After spending the past couple days mostly inside at museums, it was time for a change. On our fifth day of vacation, we headed to the National Zoo to spend the day outdoors.
I love going to zoos, so I was excited about our destination for the day. We took the Metro to the Zoo stop and then it's a short walk of a couple of blocks. It's uphill though so it wasn't the easiest walk, but we saw lots of interesting buildings and homes and it was a nice day.
Once we arrived at the zoo, we dove right in. The National Zoo is the only Smithsonian facility we visited that did not provide free paper maps. You could buy one for $2, but we elected to skip that option. They do have signs with maps posted around the zoo, so you don't get lost, but it would have been nice to know where we were all the time.
The National Zoo has a nice variety of animals and we took our time walking around and visiting all of them. As I said, the weather was nice that day and it wasn't crowded at all.
Here are just a few of the animals we saw that day...
Pandas! I was very excited about the pandas since this is only 1 of 4 zoos in the United States to have pandas. They were very cute and I took lots of pictures. Sadly, most of them didn't turn out well due to the poor lighting and the fact that pandas don't like to pose for pictures. We spent a lot of time watching this guy eat and we even made a second trip back to the pandas after we saw all the other animals.
Owls! The zoo actually has several different breeds of owls which was exciting because our local zoo only has one barn owl.
Orangutans - These guys were being very playful and entertaining.
Lots of lizards and other reptiles and amphibians
Lions and other big cats
And of course, Red Pandas! I took tons of pictures of this baby red panda and his parents. But again, poor lighting and movement meant not so great pictures. I spent a long time watching him explore and play. The red pandas are in a temporary exhibit in the Giant Panda's building while the Red Panda home is remodeled.
Sadly, this is probably the closest I'll ever get to touching a Red Panda.
I mentioned before that we tried to avoid buying food at the museums because it was horribly overpriced. We did get lunch at the zoo because we needed to keep our strength up for all the walking we were doing and there wasn't any place outside of the zoo to eat. (That we knew of anyway.) The food was typical zoo food, but it was what we needed and we got souvenir cups to take home.
After the zoo, we took the Metro to Dupont Circle in DC. Prior to our trip, I had been researching places to eat and I looked into some cupcake shops. One of them was called Hello Cupcake and it sounded good. My friend Tricia had been to DC a couple weeks before our trip and she checked it out. She recommended them, so we decided to visit and pick up some cupcakes to enjoy later.
The shop was really cute and they had a good assortment of flavors. We got 4 different flavors to try. It was really hard not to eat them right then, but I did manage to get them back to the hotel safely.
Our flavors were...
Peanut Butter Blossom - Chocolate cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate kiss. M picked this one. The cupcake had a great chocolate flavor and was very moist, but the peanut butter frosting was a bit rich for my tastes. I did like them together, but it was a good thing we split this one!
Heart of Darkness - Devil's food cupcake topped with chocolate ganache-based frosting and real chocolate chip sprinkles. OMG, this was good! I LOVE chocolate and this delivered. The frosting was thick and rich. Luckily I had snagged some bottles of milk from the free breakfast and stored them in our fridge. I definitely needed milk to help wash this one down. Only eat this one if you are serious about your chocolate.
Prima Donna - Chocolate cupcake topped with strawberry buttercream frosting. M's pick. This one was all M's. I tried it, but the strawberry buttercream frosting was too sweet for me.
You Tart! - Lemon cupcake topped with lemon cream cheese frosting. My favorite! As much as I liked the Heart of Darkness, this one was tops for me. The fresh lemon taste was refreshing and not overpowering at all. The frosting was delicious. I savored every bite of this one and I crave it all the time. This made me realize just how much I love a good lemon cupcake.
We only have one day left in DC, what will we do next?