Back to Top

Free and Frugal Things to Do in Washington DC

Sexy Nerd and I had the best time in Washington, DC last week. I love that the city is so walkable. One moment you're browsing gorgeous home items in Georgetown and the next you're inhaling the sweet scent of cherry blossoms at a Smithsonian museum. That's quite a walk, but doable, especially as my FitBit says I averaged 30,000 steps per day in DC. It's quite a bit higher than my average at home of 4,000. Though, that many steps would be around 15 miles, so...my FitBit may actually be broken.
Look at me wearing a sleeveless shirt in DC in February. This was a million times better than our last visit.

We didn't really even do much in DC, as Sexy Nerd was busy with work the majority of the time, but just being there was enough. One day, we will move there. Just you wait.

That last line should be sung, not read, obviously. Soaking up all the history in DC and Virginia wouldn't have been nearly as fun if I weren't a huge Hamilton fan. We went to Mount Vernon. Yes, the very same Mount Vernon as mentioned in the musical! Hee, hee.

Funny enough, we actually should be living in DC right now. Sexy Nerd's workplace would love to send him there for a few years and if they had offered sooner, we gladly would have accepted. But now we're smack dab in the middle of building a house! Get your timing together, Universe.
Knowing a move is off the table for at least another few years, we still enjoyed picking out imaginary houses to purchase. We're going to live by the water in Alexandria in a stately brick home, complete with a garage (hard to come by in the area) and cute shutters. After moving back to New Mexico, we'll use it as a rental.
I thought this yellow one by the Smithsonian National Zoo (which is free - this city is meant for me!) was just my type, so I trudged my tired legs up the street to get a closer look. Sadly, it's a bit dilapidated in person. I guess we won't be buying it after all. It didn't have a garage anyway.

Well, those reasons and the fact that we're in no position to buy the house right now...if it were even for sale.
Do you think these more modest neighbors hate that bright yellow house?
Look at this roof. It's covered in tiny metal eagles! I told Sexy Nerd to text this photo to our builder, along with the words STOP EVERYTHING - CHANGE TO EAGLE ROOF but he refused.

Can tiny metal eagles be added later? Are there other animals to choose from and do any of them look like Pica? She has a very regal look.

I've been into macro photography lately, much to Sexy Nerd's confusion. It drives him crazy when I get super close to a subject and take a photo that barely shows anything. If the above photo hadn't been zoomed in so tightly though and had instead shown the entire structure, you would never have paid attention to the beautiful wooden door and aged hardware. Doesn't it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

The "structure" is actually a tomb and there are dead bodies on the other side of this door. I hope you enjoyed your warm fuzzies while they lasted.

I'm pretty sure I've seen this exact same roof on a paint website, which is crazy because there's very little paint in the photo. Sherwin Williams?

And, of course, I'm still super into squirrel photos. They're not artistic or anything, but they do frustrate my husband just as much as macro photography. Maybe more.

The squirrel is posing, Sexy Nerd. He wants to have his photo taken. Also, his name is Nutters McGee.

Sexy Nerd took this one.

I had a great time at the Smithsonian National Zoo, excluding one weird incident. I was walking along, side by side with my new emu friend, when I stepped on a piece of gum on the pavement.

Only it wasn't a piece of gum.

It was the lower half (the only half) of a pink mouse, with a tail and two little splayed out legs and teensie tiny feet.

(Ack!)

While watching this elephant enjoy her pedicure, a man turned and sternly informed me that "you never turn your back to them," right before I decided not to stand next to him anymore.

This is my new favorite statue.

Awww! Sweet dreams, giant rat.

This fluffy fellow is a sand cat, which is the most adorable cat in existence. Even his scientific name is cute - felis margarita. I'd never seen one in person before, but have a suspicion zoos could get away with creating Sand Cat exhibits stocked with Persians.

I love this little fellow, but just wait until you see his name. He's no ordinary armadillo. He's...

...a Screaming Hairy Armadillo, AKA my new favorite animal.

For a (window) shopping enthusiast like myself, no trip to DC is complete without a visit to the Tyson's Corner mall in Virginia, which is just a quick metro ride away from the city. I knew it was enormous, but I'd forgotten just how enormous until I was circling its endless corridors. I could spend all day there. They even have a Ballard Designs store! I never knew my favorite decor catalog had physical, retail stores. There was an ottoman marked down from $650 to only $270, but I had no way to fit it inside my suitcase.

Sexy Nerd enjoyed our visit to the National Inventors Hall of Fame at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The woman there was so friendly (and possibly so bored) that she offered to give us a personal tour.

This was our favorite exhibit. Which of these two Ford Mustangs do you prefer?  


Did you know The Energizer Bunny is a rip-off of The Duracell Bunny? Duracell didn't think to trademark their mascot until it was too late.

"Why are you taking a photo of an old fence," you-know-who demanded. I continued to photograph every post and flower and rock until Sexy Nerd pointed me down the hill...

 
...to the sheep! Look at them, all wooly and bleating. They seemed to be put off by my wool jacket though.

Cows too! "We paid to come here just to look at cows," asked Sexy Nerd? It was a rhetorical question because of course the cows only added extra value to the admission fee.

Ooh, which reminds me. When you go to Mount Vernon, be sure to purchase your tickets online to save an extra $2. We did this on Sexy Nerd's phone right outside the ticket line and it still worked.

Behold, a photo of Mount Vernon with absolutely NO TOURISTS, even on a Sunday. February is a great time to visit.

The Washingtons had quite the view.

George loooved symmetry. This was the greenhouse...but was also originally the home for slaves until George kicked them out to house plants instead. WTF, George?

At Mount Vernon, tour groups consist of about 20 people and each group sees one part of the home at a time. When Sexy Nerd saw a tour group leaving the porch, he tried frantically to take this photo before the next group arrived. They were too quick for him though.

Although the final resting place of George and Martha Washington is well maintained, we were appalled to see vandalism on several of the bricks. Who would do such a thing?

Even if it's in retaliation for the slaves, George Washington eventually changed his stance to anti-slavery. Plus, Martha was the one who actually freed them and it's her tomb too.

Really, if you would graffiti George Washington's tomb, please get the heck out of the United States right now. I'm feeling nice about this at the moment. When I first saw the bricks, my solution was that anyone caught vandalizing should have their hand chopped off. Sexy Nerd thought that was a bit extreme and favored locking the offending hand in a heavy, locked box for one month, at least for first-time offenders.

Next, we practiced our best "lock box" Al Gore impressions.

This dove weathervane would go perfectly with the little metal roof eagles that Sexy Nerd says we are absolutely not adding to our roof, not now and not ever.

And now for the grand finale of this post. It's pretty darn grand, if I do say so myself.

Behold, the first animated gif I've ever made in my life. Ta da!