Saturday, 5 May 2012

Weekend Life.....Washington DC → Philadelphia Road Trip

Road trip, Washington DC to Philadelphia, USA, February 2012.

Before NYFW in February, we took a mini road trip from Washington DC to Philadelphia and then on to NYC.

A few of my favourite things from the trip:

Good Stuff Eatery (Washington DC). Home of great burgers, fries and the glorious, rich, brain-freeze inducing marshmallow shake. If you go, you just have to have a shake (any flavour!). So good.

Ray's Hell Burger (Arlington, VA). If you are flying into Dulles International airport and driving into Washington DC, Ray's Hell Burger is well worth a stop along the way, particularly if you have avoided the food on the plane and need to refuel with a juicy, fresh burger.

Bens Chili Bowl (Washington DC) - Disclaimer: I am a big fan of Man v Food (how I didn't know about the show, along with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, until last year, I am not sure!) so I have dozens of bookmarks noting places I'd like to visit in the US. And this was one place I bookmarked for when we visited Washington DC. And how good it was. It was pouring with rain when we arrived, but as soon as we opened the door and joined the line (it was early Saturday evening) our mood lifted. The beats were pumping (people were grooving along in the line), the main dude behind the counter was bustin' some moves with the guys working the grill and smell of chili and hot-dogs was in the air. And the food? We had the chili half-smoke and it was excellent (although admittedly I don't eat hot-dogs very often. I think the last time was at the Jets season opener on September 11th last year at the MetLife stadium in NJ).

Di Bruno Bros (Philadelphia) - A great Italian deli near Rittenhouse Square if you want to stock up on picnic ingredients for lunch/dinner. We arrived in Philadelphia mid-afternoon on Super Bowl Sunday so just picked up some salads, sliced Italian meats and cheese for a wee picnic in our hotel room before the game. Sometimes a makeshift hotel room picnic is just what you need after a long day sightseeing.


M.E. Swing Co (Washington DC). Righteous espresso and very close to the White House. Only open Monday to Friday.

Peregrine Espresso (Washington DC)

Elixr Coffee (Philadelphia)

Volo Coffeehouse (Manayunk, Philadelphia). We stumbled across this cafe after we called in to Three Potato Four (my favourite online store to browse for vintage/retro American homewares. Their warehouse isn't really open to the public (except by appointment) but Janet and Stu were kind enough to show us around anyway).


Hotel Palomar Philadelphia. This was my first time staying in a Kimpton hotel and I have only good things to say. The staff were very helpful and nice, the room was super clean and nicely decorated and the location is ideal - walking distance to The Liberty Bell, Rittenhouse Square, Reading Terminal Market. Plus, they are a pet-friendly hotel so four-legged furry friends are welcome to stay with you (love that!).


Arlington National Cemetery - so quiet, moving, peaceful. We visited at 8am on a Saturday morning and had the place pretty much to ourselves (jet lag is sometimes useful).

We walked from the cemetery all the way to the Capitol Building (via the Lincoln Memorial). A long way but highly recommended if you enjoy walking. Plus Good Stuff Eatery is just on Capitol Hill so something yummy to look forward to.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - brilliant. I highly recommend the free guided tour.

Lancaster County - home to the Pennsylvania Amish community


  1. the photos are really wonderful! I really can't wait to see more!

  2. I love this city guide. Though I doubt I'll ever go to Washington DC, it's still nice to know what's good in there!

  3. Amazing photos!

  4. beautiful beautiful photos.
    Vanessa, I am sure that you have been asked a thousand times ... which camera do you use?

    x from sydney!


  5. Love these photos, especially the ones with the tree branches - the one of the bare branches over the lake is stunning.

  6. i should go to the beautiful places :)

  7. Wow, sounds like you had an amazing time. Beautiful pics.

  8. I went to washington once in the middle of the cherry blossom festival, amazing! The first pic reminds me of that, lovely city and the arlington cemetery is really memorable.

  9. These photos are so strikingly beautiful! As for the road trip: well I can only dream! So lovely to read all of your thoughts in the guide :).

  10. ahhhhhhhhhhh so lovely makes me want to travel around US. One day! For now, stuck in a library. Remember that Complete Works of Shakespeare at my house last year? Yeah, I'm back to that for revision...YIKES

    Claire x

  11. All the places look so pretty in these photos.

  12. great pictures! DC's looking good!

  13. Hi i saw you have an American Apparel blazer ( please help what is you size? In my city it is only available online and in size xs and m and I'm really confused cause usually I use small size. Is it too big?

  14. Great pictures!! Ray's Hell Burger is right near my place and their burgers are amazing!!

  15. @everyone - thanks for your comments, it is nice that you enjoyed my little road trip with me!

    @simplyepalf - I thought Ray's was awesome! We only had a burger but it was delicious and most welcome after the flight from London. I couldn't work out which one to go to though? There seemed to be two of them. We ended up at the one furtherest away from the coffee shop....I think it was the original? Also, are the fries good? We didn't try any....

    @Anonymous - oh dear, you may need to ask on a forum with respect to sizing for American Apparel....I am not sure about sizing for jackets in the brand.....

    @David - thanks!

    @KAren - the weather was largely bleak (very London like!) because of the time of year. I can imagine Washington DC looks amazing right now with all the cherry blossoms out.

    @Young Shields - Claire!! you would love it!! Seriously, the US is brilliant to road trip around - big cars (the first car we ever rented in the US for our roadtrip with friends from Colorado to San Francisco was this giant Chevy Tahoe - an absolute beast of an SUV! So much fun), amazing scenery, friendly people, ability to get good food and reasonable coffee at all times of the day and night. You MUST do it once you have finished studying. Oh heck yeah I remember that complete works of Shakespeare - it fills me with dread and fear. Brilliant you for doing it though!

    @The Three Little Pigs - I said to someone via email yesterday that I love that photography can evoke memories and the desire to create new ones. It is such a powerful thing. I hope your road trip dreams come true one day....

    @Isabelle - I have seen photographs of cherry blossom season in Washington and it looks INSANE. So, so beautiful. The top photo was just one lonely tree that had decided it didn't want to wait for the season to begin. The sky was very grey would have been prettier if it was blue.

    @Paula and @Yuka - It was really lovely - I hope to do it again someday....

    @Mica - I wasn't sure whether to post that photo - it is sort of grey and a bit underexposed. But I am glad you liked it!

    @Anonymous - Hi Rena, I normally use a nikon d700 camera but these are on film

    @Nyrha- thank you!

    @Joana - I love looking at people's recommendations for travel (plus I religiously check Yelp and tripadvisor) so this is just my little contribution

    @Joy - thanks so much Joy

  16. I think I already know the reason why Three Potato Four can't allow some of my friends to go inside their warehouse. I'm gonna need to tell them to have an appointment first. Thanks for the info. ;)