When you live in a town like Eldersburg, Maryland, you don’t usually answer truthfully when people ask you where you’re from.
It’s not that I have anything against Eldersburg but even people who live in Maryland have never heard of it. So there’s no real point of reference.
It’s actually a little suburb that’s about 20 miles outside of Baltimore and 40 miles outside of Washington, DC, give or take. So usually I mention that I live “near” one of these cities, depending on who I’m talking to.
That being said, you’d think I’d already know both of these cities quite well. But when you live in a nice little suburban town, you don’t go into the city (either one) unless you have a purpose.
This past weekend, our purpose was to head back into Washington, DC for a little family getaway.
Yes, DC is drivable for us but there’s so much to do and see (and eat!) that it’s nice to spend some dedicated time away from home enveloped in such a beautiful, green city.
We were invited back to DC as guests of Modus Hotels. You might remember that we did a family staycation at The Normandy Hotel last summer, which is also part of Modus Hotels. But you’ll find that our stay at The River Inn was nothing much like our stay at the Normandy.
That’s because Modus Hotels operates intentionally to create unique boutique (hey – that rhymes!) hotel experiences in some of the most unexpected locations.
For this trip, we stayed at a beautiful property called The River Inn, which is situated on 25th Street NW, in an area known as Foggy Bottom. We couldn’t have asked for a better location for what we had planned and what our family travel style is like.
The River Inn is perfect for family stays in DC
While I should probably do a little research on a property before I stay, I still look to be surprised and delighted when visiting a new hotel. And that’s exactly what The River Inn did.
Situated on a mostly residential street, you’ll find this small hotel nestled among trees with a beautiful little courtyard out front. It’s easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for but there’s always space out front for arriving guests to unload and bright green lights enveloping the trees if you’re arriving at night.
We arrived late (in true Nally family fashion) and were greeted by the friendliest front desk clerk who made sure we had our pick of fresh apples at the front desk. We passed off our keys for valet parking and headed up to… check out the room. (cue dramatic music)
Wow – it’s so big and so nice! And look at the welcome gifts they left me! Ooh, there’s a kitchenette and this sofa pull out for a bed!
Most of those words came from me right after I said DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. I NEED TO TAKE PICTURES FIRST.
(If you’re a blogger, you’ll totally get that part.)
Everything about the room was perfect from the large picture window to the amount of space we all had to spread out.
But even better than the room (where we spent time relaxing, not just using it as “a place to sleep”) was the location.
Walkable to everything touristy
If you’ve never been to DC, you’re going to want to head to the Mall, a green area surrounded by all of the Smithsonian buildings and accessible to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and U.S. Capitol.
We’re usually reluctant walkers (mainly because of my son and his flat feet) but I convinced everyone to enjoy the relaxing 1.6 mile walk early in the day with a stop for breakfast.
TIP: If you’re looking for a cheap, easy, and delicious breakfast, stop and get a Chai tea and breakfast sandwich at Capitol Grounds Coffee. They also have bagels, yogurt, juices, and coffee for everyone else in the family.
Walking also allows you to take in the flavor of the city before you get overwhelmed with monumental architecture.
Check out art for art’s sake
I’ve never been a huge art lover, maybe because I’m not that knowledgable about it, but I really wanted to check out the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum. Even though it’s part of the Smithsonian, I had never visited. I thought tangible art, like sculpture might be more appealing to the family and I really, really wanted to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibit on display.
Well, I couldn’t get tickets. It’s an extremely popular exhibit with a limited number of timed entry passes. Even if I could have gotten them, I’m not sure my family would have endured the long waits to get in. So instead, we checked out some pretty visually interesting pieces and I learned that my son has a very sharp sarcastic wit. I may need to help him tone that down a bit.
Next stop… a protest in action!
Since I picked out our morning activity, I let the boys (mainly my son – my husband doesn’t always get a say and he’s fine with that) pick out lunch (thank you, Shake Shack) and the afternoon activity. But first…
On our way to the next stop, we ran right smack into a protest in DC on clean energy. At least that’s what I think it was about. We saw signs opposing Trump, opposing fracking, encouraging clean air, and some that really didn’t seem to have a point.
But it was an experience for Evan to see and sparked some great discussion over lunch about our right to protest and the legal way to organize something like that.
(Honestly, he was more concerned about the traffic implications from the closed streets than from the actual issues of clean energy.)
Going undercover at the International Spy Museum
I had heard mixed reviews about the International Spy Museum but it was on Evan’s must-do list. I found a great new (to me) site that offered amazingly cheap discount tickets to the Spy Museum and off we went.
Upon entering, we each picked a spy persona and were required to memorize information about our “cover” so we could complete our “mission.”
I’m happy to report that I could totally pass as 33 year old German astronomer, Greta Schmidt. So next time you need to smuggle a microdot of sensitive information, let me know the dead drop spot and I’m your girl.
See everything I learned there?
Actually, we spent a good few hours looking and reading everything. It was a fascinating look at the world of spies, both good and bad, during history, the Cold War, and into the fictional world of James Bond.
I highly recommend the museum for kids of reading age who might be interested in this stuff.
Rest, relaxation, and a casual family dinner
While the hotel made a few recommendations for dinner, we were ready for a casual dinner close to the hotel before relaxing back in the room. So I relied on my mad Google skills and found a nearby restaurant that was only an 8 minute walk.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend District Commons, which featured amazing food that we all loved – and they even have a kids menu!
If you don’t feel like going out, there’s an excellent restaurant in the hotel, DISH + drinks, which also caters to room service requests. I recommend the crabcake salad!
Planning a family trip to DC?
The great thing about a city like Washington, DC, is there is always something new to discover and chances are pretty good that it’s free.
If you’re visiting, I’d love for you to check out all of the Modus Hotels properties which are located in various parts of the city and each offer a different vibe.
Modus Hotels, a Washington DC Lifestyle Hotel Company with distinct hotels in multiple cities, provided me with a complimentary two-night stay at The River Inn. There may be some affiliate links in this post.