All the way back in January, I found out I would get this weekend off. Even though it was Pi Day (a big celebration here in Princeton), I really wanted to go on a road trip. We were planning on going to Boston until the morning that we were suppose to leave. The weather wasn't looking too great and I had to be back by a reasonable hour to work on Monday. So I sent Matt off to work, while I scrambled to get everything together and plan a new trip. DC is always our default since it's only 3 hours away, we have family there, and everything is more or less free.
I like themes for our trips so I picked bookstores and Spring.
Madeleine and I picked Matt up at 4 and off we went to our first stop - Bethleham, PA to see the oldest bookstore in the US and the 2nd oldest in the world.
Moravian was pretty neat. It was big and had a great children's selection, but at the same time I would have never guessed it was that old. It wasn't cozy and everything felt pretty new. We read a book or two before heading off to find some food.
Just a few blocks down we found a place called Cachette. It didn't look really child friendly, but it was a crepe shop, which really isn't that fancy? I don't know. I hate that some people can't stand kids. Lucky for us, this place got the food out quick and Madeleine was happy. All of us could not get enough of the fries. I'm not usually one rave about food but these fries were amazing. Seasoned fries with melted gruyere on top and thick cut bacon sprinkled throughout it. To top it off, there was some amazing cheese dip. It made me question why ketchup was ever invented. We poked around in a few more shops that were close by, before getting in the car and crashing in DC.
The next morning we headed downtown to the Smithsonian. Madeleine and I had never really explored the Museum in Natural History, because she wasn't really interested in animals. Lately though, she's been obsessed so I wanted to let her explore it a bit. We covered most of the museum fairly quickly. (Madeleine points to a raccoon, "Meow, Meow" and then runs down the exhibit until she found something else she recognized.) But we ended up spending the most time in the exploration room. Madeleine got on a tiny lab coat and spent plenty of time exploring different bones and textures. It was really cute.
One of the exhibits I wish we spent more time in.
We stopped for lunch (I got a brie, turkey, and spicy honey mustard sandwich that I'm going to try to duplicate at home) before trekking over to the National Botanical Gardens. It was the spring part of our trip. None of us had been there before. It was beautiful but the best part was the way it smelled. In the main room, there were citrus blossoms everywhere. Madeleine's favorite part was the fountains.
The Air and Space museum was on the way back to the car so we popped in a little bit so Madeleine could see some "Ahmes". It was really busy though so we didn't stay long.
After that we headed home and spent some time with family. It was quite nice, and we even got Madeleine to bed early enough for Matt and me to have a date!! I was SO excited. Matt doesn't really do the whole babysitter thing, so the last time we were out alone was in November when his parents were out visiting. I had actually planned a date just in case we got the chance. We went to Kramerbooks and Afterwords. It had to meant to be, because despite the fact that it was St. Patrick's Day weekend and a Saturday night, we found parking right in front of the store. I was pretty pleased.
Anyway, this bookstore was exactly what I like bookstores to be. It was busy, slightly crowded and covered floor to ceiling in books. They only had one or two copies of each book letting the "small" store have a wonderful collection. They didn't have any of the children's books I was looking for, but I found several that I want to check out at the library. Matt and I also got some dessert at the cafe - goober pie and some chocolate cake. It was a perfect night.
The next morning, we woke up said goodbye to family before heading home. I had planned one short stop on the way home. It's this place called The Book Thing. It's a nonprofit organization in Baltimore that runs a free bookstore. I wanted to go so bad, and it was barely off of our route.
It didn't disappoint. It was much bigger and more organized than I expected. We could have spent much longer than we did except we needed to get home. I'm going to save some of our books we are going to get rid of and drop them off when we go back down in May.
We got home by noon and ran by church to catch the end.
How do you plan trips? Matt thought I was a bit crazy to plan around bookstores, but the trip was exactly what I wanted.