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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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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7 Record Stores for Vinyl Lovers in the DC Metro Area

Shopping for vinyl is a big deal. It would be easy for me to simply hop on the Ebay and just buy exactly what I want, but 90% of the fun is flipping through the endless racks and searching for the one you want. The thrill in finding your own white whales is the best. If you’re like me you go to different record stores for different things. One might have a huge stock of rotating new arrivals, one might have a killer bargain section and one might be the one that has all the good jazz. After living here in the DC Metro Area for seven years I’ve found my rotation of record stores that I like to visit regularly. And while I do occasionally check out the local thrift stores, those are mostly good for classical and jazz records. Side note – I had a recent experience at a thrift store nearby where I actually think that someone just took a stack of their parent’s records and just dumped them at the thrift store. The records that were in this pile were insane! Blood, Sweat and Tears Greatest Hits, Best of Cream and the very first US Beatles record. Almost a week later and my brain is still trying to process it.

{click the image to get my record player and speakers!}

Anyway…on to the list!

R&R Records and Rarities ~ Springfield Town Center, Springfield

This place has a really large collection of records and this is where I’ve been able to score some of my white whales, and their pricing is fairly decent. They really make sure to rate the records well and I’ve never had an issue. The staff is extremely helpful, and because of their system, they can actually look up a record for you! If you aren’t in the mood to spend forever flipping through the records then that is an option for you. You would have thought such a great place would be in a shopping mall?

Mobius Records ~ 10409 Main Street, Fairfax

Located in the old town portion of Fairfax is Mobius Records, a smaller and funkier record shop. Mobius says that they specialize in new releases and reissues. I would absolutely agree. They have a great section of these types of records, and I would say that if you are going to look for your typical used vinyl you might not find it here. The staff is really amazing and will help you with anything. One time I walked in and was looking around and whatever was playing on the speakers I was like “I don’t know what this is, but I need this right now!” They walked over to the rack, found one for me and told me all about it. I love that. They interact with their customers which I think is another fun part of record shopping. They clearly love records as much as I do so we can talk about them while I shop around. My very favorite part about this store is their bargain section. While the shop might not have your typical selection of used vinyl, this section is where it’s at. I’ve found a lot of good jazz and more random rock n roll stuff in there for only a couple of dollars. IT is probably one of the better bargain sections in this whole list.

Record and Tape Exchange ~ 9448 Main St, Fairfax

Record and Tape Exchange is the very first record store I went to in this area. It is has been around since 1976! Not only can you find vinyl here, but i’ve also been known to pick up a few movies and CDs as well. When I shop here I painstakingly go through the New Arrivals section. Unlike other stores in the area the stuff in here moves fast! I’ve gone within a week of each visit and have seen over half of the new arrival section be completely brand new. Their regular section is small, so very few records make it past New Arrival. They also have a crazy collection of 45s, which I have never seen anywhere else! You can also get Laser Disks here, which cracks me up! Since these guys have been around for so long they know what they are doing. Their pricing is decent and they have amassed quite a collection of really collectible records, which are neat to look at. R&T also repairs records, xbox discs and cds! I know, how cool is that? I don’t know of anywhere else that does that as they do. As a result of that, you can trust that the vinyl they sell is going to be in really great condition. This is a great place to add to your shopping rotation.

McKay Used Books ~ 8345 Sudley Rd, Manassas 

Not exactly the place you would like of for records, but McKay does have some, and is worth being added to my regular rotation. The benefit of going here is that they have a killer used Book collection (which is their main bread and butter) as well as used DVDs for as low as 25cents! The vinyl section is small and doesn’t rotate quite as often as the other stores in the area, but I have stored three of my most recent random Chicago finds at this place, as well as my most recent Rhapsody in Blue vinyl. So, you can’t count it out for sure!

Dragon Song Records ~ 8767 Mathis Ave, Manassas

One of the more random record stores I’ve been in is Dragon Song Records in Manassas. Located out of the way, and little hard to find, its near McKays so I can easily add it in when I visit there. It is small, and therefore has a really small collection of vinyl AND  a super weird one! The other thing about this place is that the records are more expensive here, priced at Collector pricing that you might find online. The flip side of that is that I think is that you will find some really cool stuff here that you won’t. I found Chameleon by Maynard Ferguson here, which I figured I would eventually have to search for online. There isn’t an obvious listening station but the owner is super nice and very cool. Just let him know you want to check the records out. He’ll probably insist that you do when you bring them up to the record. Be prepared as this shop also sells incense (it’s such a weird little place) and I usually get a headache by the time I leave. I’m kind of a pansy though. For a serious collector who is willing to pay higher prices to find that one hard to find place its worth checking this place out.

Red Onion Records ~ 1628 U St NW, Washington, DC

Moving into our first DC record store we have Red Onion Records. It is a small record store, so there is not a huge inventory. They do have a lot of rare and strange records, which are cool to look at. I also believe that they have a lot of regular turnover in records, so going back often is recommended. The pricing is also very good, and you can get a decent record without breaking the bank. They also have a lot of vinyl in the bargain area, but that’s not sorted in the best way, so make sure you have some time to check it out. Their Jazz section is probably the best out of all the sections. They also have listening stations right by the front window.

Smash Records ~ 2314 18th St NW, Washington, DC

Smash is one of my top ones in this list, and a part of that is the vibe inside. I can’t actually explain it, so you’re just gonna have to go in and check it out for yourself. They have a very large collection of records. It might be the largest on this list, up against Record and Tape Exchange. They also carry a lot of new, or more modern vinyl which is nice for a lot of collectors. Pricing is great and the selection is also wide. I’ve found several white whales here as well, including the Best of Cream that I’d been searching for!


               do you have a favorite DC Metro Area record store that didn’t make the list?

I’d love to hear from you!


If you’re looking for a record player, you can visit my Amazon Storefront

to see what record player and speakers I purchased!

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