Labor Day Weekend

Are you as grateful for three day weekends as I am? It sure was nice having an extra day off of work this past week, and I was able to spend my long weekend with my marvelous family – here in DC! My parents usually make an annual trek up to Washington to visit, and it often occurs in September. It was fun planning a fairly spontaneous trip with them, especially since Bridgette & Rob live just two hours away now!

Mom & Dad drove up and arrived Friday evening just in time for a delicious outdoor dinner at one of my long-time favorites, Clare & Don’s Beach Shack. It was a lovely evening to sit outside and listen to a local band play while we ate a delicious dinner on the patio. As usual, I always feel like I’m at a North Carolina beach instead of the middle of suburbia!

We got off to a great start Saturday morning and headed downtown to the Jefferson Memorial, one of my very favorite memorials and locations in DC. Dad realized he likely had never actually set foot on the Jefferson Memorial, as it had always been renovated or closed during previous visits to DC. We had a nice stroll around the Tidal Basin (where I had just paddleboated two weeks ago!) before getting to the Jefferson Memorial. Thomas Jefferson is such an inspirational man in our nation’s history, and his memorial is no less grand. He stands impressively inside the huge marble rotunda, and there are poignant quotes of his on each side. I love being able to see so many other important landmarks in Washington from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, too.

After showing my parents my office downtown, we hopped on bikes (using Capital Bikeshare) in Rosslyn (Arlington) and biked down the Mount Vernon bike trail along the Potomac River! This was the same bike trail we biked a year ago, though we biked from Old Town Alexandria south to Mount Vernon then. We biked past Roosevelt Island and then just followed the river south for a few miles before our destination: Gravelly Point! It’s such a beautiful ride alongside the Potomac. There is a nice breeze, lots of other bikers and runners, and plenty of historical sights and cool views along the way.

Gravelly Point is a public park along the Potomac River where bike/running paths run through it, too. It’s also immediately next to Reagan National Airport, so airplanes descended to land about 200 feet above you. I went to Gravelly Point for the first time earlier this summer and was blown away (almost literally) by how cool of an experience it was. I called my dad as soon as I got there & told him he absolutely had to come here the next time they visited me! My dad used to fly planes, and airplanes are a big passion of his. I distinctly remember going to many airports as a child to watch the planes land – but this is the coolest view I’ve yet to see! It’s a little jaw-dropping to see how close and low the planes are overhead of you here at Gravelly Point, and it’s so fun to watch them land every two minutes. I knew my dad would especially love this, and he sure did!

We then headed over to Old Town Alexandria, one of my favorite parts of greater Washington DC. It’s a quaint, beautiful town just across the river in Northern Virginia, and there is so much history in Old Town! I love wandering up and down King Street and popping into all of the cute shops, boutiques, and fabulous restaurants – and then walking over to the waterfront with beautiful views! We had a late lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso and then headed over to Port City Brewery in Alexandria. I’ve been several times, and I love doing the tasting + tour of this great local brewery. If the pineapple is on top of the Port City sign, it’s open! We sampled all of their beers & we’re thrilled when we learned they’d released their Octoberfest beer the day we were there! It was definitely my dad’s favorite (and maybe my mom’s too). Surprisingly, one of my favorite beers at Port City Brewery is their porter, which is so unlike me! But it’s smooth with a taste of coffee and chocolate – yum. We had so much fun talking and sampling all of their beers that we didn’t even make it on the tour that day – next time!

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The next day, we set out for Culpeper, Virginia – about halfway between my house and Bridgette & Rob’s home. I love how close my sister is to me, and it’s also great that Virginia is a great state for hundreds of wineries – the perfect excuse to meet up halfway and enjoy a day together! We had great plans to wander around the little town of Culpeper and try to stop in a couple wineries, but there was absolutely no need to, since we were having the best time at Old House Vineyards! I would highly recommend this winery, and my mom did an excellent job of picking this one out! The grapes were bursting on the vines, and they actually harvested the white wine grapes a couple days ago (right after our visit). There’s a gorgeous old farmhouse where the wine tastings are done, and we enjoyed several of their wines immensely.

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We had a great picnic set up outside on some tables under the trees, and the views of the vineyards surrounding us were impeccable. If anyone knows me, family time + picnics + vineyards = my love language. Needless to say, it was a pretty perfect afternoon at the vineyard with my absolute favorite people in the world!

We had a wonderful day together catching up & chatting and enjoy Old House’s great wines (we went with their delicious chardonnay and their rose for a hot afternoon). It’s not too far from Washington DC, and I would definitely recommend this vineyard to friends! I loved the wines, the grounds, the plentiful picnic tables, and the life-size chess game in the front yard! It was so good to see my fabulous sister & brother in law, too – again, I’m so grateful that they’re a quick drive away now!

The next morning, Mom, Dad, and I got an early start on some DC toursting before they left town! It’s so easy to get downtown early in the morning. We got to walk around the Mall, see the White House, visit the Washington Monument that’s under repairs, and then walk west down the Mall towards the World War II memorial, reflecting pool, and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a sunny and hot morning, and we definitely got our exercise in!

I had such a wonderful, busy (but also a little relaxing!) weekend with my amazing parents, and I’m so glad they made their annual trek up north to visit me! We always have the best time together, and I love showing them around this great city I’ve called home for the last four years!

Right after the left, I headed out to The Winery at Bull Run (yes, another winery this weekend!) for my dear friend Kelly’s birthday celebrations! I’d never been to this winery before, even though it’s surprisingly so close to DC. Again, I’d very much recommend this winery & we had such a great time there celebrating Kelly’s birthday. As I’ve said before, there’s not much better than great friends + drinking wine outside + a delicious picnic feast + rocking chairs!

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