Thank goodness for long weekends, that’s all I have to say! Mine was a-hustlin’ and a-bustlin’ with trips to the dog park, homemade sushi, and getting schwasted-faced at my friends’ band’s show. Before all of that, though, my work-free Friday started off with a trip to the zoo!

Autumnal Zoo

I always forget that the National Zoo is so easily accessibly, picturesque, and the best part, FREE! So when my friend Sarah suggested we hit it up, I was more than game!

Zoo Lights
Asian Trail

As evidenced by the incredibly wind-blown hair I’m sporting in the picture that Sarah took of me above, it ended up being quite the blustery day. That certainly didn’t stop us from getting trigger happy with our cameras though!

Say Cheese!

Cheetahs and pandas and elephants, oh my!

Cheetah Cheetah!

We had been hoping that the new elephant house they’re building would have been ready, but we were off by… oh, about 2 years. (2013 y’all!) I really like that the National Zoo brings so much attention and fundraising to the diminishing Asian elephant population, so the existing exhibit was still a lot of fun to check out.

Donate to a Good Cause

Especially for those of us with an incredibly sophisticated sense of humor…


Post-zoo, we went to have lunch at Open City, a neat little coffeshop/restaurant/bar right by the metro.

Open City

It was really cute! The place was hoppin’ so the service was a tad slow but I loved their drink menu: so many different kinds of teas! Sarah got a mulled apple cider that was to die for.

Also, she has the best iPhone case EVER. I want.

Inevitably I ended up being too indecisive on the beverage front, so I just stuck with water to go alongside my Open City burger. Cheeseburger + bacon, yes prz!


After nommage, I continued my social Friday by meeting Hilary for coffee! I felt horrible because with all the travel time from the zoo I ended up being SUPER late for our meeting (and I generally pride myself for my punctuality, shocking as that may sound) but she graciously forgave me and we had a great conversation.

Hi Hilary!

She also generously gave me a couple cases of La Croix sparkling water because she ended up trying it and hating it, haha. More for me!

Are you a zoo-goer? I know that many people feel strongly against zoos and aquariums, and that they can be kind of controversial. That being said, I have to admit that I do still like visiting them. I think part of it continues to stem from my continued hope that one time they’re just going to let me take one of the otters home with me.


  1. I love the zoo! Of course I’m aware of the controversies surrounding them: but assuming the zoo is well-run and the animals are cared for properly, I think they serve an important function. Otherwise most people would never be able to see any of those animals in real life, thus developing an interest in them and hopefully their conservation (if you don’t know about something, why would you care if it disappears or not?). Also, for the really endangered animals, zoos are some of the few places where they still exist, and hopefully, can be preserved (pandas, tigers, rhinos for instance).

    There is nothing more depressing than a bad zoo though.

    • I agree with you on both counts. I remember going to a “zoo” or two (I use that term loosely since there wasn’t much there) in Taiwan and it was not as pleasant an experience.

      • Do you have family there? I used to live in Taiwan and loved it but it’s not really a tourist hot spot (unfortunately in my opinion).

        I only went to the zoo in Taipei but thought it was quite good actually. Humorously, they had a display of raccoons!!!, which were much admired by all the Taiwanese (“so cute”). I always think of them as aggressive and annoying pests so it was strange to see them along with the lions and elephants.

        • I used to live there too! The Chinese side of my family is actually from Hong Kong, but we moved there for a while because of my dad’s job, and I actually went to high school at the Taipei American School from grades 9 – 11. The thing I remember most vividly in terms of zoo-like places there is the Crocodile Farm that I visited once in Southern Taiwan. We saw a man wrestle a croc. It was crazy!

  2. I love the zoo as well… been to, what I think of, as the mother of all zoos – the San Diego Zoo – AWESOME. And the Pittsburgh Zoo as well. Oh my.. this post made me laugh out loud! Thanks for meeting up with me Gretchen – it was so nice to meet you and I’m so glad you were able to take those waters off my hands! I hope this week starts off better for ya!

  3. I was going to comment on how feisty your hair is and how much I love it but then you went and threw in a trip to Open City!? I love that place! I used to live right across the street from there!!

  4. I love the zoo and wasn’t aware of the controversy. I guess I’ve always thought that many zoo’s work on conservation efforts. Dunno if the same is true for aquariums but I LOVE THOSE. I visited DC a couple years ago and went to the one down town…so…lame. I need to check out the Baltimore Aquarium, have you been? I grew up in Omaha and the zoo there was amazing. Largest in door jungle in the world and just all in all awesome. Of course I was 2-8 yrs old so that may have increased my wonder. Also, your hair color rocks!

    • I have been to the B-more Aquarium, and it is definitely impressive. I’ve also been to the Georgia Aquarium (is it still the biggest in the world?) and was floored. I can’t help it, I just love getting to see these animals that I would NEVER get to see in real life!

  5. Katesays:

    Having lived 9 miles outside of Baltimore my entire life, Ive been to the aquarium, oh, about a million times. I still cant walk through the shark area without getting extremely nervous and shaky. I was lost in that area when I was 6 and was bitten by a cigar shark when I was 11, so needless to say, I am not a big fan of sharks. Although, cigar sharks are about 3 feet in length when at its largest… Im wimpy, I know.

    The zoo on the other hand… LOVE IT!

    • Augh! I’m not a fan of sharks and I’ve never even come into physical contact with one, so you definitely have more than your fair share of reasons to be!

  6. I love the zoo! It’s too bad I can never get to the Bronx one as often as I’d like. 🙂

    ps. LOVE the hair!

  7. I also love your hair. And I really like zoos – I think it’s fun to see the different environments and I always learn something new when I’m there. I feel like there are always new things to see too which is really nice. I am spoiled by our free zoo though cause I’ve been to other zoos and it’s always a surprise when you have to pay to get in.

  8. Karensays:

    LOVE the DC zoo. That was my zoo growing up and I still have not been to another that I love as much.

    I so need to move back to DC.

  9. Heathersays:

    Hey!! So I have been reading for a while now (since the CC profile) and then today I just had to comment because I actually live in Woodley Park (as of the beginning of September) and I LOVE the zoo too! And, I work at Open City (nights and weekends; also as of September – go figure, haha). That is so cool that you were there! I hope you enjoyed everything and it sounds like a great start to a long weekend! If you happen to find yourself back in the area I hope I run in to you! =) Have a great week!

    • Yay! I’m glad I could lure you out of hiding with this mention then. We’ll definitely have to arrange a part 2 of my zoo-filled adventure (or, you know, just doing one of many other things available in Woodley Park/Adams Morgan/whatever) so that we can meet up!!

      • Heathersays:

        Definitely! I would love that! As a newbie to the city, I am always looking to meet up with new people and explore! Woodley/Adams Morgan better watch out!

  10. Free zoo?! Wait, wait, wait…are all Zoos in the US free? Not so much in the UK but they are incredibly good on the conservation front over here.

    • I think most zoos cost money to visit. The DC National Zoo is free because it’s technically part of the Smithsonian Museums, which are all free. So I’m just lucky!

  11. I feel like the good zoos usually take pretty good care of their animals and do work to raise money and awareness of animals in danger–I’ve never been to a sketchy one, so I like to believe they all just have good intentions 🙂 I like the zoo, but never end up going. I did go to the San Diego one recently though and that was FANTASTIC! I’m glad you’re having fun and keeping busy! 🙂

  12. What a great post! I haven’t been to a zoo in FOREVER. When I think of zoos, I usually think of depressing places where the animals pace back and forth, bored and restless. But your account of the day you spent just shows how wrong I am! Thanks so much for sharing.

    I’ve never been to Taiwan, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the PRC. The only thing I remember about the zoos there is a great brown owl in a sunny cage (???!!!!) at the zoo in Harbin. Oh, and the seriously awesome dumplings sold by a street vendor right outside the one in Beijing.

    BTW, the hair rocks!

  13. I love that zoo! Every time I go all of the animals decide they want to take a nap, but I still love it so much.
    Also your hair looks great! Love the color 😀

  14. Did you dye your hair??? it looks redish/beautiful in some of the pics!

  15. You hair is so cute (even when wind blown). Loving that color on you. And your turqoise scarf is awesome.

    I love the zoo!

  16. Isn’t open city like the most delicious place ever in the whole wide world? I’m obsesssed. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow!!

  17. So… all of the posts on the super cool things to do around the D.C. area make me really excited to finish my graduate app to UMD College Park. If I get in, I’m going to be like, SOCLOSE. (To the zoo, duh.)

    This random comment is brought to you by a completely fried brain that just doesn’t want to read my writing sample for the 9854658198419851498th time anymore. Carry on.

    • Bahahahahaha! I love it. YES, get into CP and then we’ll hang out all the tiiiiime 😀

      • And by ‘hang out all the time’ you mean sitting nomming sushi and talking about going running, but getting distracted by things like puppies from actually running.

        Nah, we’d run! (And nom..) Whining about running while running is better when there is someone else to go “When does this mile eeeeeeend?!” with.

  18. Hi Gretchen. I LOVE the zoo and aquariums. The places I’ve visited seem to treat their creatures with respect, love and admiration. Speaking of creatures, OMG, the puppy pictures on your last post, they made me AWWWW out loud. All the best for the week ahead!!!! Take care!!!

  19. The National Zoo is totally on my list of things to do next time I’m in the Northern Virginia area! I haven’t been to a zoo probably since I was in middle school and I am upset about that!

    I’ve been to the aquarium in Baltimore 3 times and I loveeee it there! Go if you ever get the chance!

  20. Gracesays:

    Okay, there’s no echo in here… I LOVE your hair! Can I ask, did you do that color yourself? Or is there a local salon/colorist that you could perhaps recommend? 🙂

    • Thank you!! I do have a local hairdresser whom I loooooove (Sarah at Blown Salon in Alexandria, if you’re interested) but this time my color came straight from a box! Self-applied, yo! Garnier HerbaShinw #426 “Dark Burgundy”. 😀

  21. You should check out Zoo Lights this winter! They do a great job with it, and it’s really fun (and free!).

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