Stayed at the Hotel Madera right off DuPont Circle. This was a great choice for us. My wife and I took our 12 year old daughter for a tour of the city during her spring break. DuPont Circle was vibrant and exciting. There were a ton of restaurants on Connecticut; we had no problem finding good places to eat.
Hotel Madera: Had a room on the third floor. Two queen size beds were perfect for us. The tub and toilet area were small but the oversize granite sink area provided plenty of room for everyone’s stuff. We left the room everyday by 9 and didn’t return until about 5. Took naps and cleaned up before going out.
The folks at the Hotel Madera were very helpful. They did very quickly learn who you were and greeted us on coming and going. There was street noise but the hotel is in an active area and the ambulances/firetrucks go up New Hampshire frequently. This is like any other big city and we got used to it. The hotel served wine at 5 which was just as I was coming in from walking all day and it hit the spot.
We would definitely stay at the Hotel Madera again. Great location; good rooms; great staff.
DuPont Circle: Great location! We took the Metro (one block from the hotel) every morning to the attractions. The neighborhood has a lot of life. There were shops, restaurants and people everywhere. The weather was beautiful and everyone was out enjoying it. There was a 24 hour CVS drug store nearby; two book stores; a little grocery store and many shops and restaurants. I enjoyed the street musicians. There was a group of about 10 guys with horns and drums that really got going. There were about 100 people watching the show and tipping the guys.
Restaurants: We pretty much stayed in the DuPont Circle area because we were tired from so much walking during the day. We ate at Sala Thai – a chain but pretty good and very reasonable. Did Ruth’s Chris Steak house which was good as well. Tried to go to Al Tiramisou but couldn’t get in; went to the Odean on Connecticut instead and had a good meal. The restaurant opens its (huge) front doors during nice weather so the whole restaurant feels open. The meal was very good and reasonably priced. Last night there, we went to Tomatae. The weather was perfect so we ate outside. It was great watching the crowds and the food was very good. We also had lunch in Georgetown one day which was very good as well. Other than that, we ate hot dogs in the Mall for lunch which were acceptable. There was a Ben & Jerry’s right off the Metro station at DuPont Circle and we hit that every night for dessert.
Tours: I have been to DC many times before on business and would always walk everywhere. I think this is the best way to see the city and so we were on foot most of the time. The favorite museums were the Air and Space (with the smattering of things from the American History Museum); the Natural History Museum and the West Art Museum. We went through the Holocaust Museum which is very somber as one might expect. We went through all the memorials on the Mall, walked around the Capitol and the White House.
We walked down M street to Georgetown and back by way of Wisconsin and P street. Beautiful architecture. We missed the excitement of the Georgetown final four which had a ton of students out in the street.
Impressions: I haven’t been to DC since 2000 and much has changed. There is so much more security now. There were military helicopters doing routine circuits over the city. Every museum had elaborate security procedures- though we were able to get in with back pack and camera. We just opened the bags at the door and let the guards have a look. We couldn’t go up the Capitol steps which used to provide a great view of the Mall. Saw VP Cheney go by with a big motorcade including a couple of SUVs with guys with big automatic weapons pointed out at the folks on the street (me!) that was a bit unnerving.
I loved the city and loved the trip. Washington is still one of the best US destinations in my mind. My twelve year old loved it too. The cherry blossoms were just starting to peek out but there were a number of other flowering trees and bushes to look at.