DC/NoVA Adventures ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

On September 17th, 2020, the memorial dedicated to Dwight D. Eisenhower was dedicated in Washington, DC. Located within a short walking distance of the Capitol Building in DC, the memorial is designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is also the architect behind such well-known buildings as the Guggenheim Building in Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. The memorial sits on a 4-acre park and includes two large pillars, several statues, and quotes from Eisenhower. Not only does it depict scenes from his Presidency, but it also pays important attention to his childhood and the importance of Abilene, Kansas, as well as paying homage to his military service. Several artists contributed to the memorial, including Nicholas Waite Benson who was the inscription artist. Benson has also inscribed the WWII, Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials. The large stainless steel tapestry depicts the beaches of Normandy, which connect Eisenhower’s service and the peace he maintained during the President. The two large pillars on either side of the memorial are the height of the cliffs of Normandy that American soldiers had to climb that day.






Who was Eisenhower?

I consider Eisenhower to be an interesting sort of President. While I wouldn’t consider him as unknown as say Rutherford B. Hayes or a Chester Arthur, but I WOULD consider him to be unassuming. What exactly did he do? The site location of the memorial as a whole was chosen carefully to connect parts of DC politics that are connected to Eisenhower. It is surrounded by the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Air and Space, Voice of America, and the Federal Aviation Administration. President Eisenhower was the first president to direct federal aid to education, signed legislation to the department that preceded the Dept of Health and Human Services, lead the charge in creating the Air Force, creating the Air Force Academy, and helped create the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The list goes on and on of the small of significant parts of history that Eisenhower had an impact on.

A behind-the-scenes impact

The impact of Eisenhower rings loudly today as we think about the quiet steps that Eisenhower took to impact positive change, presiding over eight years of peace and prosperity in the United States. He sent troops down south to help enforce desegregation, pushed for the desegregation of Washington DC, and completed the desegregation of the military that had begun before his election. He also signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. And despite all the drama surrounding the design and creation of the memorial I love its simplicity and symbolism and hope that that shines through and inspires visitors to learn more about him.


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American History Museum

National Inventors Hall of Fame

Eisenhower Memorial Pinterest

National Inventors Hall of Fame

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#dcnovaadventures Smithsonian American History Museum

With my parents in town we made our way to the Smithsonian American History Museum. They had never been, and we hadn’t checked it out in awhile. They have done some changes in their displays since we’ve been, and it was neat to see what they had changed up.

Places of Invention and American Enterpise

The Places of Invention and American Enterprise sections were new to me and had some really cool things. Within those exhibits you can trace Advertising across the decades – from radio to television ads and other things that trace American democracy and capitalism through the decades. There was a docent on hand who happened to be talking about the Altair 8800 and went into more detail about the period of history. That is what I love about the Smithsonians!

The First Ladies

The First Ladies section has been a mainstay of the museum, and they have added the additions of Michelle Obama and Melania. Melania’s dress in person, from the inauguration, is hands down the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen. Michelle’s which I was absolutely nuts for in photographs and on the tv screen, didn’t translate well in person. Fashion like that is always fascinating to me. Dresses on hangers can look terrible until you put it on. Hillary Clinton’s Inauguration dress is also a top favorite for me, and she looked gorgeous in it. Some of my daughter’s favorites included Jackie Kennedy’s pale yellow State Dinner dress and this beautiful one shoulder sequin dress worn by Nancy Reagan.

Music and Innovation

The Smithsonian also added a small jazz section where they housed instruments from famous jazz and regular musicians, like Poncho Sanchez and Willie Smith. Hang around for a meal and head to the Jazz Cafe, where you can enjoy a bite to eat while listening to jazz.


Super Heroes

The Super Heroes collection showcases the evolution of super heroes through the decades, showcasing comic books and various memorabilia including Captain America’s Shield and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman Costume. Of course you can also get your photo next to Val Kilmer’s Batmobile! This Exhibit runs through January 12, 2020.

In ‘American Stories’ you can see a part of Plymouth Rock, check out Apolo Ohno’s speed skates and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves. Moving pieces of the exhibit include a living mask of Abraham Lincoln and the video camcorder that caught the first plane going into the Twin Towers. This exhibit will be rotating and will take the opportunity to share different pieces that represent our American history – from well known pieces to lesser known like ornate Firefighter hats from the 1700/1800s. I like this exhibit particularly because it contains a wide variety of artifacts from those with typical historical appeal to old toys and pieces from many time periods all in one space. Items that you might not typically see all in one place.

Another new exhibit that we didn’t have time to get to was called ‘American Democracy: A Leap of Faith. This exhibits shows us items that highlight the fight for democracy and the path to achieving it, including everyday citizen’s and their participation. It looks really neat and I can’t wait to get back to check it out.

As always, this is a hit for families, and my kids (especially the older two who are 13 and 11) really enjoyed it. It also really highlights a lot that Washington DC has to offer visitors in one place because of the variety of items displayed and significance of the items (with the crowing glory being the Star Spangled Banner).

I think living here we can sometimes take these museums for granted, maybe we visit once or when family comes into town. But the exhibits change frequently and you might miss something really cool. The free museums in our area are truly incredible, and while going into the city might be a frustrating prospect to some, its something that is so worth it in my opinion.

happy learning!

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10 Coffee Shops to Visit in DC/Virginia

I love coffee….like really love it! I’ve been drinking it for way too long and I can still remember my first fancy coffee. It was way back before there was a Starbucks on every corner and local mom & pop shops were king {although I feel like that is really making a comeback!}. I was in sixth grade and my friends and I walked to this no-name shop that I can’t remember and I ordered an iced hazelnut latte. I had no idea what I was doing and I’m fairly certain I didn’t like it because you will NEVER catch me ordering a hazelnut flavored anything these days. When a drive-through coffee shop opened on our way to church I started ordering a Monkey Mocha there – a regular mocha with banana flavoring. I know, so weird. These days you’ll find me drinking some form of a cinnamon latte. The sweetness I used to adore has gone by the wayside and I’m a less is more kinda gal. I’ve spent the last four months really exploring the local coffee shop scene here and I will say that it is much harder for a gal in the burbs to get a non-chain cup of coffee. I have to drive far in most cases, but it’s worth it. So today I’m sharing nine places you should check out!

Compass Coffee – Locations in DC and one in Virginia – Founded by two marines, Compass leads you to the right coffee. They are very intentional and focused when it comes to the types of coffee they bring to their customers. Take the time to read about their coffee beans and their single-origin coffees as well. What is a must-try though is their cold-brew, which you can get in a giant growler and take with you. I’ve also come across Compass Coffee in my local whole foods! This is a great story of a local shop that is growing and is the perfect example of what I like to call a local chain, and that is something I can get behind.

Caboose Commons –  2918 Eskridge Rd, Fairfax, VA – This place is my newest discovery, and actually, I came here for happy hour with some girlfriends because Caboose is a local brewery! I was pleased to discover that they are also opening the morning for coffee and such. So, I packed up my computer and headed over to get some work done. It is probably one of the coolest places day or night, but especially at night. Bring your kids and your dogs for some relaxing time out on their huge patio area. Parents can order their drinks right from the table, which is a really cool thing. I can’t wait for the day I can order food right from the patio! #lazy I would absolutely recommend coming back and ordering their sweet chili wings, pretzel balls, and truffle fries.

De Clieu Coffee – 10389 Main Street, Fairfax VA – Located in the Old Fairfax area is the adorable De Clieu Coffee. It’s also conveniently a short walk to my favorite record store, Mobius Records. They serve all-day breakfast, unique sandwiches and funky drinks like Love Potion #9 and Dirty Hippie Chai. My favorite is the Makers Mark Latte, which house made makers mark syrup and a little bit of a chocolate flavor.

Saxbys Coffee3500 O St NW, Washington, DC – While this is the location that I am known to frequent you can find a few locations in the DC area. Saxby’s is also in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and even Atlanta, Georgia.  Also, no two Saxby’s are the same so you’ll have to check out the menu for your location, but you can be guaranteed to find unique coffees. At the location I go to there is a cinnamon sugar cookie, a s’more latte and cinnamon honey (which in all honesty is more honey than cinnamon so I would go light on that if I were you). The bonus of visiting the one in Georgetown is that its right across from the Greenworks Florist, which is the most adorable bright pink and green building!

Blue Bottle Coffee – While Blue Bottle isn’t technically a local chain I sort of view it that way. It’s local in spirit, which means it keeps things from feeling large-scale chain like if that makes any sense. You can also purchase Blue Bottle coffee at Whole Foods, Safeway, Dean & Deluca and more. They also have the most amazing avocado toast I’ve ever had! They are very serious about their coffee and roasting, providing detail and education so that you can have the best coffee drinking experience. Their cold brew is fantastic and you can even get it made with oat milk. Other than the DC area you can find Blue Bottle in San Diego, the Bay Area, Boston, New York and in several Asian countries as well!

{Anna Darlak Photography}

Gathering Grounds – Situated near the local university this deceptively large coffee shop is perfect for getting some school work done, meeting up with friends or getting a pick me up. The staff was nice and helped me order one of their specialty drinks. I love when a coffee shop creates drinks that are unique to them and show a little local color. Get the chocolate croissant here too! They are yummy!

29th Parallel Coffee 5616 H-Ox Road, Fairfax, VA – In my search for small coffee shops I came across 29th Parallel, tucked in a super residential area in a weirdly situated strip mall. I had never even noticed this strip mall was there before. That’s the thing about this Northern Virginia area. It is so huge and there are so many houses and people, there are places that I still have never seen or been to. That’s why I love taking a tour of certain types of places, like Coffee Shops, who knows what you’ll find or where it will lead you? 29th is a little on the smaller side, but plenty of seating, quiet atmosphere that is perfect for working. They claim it on the website and you can tell when you visit, that they have an obsession with their coffee and making it perfect for their customers. Try out their nitro, siphon, pour over and other specialty coffees like the Chemex, which is an old-fashioned way of making coffee originating in 1942! They also have a crazy Coffee/Tonic Water drink that is so cool to watch them make. 29th is a unique experience and one you MUST have.

Detour Coffee 946 N. Jackson Street, Arlington, VA – Topping my list is probably Detour Coffee. Along with De Clieu, Detour is among my regular stops when I’m working from home. They have a large menu of breakfast and lunch items and there is so much seating here. You can choose from a large family-style hightop table, booths, table, and chairs or oversized leather chairs. Each booth has a charging station, with cell phone charging plugs as well. It was literally made for getting work done. The one thing that is a huge bummer about Detour is the parking. There are about eight spots out front and the street parking is about a block away. If you are metro or Lyft traveler you’ll be in great shape, but for those of us traveling by car (which is easier for me) I always cross my fingers and toes that I’ll get a close spot. The street parking is also metered because it’s in Arlington. So, overall not the easiest to get to but still one of my favorites! And what is also important to note is that Detour coffee is all locally sourced from Vigilante Coffee in Highland, Maryland, which is also pretty awesome.

The Swiss Bakery 5224 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA – One of the first local coffee shops I went to when we moved here about seven years ago was the Swiss Bakery. Its sort of a local treasure and a place almost everyone I talk to around here knows about. Its frequently the place different groups of friends want to meet, and I almost always see someone I know when I’m in there. It is also way more than just a coffee shop, serving breakfast and lunch foods, as well as all sorts of Swiss delights (think chocolates, wine, and other cool stuff like that). And as if that wasn’t enough its a full on bakery – making cakes, cookies, tarts, and fresh bread daily! It is another really cool place that you have to check out when you’re in this part of the burbs.


Cervantes Coffee Roasters 7644 Fullerton Road, Springfield, VA – Cervantes is a Women-Owned business in Northern Virginia dedicated to roasting and serving amazing coffee. It is definitely a unique, artisan type place full of its own unique charm. They focus on single-origin and “roast to order” coffee, which I think makes them even cooler. They also ship their coffee to over fifteen states and three countries to be served in churches, business, and homes! Cervantes is also dedicated to coffee education, with their blog and special classes they host, like home roasting, brewing techniques, and latte art! Perfect place to meet with friends, get some work done and try one of their many unique coffee drinks! You will love it!


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Best Moscow Mules in the Washington, DC Area

The Moscow Mule is a relatively simple drink, one which you might not think you can get wrong. However, I’ve had some really bad mules. First, if it’s not served in a copper mug you know that you’re dealing with people that don’t appreciate the mule. The type of ginger beer used is also key. You want that nice ginger flavor, but you don’t want it to be too overpowering. You have the lime and mint in there as well, so you’re really looking for a nice blend of all of those flavors. I don’t necessarily write a place off if they don’t serve it in a copper mug, but it goes a long way in telling me that they know what they are doing. True Mule aficionados will tell you that the copper mug is key for several reasons. First of all the temperature, the copper keeps that drink cold in a way that a regular class or plastic cup cannot. Some mule drinkers and bartenders will offer more complex arguments for the copper mug, for example, increasing the bubbles in the carbonated ginger beer, while some suggest that it really maximizes the flavors of the lime and mint. Whatever the case may be, make sure you get that first (and frankly any if you ask me) Mule served in Copper Cup. First coming to popularity in the early 40s, the Mule has continued to develop with many restaurants throwing their own special twist on them, one of which I include here!


Mike’s American Grill

{Springfield, Virginia}

Mike’s, located in the bubs of DC (Springfield, Virginia) is a staple in the area. It is always busy, and you can frequently expect a wait. If you don’t have a large group you can find the whole menu served in the bar area, which is surprisingly very large. Mike’s is good food, good atmosphere, amazing steak, interesting appetizers like the Southwest Egg Rolls which are my favorite. They also do not disappoint and bring you your Mule served in a copper mug!

Founding Farmers

{Washington, DC}

Last year I had my first experience in a Founding Farmers. Dc-ers rave about this place, especially for its desserts and drinks. Founding Farmers is unique in that family farmers of the NDFU (North Dakota Farmer’s Union) are majority owners in the business, bringing a certain level of excellence to the experience when it comes to the food. Founding Farmers is also the owner of several of their own spirits, produced in partnership with Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, VA. They also have opened their own distillery, Founding Spirits, where they produce Vodka and American Whiskey. So, right out the gate you know they take their alcohol seriously. Of all of the traditional Mule’s I’ve tried here in the DC area this one might be my very favorite!

Martin’s Tavern

{Georgetown, Washington, DC}

Celebrating 86 years in the Georgetown DC area, Martin’s clearly knows what they are doing. Providing amazing Irish tavern food in a warm and classic environment, with recipes that have stood the test of time. Martin’s is a great place to take visiting friends and family because of its unique historical and political background. Find a table and you’ll also get a fun political history of who sat their regularly. Enjoy the same space that Presidents, Senators and Ambassadors once did, where they came after a long day on the hill to unwind and have a drink. Who knows how many decisions or deals were actually made here? For a more romantic flare make reservations at the Proposal Booth where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Martin’s does a Mule right. A classic drink for a classic joint.

For a fun date night idea check out my post here, and enjoy a night in Georgetown!

The Block Food Hall

{Annandale, Virginia}

One of the only ones to serve a traditional mule, not in a copper mug, this one makes the list simply because you have to go! It is one of the coolest places in the burbs and one of the weirdest. First of all the location is crazy. Tucked into a strip mall next to a Kmart (which is now closed) you wouldn’t even know this place was there unless you were looking for it. Step inside and you completely forget where you are. A traditional food-hall greets you, and everything has an Asian twist. From the Asian-American fusion entrees to the Poke and the sno-cream. You will have to go back to eventually try everything. Even the bar food is amazing! Here, at the Block Bar, you can snag a super yummy Mule! One of the sweeter versions of the Mule I have had (from the type of Ginger Beer they use), it is still fantastic and worth a try.

The People’s Drug

{Alexandria, Virginia}

The People’s Drug is a modern take on the familiar People’s Drug Store which first made its appearance in Alexandria in 1905. It takes its cue from the original concept which was a traditional counter-style lunch cafe and general store. As the world modernized the lunch counter concept became a thing of the past, but the owners of The People’s Drug sought to bring that classic feeling back. People’s is a small place, which a few tables inside and out, and obviously the traditional lunch/bar counter. It is easy for this place to be crowded, but it is worth braving the crowds to snag yourself the Mule and the Herb parmesan truffle french fries! Aside from the classic drinks, you can also find some quirky season drinks like the Jabberwocky and the Widow’s Kiss. It is worth noting that the People’s Signature Mule isn’t made with vodka, but instead is made with Old Forrester Signature Bourbon in a “Kentucky Mule” style, with two types of bitters. So clearly worth whatever crowds you might have to brave! If I’m not drinking a tradtional mule, this is where I want to be for my favorite non-traditional mule!

The Yard House

{Chinatown – Washington, DC – Springfield Town Center, Virginia – Multiple US Locations}

Last but not least we have the Yard House, with the most diverse Mule menu on this list. Not only can you get the traditional Moscow Mule made with New Amsterdam Vodka, but you can also grab yourself an Irish Mule made with Jameson Whiskey and two other twists on the classic drink unique to The Yard House. My favorite is the Mayan Mule made with Tequila. Tequila is typically not alcohol I will go with, but the Yard House muddles of fresh fruit to really complete the drink. Also on the list is the Hawaiian Mule, made with Pineapple Vodka. So, if you’re feeling adventurous head over to one of the Yard House locations and try their mules. These mules win the favorite creative versions of a classic drink. No boring Mules here!

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The World is Your Oyster at Roy Boy’s

In the Shakespeare Play, The Merry Wives of Windsor,  we hear the phrase “The World is thine Oyster.” The original meaning of the phrase is a little more on the intense side then we modern-day folks might mean, but the gist of it is the same. The world is ours to enjoy! What better place to enjoy then by having some mouthwatering chicken and biscuits? I was so excited and lucky to be able to check out the new Shaw eatery Roy Boys DC. First, let’s talk about the vibe in this place. From the fluorescent green lighting, dark walls and bright pops of color, the atmosphere is everything you would want. Small seating areas for date nights, booths, and a more family style seating option make Roy Boys the perfect place for whatever type of night you want.

The tag line is Fried Chicken and Oysters, and both of those things are seriously on point. The CCB, which is fried chicken and biscuits with bacon, apple, onion jam, and sausage gravy, is absolutely to die for! The Oysters Rockefeller was expected to be just fine. I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of Oysters. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I ate one and was like “Awesome, order that again!” Well, here I am to tell you that these Oysters were amazing! But perhaps the coolest thing on the menu is the dessert. The ice cream tacos, with waffle cone shell. The ice cream simple and not too sweet, the fresh and creative ingredients on the top – I might go just for dessert. However, I wouldn’t be a self-proclaimed Old Fashioned expert if I didn’t talk about the Old Fashioned at Roy Boys. Nothing is done by the book here at Roy Boys, always thinking a little outside of the box and putting their own twist on things. Same goes for the Old Fashioned and the expert mixologist, putting a special twist on it. One of the best Old Fashioneds I’ve had in the city, with house-made bitters to boot. You’re going to have to go to find out what the other ingredients are, but it will be worth it.

Happy Hour is the perfect time to check out Roy Boys for the first time! Score $10 craft cocktails and $8 apps! On Mondays you can score $1 Oysters all day!

Make the world your oyster and head to Roy Boys!! 

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