I'll take a weekend in NYC anytime of the year. It's such easy access when you take the train from Union Station in DC to Penn Station which is right in the heart of the city. Aline and I never come up for long periods of time so when we do we try to see a different part of the city. As we have the last few trips, we used Priceline to get our hotel which means we only knew the rating of the hotel - and I requested the Soho area. We were placed in a really great hotel called Nomo Soho (nomosoho.com). It was a fantastic location right in one of the prime fashion districts. It was right up my alley being Andy Warhol inspired. The major highlight on this trip for me was High Line park. It is a 1.45 mile long linear park that is raised because it used to be train tracks. It's a city oasis because there is nature all around. Since it was Winter we didn't see the lushness but I can't wait to come back when there are plants and flowers in bloom because they line the entire park. It was an amazing birds-eye view of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. We took an Uber from Soho and asked that the driver drop us off at the Whitney Museum of American Art which was the perfect spot because it dropped us off right at the base of the stairs to the park. After we walked the park we went to Chelsea Market for some lunch. It's a fancy foodcourt essentially and is great people watching. The one night that we were here we met up with some friends at Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village. It is an extremely intimate jazz club and with your tickets you can stay late into the night watching different bands perform. There is also a sister club across the street that is equally as intimate and you are able to back and forth. By the end of the weekend I was so creatively inspired that I stopped by an art store and picked up some art books to hopefully get to work myself.
Aline and I decided to take a somewhat last minute trip to Chincoteague, VA. We knew we wanted to go somewhere but we knew it would have to be a fairly fast trip. I had been when I was a kid and remembered the wild horses but unfortunately the weekend we chose was just days after the horses had been corraled and sold. The remaining ones were being kept in a pen that was far away from the public. We saw them but just at a distance. None walking on the beach like I had hoped! However, it was a beautiful beach (mosquitoes aside). We stayed in town at the Island Resort (islandresortinn.com) which was right on the water and every room had a great view. To get to the beach was further than I realized but only because you have to drive into Assateague State Park in order to access it. Once you were in though you could drive right up to the beach. This isn't the sort of beach with a boardwalk and restaurants so you need to come prepared with some food. Or if you want to take a break from the sun there are some really charming restaurants that are really like food trucks in size. The Farmer's Daughter had great service and food. The owner was really friendly and we chatted as we waited for our food. We also enjoyed Woody's Beach BBQ. The one night that we were here we walked around town and did some of the more touristy things like play miniature golf (my wife scored a hole in one on the 18th to get us a free game! Alas, we knew we'd be leaving!). So if you are looking for a rustic beach destination you'll definitely get a more natural setting at this beach than most in the DC area. And if you're lucky you might see a horse walk up to you on the beach;)
No better city to spend our one year wedding anniversary than San Francisco. Using Priceline's "Name your Price" we were placed in the Sir Francis Drake hotel on Powell Street which was right in the heart of Nob Hill and Union Square. It was in a great centralized location that allowed us easy access to the rest of the city. The weather didn't cooperate entirely since it was raining almost the entire time but it allowed us to explore some things we probably wouldn't have such as the Musee Mecanique (www.museemecaniquesf.com). This "museum" if you want to call it that takes up an entire pier and is filled with arcade games going back to the 1800s. They are all fully functioning and playable. We went through Chinatown. Then wandered along the piers - and the stores - and made a special stop to see the seals at Pier 39. Then wandered up to Ghirardelli Square for chocolate deliciousness. Of course walked the extremely crooked Lombard Street and kept going until we could look down at Alcatraz Island which we later got a closer look at when we went by on a ferry on our way to Sausalito. This was all fun but one of the most special places to me was Muir Woods. It was an easy day trip and so worth it to see the spectacularly tall trees that are only in the region. We took one trolly just for fun but the bottom line is it was a lot of walking!!
There are a lot of reasons why this festival is so much fun. 1) You get to fly kites and act like a kid. 2) Everyone around you is in a great mood. 3) The visual of colorful kites in the sky against the backdrop of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial is really amazing. This was the first year that I participated. It was an overcast day that started with very low winds so it took a few hours for the wind to pickup and for everyone to get their kites in the air. But hey, even running around like a fool trying to get a kite in the air is super fun. Added bonus is that when you are done you can walk around and look at the Cherry Blossoms.
I live in Maryland and work in Virginia so you would think that stopping by galleries in DC would be a no-brainer but it's not as easy to fit in as I'd like. Every once in a while there is an exhibit downtown that I go out of my way to see and the Renwick's current exhibit was definitely one of them. It was imaginative, whimsical, playful, colorful, and pretty amazing. I know that photos of other people's artwork may be frowned upon but sometimes I'm really inspired by it and feel the need to internalize it through my own photographic perspective. It's just the way I take in the world. I'm only posting one of the pieces but it was my favorite. It was fun to watch people inspect the strings in a "how did the artist do that?!" sort of way.
My wife and I spent an early 6 month anniversary in Chicago. I hadn't been since I was a child and my wife had never been. We found some cheap airline tickets but quickly saw that hotels are quite expensive in the heart of Chicago on a weekend. We decided to try Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" hotel feature and it worked out nicely. It gives you the option to choose different tiers of hotels and gives you a comparison to what your hotel will be similar to so you don't have to go in completely blind. The hotel we got was right on the Magnificent Mile so it was perfect for our short 4 day weekend. We saw as much as we could and really hit the ground running! The scale of the skyscrapers is something that you need to experience in person. You simply can't capture the magnitude with a camera. That was my biggest takeaway photographically! The dramatic setting of the skyscrapers overlooking the skyline and Lake Michigan was absolutely inspiring. Mix in some upscale shopping, deep dish pizza, coffee on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building, standing on "The Ledge" at the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), spending an afternoon at the Science and Industry Museum, walking around Millennium Park and along the Chicago River, and stopping by the zoo before seeing the best comedy and improv we've ever seen at Second City made our weekend a blast! It was also special to be able to ride the Navy Pier carousel the day before it was knocked down to build a new-and-improved model. Next time we will plan to go to the top of the John Hancock or Willis Tower again because we were told that (on a clear day!) you can see 4 states but unfortunately it was too foggy during our trip.
It was an incredibly moving experience to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (http://www.911memorial.org) in New York City so close to the anniversary. As you venture deep underground you see the twisted steel beams and the foundation that was once beneath the two Twin Towers. You hear the stories of those that were there on the day of the tragedy and it makes it come alive in a way that I hadn't experienced first hand before. I definitely recommend visiting it at some point in your life. It was a nice contrast to walk the streets upon leaving and seeing the resiliency and energy of the city. It is unlike anywhere else in the world.
Planning my wedding and honeymoon definitely took a lot of my focus but it was all worth it. The ceremony was at Mount Saint Mary's (my wife's alma mater) in Maryland and reception was at Liberty Mountain ski resort in Pennsylvania. It was a really beautiful day with friends and family. We left for the Exhumas, Bahamas, two days after our wedding and had a relaxing seven day stay at Sandals. I have never been to an all-inclusive resort but I thoroughly enjoyed sitting by the pool and beach after an intense 8 months of wedding planning. The crystal clear water in this part of the Bahamas is just as beautiful in person as it is in photos. Although we stayed on the resort most of the time, we did get out on a boat one day for a tour and especially to see the swimming pigs!