Since Linda and Larry are the best parents ever, it’s really exciting when they come to town. Not only does MOMMY like to putter around and tidy up my otherwise grody living quarters, but it also means getting to hang out in hotels, eat in restaurants that normally decline my Amex, and go to all the museums that usually make Snags hit the snooze button. Woopity!
Being that I have parental visitation rights this weekend, I’ve put together a quick guide below on how to do a family weekend in DC right. Take notes ya’ll.
Helping your parents choose the right hotel when they’re visiting is of the utmost importance. If you play it right, you may or may not have weekend-long access to a) a pool b) a sick hotel bar c) a fancy bathroom with better shower pressure than the slow Chinese Water Torture drip in your own bathroom, and d) legit people-watching.
Linds and Lar have stayed at the following spots in DC, with varying degrees of satisfaction:
Pros: Pool? Check. Historical significance? Check. (This is the spot where Reagan was shot back in the ’80s). Convenient Dupont location? Check plus.
Cons: This behemoth plays host to a lot of conventions, meaning that you may find yourself (like I did) fighting your way through throngs of librarians and/or triatheletes.
Pros: Amazing pool with limited numbers of loud children to ruin an afternoon of getting your freckle on. It’s also a Kimpton hotel, meaning that you get all the perks of a big chain while still feeling like you’re in a boutique setting. Nicely decorated and helpful staff.
Cons: The restaurant where they serve breakfast is weird bordering on wack. It’s in a basement that feels decidedly dungeon-like. Plus, the last time I was there we were seated next to a European geriatric treating a young lady who was obviously an expensive call girl to post-coital hash browns. It felt like one of those times where you’re watching a movie with your parents and a really graphic sex scene comes on and you don’t know whether to go grab a snack from the kitchen or to just wait it out. Blech.
The Tabard Inn
Pros: Great location in Dupont. So warm and homey you feel as if you could be staying at your memaw’s Washington townhouse. As home to one of my favorite DC restaurants, you may also very well get a bangin’ brunch out of your parents’ stay. The bar is amazing too.
Cons: No elevator and no bellhop, meaning you have to haul your bags up the stairs yourself. Also, my mom claims she heard mice scuttling around at night. Let’s hope it was a bad dream.
After one too many botched fancy dinners in St. Louis during college, I have learned the hard way not to overthink my restaurant choices when the parents are visiting. The fact of the matter is that Linda and Larry live in New York and eat better than Sam Sifton does (or did), so whatever the local “best of the best” may be, it’s just never going to impress them. I stick with places that are reliably tasty and that won’t give Sven a coronary when the bill comes. Also, the quieter the better.
Some of the restaurants I recommend for the parentals in DC:
Rasika – dank dank dank Indian food in the Penn Quarter. Unless you call months in advance, you’re not getting a reservation.
Aqua al 2 – adorable little Italian joint in Eastern Market that’s the sister restaurant to an equally delicious spot in Florence.
Central Michel Richard – the lower-budget, less stuffy Michel Richard outpost. I would sell my pinky toe for a lifetime supply of their fried chicken.
Estadio – Newish tapas restaurant in my neighborhood with great cocktails. The wait on the weekend is almost always “45 minutes to an hour,” so your best bet is to put your name down and take a stroll around Logan Circle to bide the time.
Oyamel – Awesome Jose Andres shop with great Mexican food. Try the grasshopper tacos, they’re actually pretty damn tasty (and very crunchy).
For some, the time in between meals is the hardest to plan for weekends with visiting parents. But even if you’ve tired of the typical monuments and museums, don’t fret. Here are my go-tos:
The Phillips Collection – A gem in the heart of Dupont, the Phillips is perfect for art lovers who are sick of the typical National Gallery/ Hirshhorn/ Corcoran circuit. Especially great if you’re a fan of the impressionists: the museum got its start as the home to Renoir’s famous “Luncheon of the Boating Party.”
Afternoon tea at the Willard – Even if you’re not lucky enough to have parents staying in the Plaza of DC, the Willard hosts afternoon tea every weekend in it’s tippy top drawer “Peacock Alley.” Think fur, long gloves, tiny sandwiches, and chintz.
Dupont farmers market – Right outside the north entrance to the Dupont metro, there is an enormous farmers market every Sunday morning. Perfect for a quick stroll or a longer tour of all the booths, which range from fresh produce, to prepared food, to gorgeous fresh-cut flowers. Come hungry, bring cash, and don’t wait until noon. Samples abound, but tend to run out toward the end.
Eastern Market – Think giant farmers market meets flea market meets super cute DC neighborhood. Just hop on the orange/blue and you’ve got yourself a full afternoon’s worth of activities. The indoor food part has a great spot for a bite to eat called Market Lunch – it’s super casual, and their fish sandwiches are to die for. The flea market outside tends to be well curated – less bargain box vintage clothing and more cool antique maps and rugs.