It was September Labor Day Weekend and I had a friend visiting me from California who was keen to visit some city on the East Coast.
We both had never been to DC so it was exciting opportunity to visit some places and view the eastern coast of the United States.
08/29 (Friday): The first evening we began our drive from Chicago towards Pittsburgh the Steel City and Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The distance was close to 450 miles and with Pittsburgh being in the Eastern time zone we lost an hour while driving and reached pretty late into the night at our hotel in Pittsburgh.
08/30 (Saturday): The first day was spent in Pittsburgh Sightseeing.
Spots which I visited were:
Schenley Park - Schenley Dr, Pittsburgh PA 15217 USA. Schenley Park is one of the largest municipal parks in Pittsburgh and contains trails, woods and many such attractions; so definitely a good spot to visit for walking/ running or taking a fresh breadth of air before the whole city awakens! The Schenley Park also contains a Cafe & Visitor Center and Phipps Conservatory which people can choose to visit at their leisure.
Next we visited the Carnegie Mellon University (GPS: Heinz College 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh 15213) At the university we explored the University Center, Warner Hall and the Pummel Center of Arts.
You can also choose to visit the University of Pittsburgh (GPS: 4200 Fifth Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15260) I had just driven through this university (I found Carnegie Mellon with a more pretty campus)
Point State Park (GPS: 101 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222)
The Point State Park is the most beautiful spot to visit in Pittsburgh. It is located at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers together forming the Ohio river. It's at the tip of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle. The fountain at the State Park sprays water up to 150 feet in the air.
The Point State Park also offers a direct view to the Heinz Field which is the home field of the Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL team of Pittsburgh)
One of Pittsburgh attraction is the Dusquesne Incline which is a plesant reminder of the old times and was built to reach the summit of Coal Hill, which later came to be known as Mount Washington. These inclines were used for coal transport, servicing passengers. These wagons can hold up to 18 passengers in a single car.
The parking lot for Dusquesne Incline is located at 1197 W. Carson St, Pittsburgh PA 15211 USA and you just need to cross over the street to visit the Incline.
Once at the top you get to see breathtaking views of the city, the Point State Park and the 3 rivers. So definitely would recommend visiting the inclines.
Next driving through downtown view the Gulf Tower ~ One of the most prominent buildings in Pittsburgh (GPS - 707 Grant Street, Pittsburgh PA 15219) and also drive though the Roberto Clemente Bridge - 107 6th St, Pittsburgh PA 15222. The Roberto Clemente Bridge, also known as the Sixth Street Bridge, or Jensen's Bridge, spans the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh. It's a suspension bridge built way back in 1928.
If you learn more about the history of the Steelers and would be interested in a tour of the facility you can visit the Heinz Field at 100 Art Rooney Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
We concluded our Pittsburgh sightseeing at Market Square ~ 23 Market Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 where we had lunch at Noodles & Company. (You have a lot of options with a large variety of cuisine options) The Market Square is the hub of all downtown activity with variety of eatery joints, corporate offices so you will always find it crowded with people!
Pittsburgh is also known as the City of Bridges because of its 446 bridges across the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers.
We then began our drive towards Herndon around 250 miles away for our night stay. (Herndon is some 20 miles away from DC)
I also met up with a long lost school friend after more than 10 years in Alexandria (VA) for dinner so catching up after these many years was a pleasant experience. Finally we headed to the hotel for getting some rest.
08/31 (Sunday): The next morning we drove to Washington DC to see the following locations:
United States Capitol - East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004. In order to tour the Capitol you need to contact the Senator and get confirmed reservations. Since this was an impromptu tour we were able to view the Capitol from the outside.
Washington Monument, 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20007. There are elevators to reach the top of the monument which provides an all round view of DC. The tickets are free and distributed at the counter every morning around 7.30-8am; however you can also book them in advance online and tickets can be shipped to your location. By the time we reached the Monument the free passes for the entire day had been distributed so we had to be content with taking pictures from the ground location instead of the top. (I didn't repeat this mistake when I visited DC again in August 2015 and was well prepared)
From the Washington Monument we walked towards Lincoln Memorial; on the way we visited the World War 2 Memorial which has a center fountain and pillars of all the States and US territories who had provided soldiers for fighting in the war.
We walked along the Reflecting Pool and viewed the Constitution Gardens, Vietnam War Memorial and Korean War Memorial finally reaching the Lincoln Memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States. (GPS: 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037)
All the memorials are part of the area called as National Mall which stretches from US Capital till Lincoln Memorial.
Lastly we visited the White House (GPS: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC, DC 20500). As everyone is aware the White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States
However due to traffic restrictions you cannot drive up to the exact location so you can drive to the intersection of 16th St and H st and view the White House by walking across the Lafayette Square.
Due to the short time we had in hand we visited only the major memorials in DC. However there are plenty other memorials and museums which I had completed during my second visit to DC.
Some other spots to visit are:
1) Thomas Jefferson Memorial
2) FDR Memorial
3) MLK Memorial
4) Smithsonian Natural History Museum
5) Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
6) Smithsonian National Museum of American History
There is a maximum of 2 hour parking available on the streets across the museums so in the event you are planning to take additional time in the museum and have a car you will need to find a new parking spot!
Additional during the summer time; there is a Circulator bus which runs in and around the DC area which provides service from one memorial to another with $1 charge for every ride so you can choose to take this option too.
After visiting DC we drove towards a quick tour to Baltimore to visit the Inner Harbor. (around 40 miles from DC)
On the way we had lunch at an Indian Restaurant in Columbia.
GPS location for the Inner harbor ~ 201 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202
The Inner Harbor is a tourist destination and landmark of the city of Baltimore. It's a prominent destination for Waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment.
After visiting the Inner Harbor we began the drive for Cleveland for our night stay. (~400 miles)
09/01 (Monday): The next morning we left for Cleveland Sightseeing.
The first spot we visited was the Euclid Beach ~ 16001 Euclid Beach Blvd OH 44110 on the Lake Erie.
With this visit I completed a visit to all the Five Great Lakes!
Then visited the Bedford Reservation which is part of the Cleveland Metropark system which provides extensive nature preserves for the general Cleveland public so it's a good place for an early morning run/ jog.
(GPS: 14505 Button Rd, Walton Hills, OH 44146)
Here we walked along the Hemlock Creek Loop Trail and continued on to Bridle Trail for a short walk.
Another trail which I would recommend is the Sagamore Creek Loop Trail which can be accessed at 7733 Canal Rd, Valley View, OH 44125.
If you are a big Rock Music fan then another spot to visit is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1100 E 9th St, Cleveland, OH 44114 which is located on the shore of Lake Erie.
Next to the Museum is the Cleveland Browns Stadium (NFL team of Cleveland)
Driving through downtown make sure to visit the Terminal Tower (GPS: 50 Public Square, Cleveland OH 44113) which is a landmark skyscraper located in Cleveland downtown. It also has an observation deck available for visitors to view the Cleveland downtown and Lake Erie shores.
Right across the Terminal Tower is the Cleveland Public Square which has the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument which commemorates the American Civil War and is topped by the Statue of Freedom is also a nice photographic spot with the Terminal Tower in the background.
Lastly we ended our Cleveland sightseeing by visiting the Cleveland Arcade which is a Victorian era structure indoor shopping mall featuring a variety of shops, services and dining options. (GPS: 401 Euclid Ave, Cleveland OH 44114 USA)
Thereafter we began our drive for Chicago some 350 miles away.
Since we were driving through South Bend and had some time on our hands we decided to do a quick tour to Notre Dame University on the way.
We visited the Notre Dame Football stadium since the Fighting Irish are a prominent team on the college football scene so it was a good experience to at least view the stadium if not being possible to be part of live action!
We did a quick tour to the Admissions building and Washington Hall and thereafter continued our drive back to Chicago.
Finally we completed our close to 1800 miles of driving and 3 cities 3 states tour and most importantly without getting pulled over by a cop!