A Weekend ‘Up North’

Welcome to Maryland!

After a really weird 13 mile run (I mentally was having a weird time with it, and ended up ‘splitting’ the run into several sections, as evidenced on Daily Mile) we were off on our 2-hr drive up from Charlottesville to the DC Metro area. Surprisingly, the bulk of the traffic was at the beginning of the trip, so we were crossing the Woodrow Wilson bridge before lunchtime.

Me and Dad!

My dad was staying at the Residence Inn right across the street from the Gaylord, so after we parked, we met up and walked around before deciding to grab some lunch at Potbelly.

Hubby and his Italian Sandwich…for some reason I thought this filter was appropriate for the restaurant decor 😉

After a yummy lunch, we purchased our Water Taxi tickets to head over to Old Town Alexandria.

Our ‘chariot’

We didn’t really have a specific plan for the day, but hubs and I had rode that water taxi before and had an enjoyable time – the trip’s about $8 and 20 minutes to cross the Potomac River, dropping you off right at the Waterfront area. Once we disembarked our vessel, we grabbed iced drinks at Firehook, then hightailed it to one of my favorite destinations at Old Town…Lavender Moon Cupcakery! 😀


There were lots of yummy specials that day, including Blood Orange Dreamsicle, Hummingbird and even S’mores, but I couldn’t stray from my absolute favorite there – Flourless Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds. SO GOOD. I had to update Instagram with it for sure…


That day, they had a sign up that said if you followed them on twitter, you could get a free red velvet! That was awesome, so I followed them, and hubby had a sweet treat 🙂

With cupcakes in our bellies, I asked my travel companions if they had any other places they wanted to check out there in Old Town – and suggested we head up to the George Washington Masonic temple – I had never been, though had seen it many times (I used to transfer metro trains at King Street) and thought it might be interesting. Hubs and dad didn’t seem super enthusiastic, but seeing as that was the only suggestion, we went for it 😉

The walk there was fine – and then the climb up was a great workout 😉

Just like Disney, right…?

I had to admit, I didn’t know much about the Masons, and even after this visit, I am still not super clear (we missed the guided tour) but it was very interesting to check out the exhibits – and the architecture of the memorial was very impressive.

GW is my homeboy.

Seriously though, it was definitely interesting and definitely worth $5 – if for nothing else, but my dad’s happiness about finding A/C 😉

After our jaunt around Old Town, we headed back to National Harbor via the Water Taxi again – the sun and walking was enough for my dad to ask if we could kindly schedule in naptime to our busy schedule – so he headed to his hotel for a few hours, while hubs and I headed over to ours to check in and do some exploring…

Inside the atrium!
Looking down into the atrium main level…
A view of the lounges and lobby level – set up for a wedding that evening!!

Just as the other Gaylord hotels boast, the inner atrium of the Gaylord National was gorgeously landscaped in a perfectly climate-controlled environment. Seeing that wedding set-up made me realize how attractive that concept would be – rain? No problem! Gorgeous as always inside the glass atrium – like a fancy biodome? 😉

We hung around at the Nationals Sports Bar for a bit, munched on chips and guacomole and did a little Yelpin’ to decide where our dinner plans might take us. Although there were many options around the harbor area, most had very low ratings and high “$$$” factor. Since we had access to a car, however, we opened up the search a little and hubs came upon a place called Mike’s American Grill in Springfield (our old stomping grounds)

We called over and found that their first opening would be around 8:30 PM – even though that sounded late, we weren’t dying of hunger either, so we went with that. Around 7 PM, we met back up with my dad and he was super excited about going to Mike’s, as he said he’d been there in a previous business trip “many years ago.”

Late! (for us, anyway)

The reviews all seemed to have two common themes: that the parking was a disaster (incredibly cramped lot, though there were additional spots across the street) and that the bread was awesome. I can definitely attest to both!

These little rolls tasted like teeny donuts – and the butter was kind of sweet. It made me wish we had a Mike’s so I could go there to carbo load before every big race!!

Our dinners were great too – hubs was still full from chips (and also, bread) so we shared the special (hickory flounder with brown rice risotto and asparagus) and my dad had prime rib. Thumbs up all around!  It certainly was a delicious meal for very reasonable price, and though it is part of a chain, it ‘felt’ like an independent restaurant!

By the time we made it back to the hotel, we were WIPED OUT! What a (fun) day 🙂

Where’s your favorite place to visit?

Do you like to plan trips out or be spontaneous?



  1. I like that you call DC area “up north.” I’m just over the river in Md..and I don’t spend nearly enough time in DC or Alexandria. They are great places and looks ilke you made the most of them!

    My favorite place to visit is out west. Just love the mountains.

    • 🙂 I love the west too!

      Glad you thought the ‘Up North’ title was funny – I have to giggle sometimes when people call Charlottesville ‘Down South’ so that was kind of a play on that…though I have to admit, when we visited Roanoke just a few weeks ago, it certainly did feel more ‘Southern’ 🙂

  2. You managed to cover two of my all-time favorite eateries in one posting. I LOVE Lavender Moon! The best is the cupcake with the Mexican chocolate pudding inside and Mike’s (or anything under Great American Restaurants) is always, always a winner!

    • That mexican chocolate one sounds good too….mmm….I had never heard of Mike’s, or the Great American Restaurant chain before….

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