WAS 04Jul14

Last month I was lucky enough to co-host Infinity’s first ever educational to Washington – boy – what have we been waiting for?!?! What an amazing city! Hand on heart I can say the group and I had a trip of a lifetime, experiencing this jewel of the US East Coast. Our trip also saw us stopover in Los Angeles and check out Santa Monica – my first time here and
now a favourite!

United Airlines
Our trip saw us fly United Airlines on their Boeing 747-400 via San Francisco going over and Los Angeles on the way back. Check-in was fine, pretty stock standard. Onboard service was ok. April saw the airline introduce a touch screen entertainment system, good choices of movies, music and travel info.

Economy is divided into two cabins and we were lucky enough to be seated in Economy Plus where the biggest difference seat pitch, it was definitely noticeable and made for quite a comfortable flight. Food and beverages were decent – but alcohol was an extra expense. On arrival into IAH, its about a 30-45 minute drive, definitely recommend transfers. The domestic airport DCA is only about a 10 minute drive so clients could cab it if they wanted.

Holiday Inn Capitol – 3*
What a nice surprise! it was great to see that it is actually awesome value and in a great location! Situated a stones through away from the National Mall, close to so many museums and other attractions, you can pretty much get to anywhere from the hotel’s location. The closet metro is L’Enfant Plaza and it takes about 7 minutes to get to downtown. The hotel is pretty much like any Holiday Inn, good size rooms which feel fresh, good size bathrooms. The hotel has a small breaky buffet restaurant and then another good restaurant and bar.

Monuments Bike Tour
Even through the torrential rain that poured the morning of our bike tour, it was one of the best things we did in the few days we were in DC. I suppose I just forget about the rain and see the overall experience this tour brings and DC is the perfect place for a bike tour. The city’s pretty flat so it’s great fun and not too strenuous.

Our tour saw us stop at the National Mall, Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Our guide was amazing, did a really good job on commentary and keeping it interesting, had good character and took it really well that we had to cut our tour short due to the rain, wind and freezing temps!

Tours usually last about 3-4hrs, I would do again in a heart beat…without having to wear an ugly poncho.

Lupo Verde Restaurant 
Situated about 3 blocks from U Street Metro Station, just a heads up – this is seriously THE BEST Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy, hands down, if you’re ever in DC – do yourselves and anyone else going a favour and try this place out!

Whether you’re a museum buff of not, I don’t think a visit to DC is complete without at least some time spent here. Dedicated to bringing the news of the world together from the past and the present in one 7 storey space, I’ve never been anywhere like this.

So much to see in the various galleries, theatres, exhibits and displays, there is seriously something for everyone. Never did I think in my lifetime would I see the top spire from one of the WTC Towers from the 9/11 attacks, or sections of the Berlin Wall – but I did, here! We only got about an hour of free time but you could easily spend a whole day here!

Capitol Building
Without going into masses of detail of what the Capitol Building is, what it stands for etc, if you’re a little clueless as I was previously, its basically America’s epicenter of politics. Filled with so much history, grandeur architectures and the home of US Congress, its definitely worth a visit!

Hotel Helix, A Kimpton Hotel – 3.5*
This quirky boutique property was a nice stylish surprise. Located in the Logan Circle area of downtown DC, I really loved the feel of this hotel. Set in a residential street, again, so easy to get around from the property. I say quirky because it’s very chic and alternative in some of its décor – I think it would be one of those properties that people either love or hate.

Rooms are all each individually styled, large layouts but really small bathrooms, bit annoying. The hotel has a small breaky area withcourtyard where ale carte breakfast can be purchased (coffee and tea is complimentary), this space is then also used for the hotel’s daily complimentary Hosted Evening Wine Hour.

DC Metro Food Tours
We had a great night out in Georgetown on a Pub Crawl run by DC Metro Food Tours. Really laid back, fun, informative and the places we went to were just so authentically American! Each establishment is a bit different and the guide will run through a few facts on each.
Drinks and food are included and a few fun drinking challenges maybe included along the way. These guys offer lots of different tours, which would be great for all sorts of travellers.

Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets
Good sized outlets – shopper’s delight! That was really it in DC. I was surprised how small the city was to what I thought it would be. It’s a perfect city to just get in and see things and not really have to plan how to get places etc – get a metro card, cab it – you’ll be right.

Also worth a mention is the presence of the Smithsonian Institute in DC (http://www.si.edu/) – its group of 16 museums/galleries/exhibits are all in DC and all FREE, so interesting and such a great opportunity for travelers that love that kind of stuff.

Its nice to see that not all things have an entrance fee attached to it, I was surprised, Go DC!! Los Angeles – Santa Monica On arrival into LAX we got transferred by Karmel 

Having never been to Santa Monica before, man was I stoked with it! First off, so close from the airport really when you think about it – compared to putting people in Hollywood/Beverley Hills where it’ll take at least an hour with traffic etc – Santa Monica / Marina Del Ray will at most probably take 30mins, a lot easier! And who doesn’t love to stay by the water !!!

Wyndham Santa Monica at the Pier – 3*
This used to be the Holiday Inn Santa Monica last year – good little property, best thing about it is the amazing location, literally a two minute walk to the Pier and about a 10 minute walk to the 3rd St Promenade, great shopping!! Offering standard and partial ocean view rooms, the hotel rooms are looking really updated and a decent size – really nice actually. Bathrooms are a decent size too. Breaky area is extremely basic, definitely eat out!

Pedal Or Not Bike Tour
Just wanted to make mention of this tour as you can see its listed as the #1 thing to do in Santa Monica! Tours are run by a lovely couple that have been in the business for so many years and lived in Santa Monica most their lives. There are loads of tour options but a highlight is that like the name suggests – you can pedal – OR NOT!!! Yep, electric bikes!

Personally, I was having a really bad day on the old “balancing and pedaling at the same time” front, I opted for electric – a bloody breeze !! Had loads of fun, we had a great guide and again were a bit time restricted so basically did a ride along the beach from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back – took about 1.5hrs but again that was a short version.

Written by Vicky Colovic, Infinity QLD