Selfies, manicures and Sunday brunch in the nation’s capital.

STORY BY Shannon Morgan

My sister, Kristin, and I pose for a photo in front of the White House. We’ve taken several photos already to commemorate this trip to Washington, capitol_adventures-5D.C. It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve gone away for a night, just us, no spouses, no kids. Our last sister trip was to Ocean City eight years ago. Kristin was expecting her first child. Now, she’s expecting her third.

“This is my first trip to D.C.,” she says after we board the Red Line at Shady Grove. I’m aghast. We live less than 60 miles from the District. How can
this be her first trip?

“What about that day trip we took with mom and dad?” I ask. Then, I do the math and realize she was only three years old that summer. Of course, she doesn’t remember.

I was seven. I vividly recall Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the ancient Star Spangled Banner and the gallery of First Lady’s gowns at the American History Museum. I also remember eating astronaut ice cream at the Air and Space Museum and climbing on a triceratops in front of the Museum of Natural History on the National Mall.

For this trip, we’re skipping the museums. We want to visit The Phillips Collection to see “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” an impressionistic painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, but we arrive late in the afternoon and decide to go straight to our hotel instead. We’re staying at the Donovan House, a capitol_adventures-1Kimpton hotel that overlooks Thomas Circle, in a corner room with a beautiful view of the National City Christian Church.

We have an hour or so before our manicure appointments, so decide to explore the neighborhood. Ten minutes later, we’re standing in front of the White House. A small crowd is gathered outside the gate, mostly tourists, like us, taking photos. We’re surprised by how much smaller the White House appears in person than its expansive image on television.

White House tours must be arranged well in advance through Congressional offices. However, several guided tours of the city’s sights are readily available – like the hop-on-and-off bus tours from Union Station, the Segway tours of the Smithsonian, and the name-your-own-price DC by Foot walking tours. Several neighborhood heritage trails lead visitors to explore by foot. We’re content to poke around on our own as we amble from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to nail saloon on 14th Street.

A relief to pregnant Kristin, nailsaloon is known for its toxin-free products and fume-free environment. Another bonus is the beverage offered with our manicures. I go for the signature drink, the Cosmopolish, cranberry and pineapple juices, vodka and sparkling cider. It seems to fit the deep red polish I choose. My sister orders a cup of tea and blue polish with glitter. It’s the best manicure I’ve ever had.capitol_adventures-7

We have dinner nearby, at B Too, a Belgian restaurant, and afterwards, stop in at Dolcezza for gelato. The 14th Street Corridor, from Thomas Circle, where our hotel is located, to U Street, is home to some hip restaurants including Le Diplomate, Ted’s Bulletin and Kapnos.

Sated, we return to our hotel room and stay up late watching HGTV and reminiscing about the house we grew up in, the house our parents sold last year. Kristin and I briefly shared a room in that house because we wanted bunk beds. We fought over who would get the top bunk. I won

I remember that another Kimpton property in D.C., the Hotel Rouge, has rooms with bunk beds, and we make a pact to return and stay there. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll let Kristin take the top bunk.

In the morning, we dress up and take a cab to the Kennedy Center for brunch at the Roof Terrace Restaurant. The buffet-style offerings feature primecapitol_adventures-9 rib, eggs Benedict, French toast, bacon, fruit, a smorgasbord of vegetable dishes and a raw seafood bar. The eggs Benedict is divine. Brunch includes champagne, a mimosa or a Bloody Mary from the build-your-own bar. I opt for a mimosa and eye up the omelet station in the dining room. There’s also a dessert table, which I don’t dare pass up. The homemade Swiss cake rolls are calling my name.

As I load up my plate, I spy the Lincoln Memorial through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Outside the restaurant, a wide stone terrace wraps around the Kennedy Center, providing a spectacular view of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Reagan National Airport and Georgetown.

After brunch, my sister and I pose for one last photo outside on the terrace and pinky swear we’ll get away together again soon, just us, with no babies on board. We also pinky swear to bring our kids to D.C. sometime soon, too. *

 S P R I N G B R E A K , D.C . S T Y L E

10 things to do with a sister or gal pal this spring.

1. Book the Monumental Girls’ Weekend package at the Hotel Rouge and rock, paper, scissors for the top bunk. The package includes bunk bed room; wine; fruit and cheese plate; fashion and gossip magazines; and Google Chromecast. Use rate code GIRLS.

2. Visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts. “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea” is on exhibit through April 12. Organic Matters – Women to Watch 2015 opens June 5.

3. View the White House gardens during the annual spring tour in April. whitehouse. gov/about/tours-and-events

4. Shop the boutiques in Georgetown, the high-end stops at City Center and the artisans at Eastern Market.,,

5. Try ramen at Daikaya for lunch or dine around Union Market. daikaya. com,

6. Tour the Dolcezza gelato factory.

7. Sip tea and nibble on finger sandwiches at the Willard InterContinental’s Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea in Peacock Alley. Pinkies up! washington.intercontinental. com/food-drink/peacock-alley-tea

8. Indulge in the Cherry Blossom body treatment at The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental. This 80-minute Japanese ritual includes a Cherry Blossom rice powder exfoliation and a full body shea butter massage. mandarinoriental. com/washington/luxury-spa

9. Go to the ballet at the Kennedy Center. The Washington Ballet will perform “Swan Lake” and “ALICE” (in Wonderland). The New York Ballet and The Royal Ballet will also perform at the Kennedy Center this spring.

10. Toast each other with mocktails (or cocktails) at Firefly in Dupont Circle.

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