Every family needs a break. Yes, it’s partially about powering down and resetting the hard drive, but it’s mostly about spending quality time together and treating everyone to a few simple pleasures. Given the cost of travel these days, not every vacation can involve a Caribbean island, Italian villa or a luxury hotel in the heart of Marrakesh. So my wife, two-year-old son and I often do a staycation weekend in the D.C. area to save money and time.
Over Fourth of July weekend, we were invited to spend two nights at the Marriott Wardman Park as a part of the hotel’s #StayDC Brand Influencer program. We arrived early Friday afternoon and simply picked up our key at the front desk, having already checked in using the handy dandy Marriott Mobile app (One very cool feature: it sends you an alert when your room is ready, so you can get into it early if it’s available). Our eighth floor executive suite was perfect for a family with a king-sized bed, plenty of space for running around, a fridge for snacks and a coffee maker (a must have for me). Another bonus of the hotel chain’s app is free Wi-Fi, which made staying connected cost-effective and convenient.
With our bags unloaded, we walked up to the zoo, only 15 minutes away. Of course, it was absolute mayhem. But that’s part of the deal on a holiday weekend. I didn’t care. I don’t have enough opportunities to really get out into the District and explore its many attractions. That’s another reason I love staycations: they help you appreciate your hometown even more. The Reptile House was undoubtedly Zephyr’s favorite, since he’s obsessed with geckos, snakes and turtles, though the chipmunk that skittered across the path by the cheetah enclosure was a close second.
After returning to the hotel, so Zephyr could nap for a couple of hours, we headed to 2 Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria in Cathedral Heights for dinner, just a five-minute drive. Just harvested summer tomatoes and fresh ricotta drizzled with olive oil and a speckling of sea salt was a highlight complement to the five star zas. It was a wonderful way to end the first day of our staycay.
The next morning – Happy birthday, America! – we enjoyed the breakfast buffet on the 10th floor of the hotel with a view of Taft Bridge, upper Dupont Circle and the Capitol off in the muggy distance. A quick Metro ride got us to Penn Quarter to go to the Beach at the National Building Museum. The inventive installation takes up most of the building’s ground floor with a giant “ocean” of clear plastic balls (where the above photo was taken) and a “beach” packed with chairs and umbrellas. It was as fun for Zephyr to go “swimming” as it was for Poppa to “float” for a moment and relax.
There was a quick pit stop at Bakers & Baristas for an iced coffee before we headed down to the National Mall just in time to see a giant Smokey Bear floating over the parade. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap, followed by a barbeque at a friend’s house. That evening, we wound up on the couch at the hotel watching the fireworks on television. Sitting there oohing and aahing together over the colorful explosions was the perfect finale to our staycation weekend.
I’m happy to share a Marriott coupon code if your family could use a break, too. Save 15% on 2 or more nights at a DC-area Marriott this summer by clicking here.