Hit the mall. Rise early for a less crowded walk around America's front yard. The National Mall spans 1.9 miles from the capitol steps to the lincoln memorial, but start at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the southwest outskirts of the mall and walk clockwise to see the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool, Vietnam veterans memorial, and the Washington Monument.
History on display. A short stroll from the Washington Monument, find the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Its vast collection chronicles many aspects of our nation’s history and includes Julia Child’s kitchen, the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “the wizard of oz” and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat.
Lunch at the gallery. Tucked inside the National Gallery of Art, the Garden Café may be the most serene spot on the mall for a lunch break. The menu changes seasonally but usually features a local cheese plate, a selection of salads, and roasted meat and fish. Before leaving, walk over to the east building and see the Rothko room — the sunlight-filled space displaying 10 works by the abstract expressionist is worth the detour.
Shakespearean Library. One block east of the National Mall, behind the capitol, find the world’s largest Shakespeare collection in the beautiful Folger Shakespeare Library. Docent-led tours might highlight the reading rooms, elizabethan garden and famous stained-glass window by nicola d’ascenzo.
Greek dinner. Head to Mirabelle for a taste of Chef Frank Ruta's distinctive French-American fare, including foie gras poached in consommé and wild Scottish wood pigeon.
Cocktails at Quadrant. Return to the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. To unwind with a cocktail by the fireplace at the plush Quadrant Bar & Lounge. Flip to the back of its menu book and browse a special list of cocktails assigned to each president along with an accompanying historic story. Listen to a flamenco guitarist on Fridays or a Dj spinning funky, soulful rhythms on Saturdays.