Although I wrote about my recent trip to Washington, DC a few weeks ago, I didn’t have the space to write about everything we did. In addition to looking for blooms at the National Arboretum and on the Cherry Blossom Cruise on the Potomac, we visited a couple other sites.
The Cherry Blossom Cruise dropped us off at the port in Old Town, the section of Alexandria, Virginia that is popular with tourists. We arrived just before many of the shops were closing and the weather was cold and rainy, so it was not a great time to visit this small town. We did a small amount of shopping, warmed up at a coffee shop, and then found a nice restaurant for dinner.
The Old Town area looked like it would be a fun place to spend the day, if the weather was warmer. I plan to visit again.
As I always do when I travel, I looked for a local yarn shop. As we traveled to Alexandria, Virginia on the Cherry Blossom Cruise, I used my phone to search for shops in the area. I was pleased to find there was a yarn shop in the Old Town section near the harbor.
We didn’t get off the boat until about 5:30 pm, and the shop was fifteen minutes away from the harbor. With a closing time of 6 pm, we had to hurry to get there. We hopped on the trolley and rode to the closest stop. We managed to get to the yarn shop with ten to fifteen minutes to look around.
The shop, Fibre Space, was nice and the staff was pleasant. There were several samples tempting my daughters and me to purchase yarn. I was especially impressed with the shop’s collection of locally dyed yarns.
Two local dyers were featured in the shop – The Fiberists from Centreville, Virginia, and Neighborhood Fiber Company from Baltimore, Maryland. As has been my habit lately, I purchased a skein of local yarn – this one from the Neighborhood Fiber Company.
National Portrait Gallery
I’ve been to Washington, DC a number of times now, but had not been to the National Portrait Gallery. I’ll admit that it was not really a priority for me, because I didn’t know much about it.
We decided to sign up for a free tour of the gallery. We were glad we did, because the guide was able to lead us to the highlights of the museum in a short time.
We were a bit disappointed in the guide, though, as she was a bit dry. Before the tour was finished, we had all wandered away and were exploring the gallery on our own. I would still recommend using a guide, if you are visiting for the first time.
The first portrait we visited on the tour was Michelle Obama. The portrait was a bit controversial when it was installed unveiled because it is not a typical formal portrait. In the painting, Ms. Obama is wearing a skirt that resembles a quilt.
In the same room, on an adjacent wall was a portrait of Toni Morrison. The painting was so precise it looked like a photograph.
I had assumed the National Portrait Gallery only included works representing presidents of the United States. Although the presidential portraits comprise a large portion of the included works, there are many more – the collection contains over 15,000 portraits, although not all of them are displayed at once. The gallery includes portraits of business people, artists, and other people in all lines of work.
Not all the paintings are formal portraits. In fact, many of them are not formal at all. It as fascinating to the see the different styles that artists have used over the years to represent these notable people.
As I think about that visit, so many portraits stood out as favorites – Presidents Obama, Reagan, and Ford; Bill and Melinda Gates; and The Four Justices (Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan).
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Sharing the building with the National Portrait Gallery is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It may seem odd that these two organizations share the same building, but they have worked it out well.
When visitors enter the building and approach the welcome desk, they are given an explanatory map. Tours are available for both organizations. We only had time for one tour and since we chose the Portrait Gallery tour, we were on our own through the American Art Museum.
The museum is not large – with a full day visitors could see most of the Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum. We didn’t have that much time, but were able to visit several galleries in the art museum.
I especially liked the 20th century works, including the contemporary digital presentations. I also enjoyed the works by popular artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Alexander Calder. I plan to return again when I have more time.
Washington, DC Area
There is so much to see and do in the Washington, DC area that I don’t think I’ll ever run out of places to visit when I am in the city.
Have you visited Washington, DC? What is your favorite museum or tourist site?