as we walked up to the restaurant, a group of 30+ teenagers with a school group walked in front of us.  The restaurant was already packed & we were told our wait would be 1 hour and 15 minutes.  UGH! After fighting the crowds all day in D.C. we just wanted a good meal so we could head back to our hotel for some much needed rest. Not willing to wait an hour and 15 minutes we headed back to the hotel. Maybe nearby Whole Foods would have something in their deli we could take back to the room to eat. 

As we walked toward Whole Foods we noticed Table Talk Restaurant that was across the street from our hotel. This same restaurant was there back in 2011 when we visited the area but we never ate there.  It must be good food if it is still around right? We were starving & thought let's give it a try! The restaurant is nothing fancy, it favors a diner more than a formal restaurant. We went in and seated ourselves.  The restaurant was somewhat busy for a Sunday evening. The menu options certainly looked like the kind of food we were searching for and the prices were favorable too. I ordered chicken fettuccine Alfredo but was apprehensive.  Can you really get good chicken fettuccine Alfredo from a diner?  The price was fair & I was starving so I took a chance.  My husband went more traditional and ordered the grilled pork chops.  My son had the classic fish n chips platter. The servers were friendly and prompt.  Our food was to our table with very little wait, I guess they knew how hungry we were.  We were blown away!  The food was spectacular! We now knew why the restaurant was still around after all the years that had passed - it was good food at good prices. So when you are in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and you are looking for a restaurant that serves good food at a reasonable price, go to Table Talk Restaurant located on Duke Street. You will not be disappointed. 
Located across the street from the Residence Inn Old Town in Alexandria, VA
Menu for Table Talk Restaurant
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Grilled pork chops
Classic Fish n Chips Platter
With our bellies full we headed across the street to our hotel to rest.  Tomorrow would bring new adventures as we headed to southern Virginia. 

Below you will find a map of the places we visited on Day 2 of our trip.  

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Thank you for reading my blog & may God bless you each day of your travels.