Washington DC: 16 Ideas for Traveler's Shopping

Washington DC: 16 Ideas for Traveler's Shopping

The capital of the United States is an attraction in its own right and many things that have originated here or in the nearby areas are of great cultural and historic significance. To decide which of them can make for an ideal souvenir for you to bring home, check out the proposed list of local items to help you memorize your trip to Washington, DC.

1. White House Christmas Ornament

White House Christmas Ornament
Image Courtesy of: David
In 1981, the first official White House ornament was sold and since then it has become a popular collector’s item. A new design is offered each year. Some honor past presidents, including Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson; some depict famous scenes, such as Washington crossing the Delaware; while others highlight historic buildings, like the Capitol. An additional ornament was created in 2006 to commemorate the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Many past ornaments are available. Prices start at $16.00 and up, depending on availability. The 2011 ornament featured President Theodore Roosevelt and the 2012 ornament honored President William Howard Taft. Ornaments are also offered to charitable groups for fundraising. They are available at the White House Visitor Center and at many gift shops throughout the city and suburbs.
Where to find it:
White House Visitor Center, 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20038; 202-737-8292. Hours 7:30 am to 4 pm daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days.
http://www.whitehousehistory.org/shop/

2. Blue Canton China

Blue Canton China
Set your table as Martha Washington did with this replica of the “everyday” china used at Mount Vernon. In the 1700s, this popular blue-and-white china was imported from the city of Canton, China, and depicted typical Chinese scenes of mountains, pagodas, and rivers. Despite the far away scenery, the style is classic early-American and will enhance any table, whether you decide to go for the whole collection or just a few choice pieces. A five-piece place setting includes a dinner plate, dessert plate, bread-and-butter plates, and a cup and saucer. Individual pieces can also be purchased along with tea sets, serving dishes, and pitchers. The look of this beautiful porcelain china is old, but the convenience is all modern, as everything is dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
Five-piece setting is $210.00. Other pieces vary in price.
Where to find it:
The Mount Vernon Shop, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309; 703-780-2000. Hours 8 am to 5 pm, April to August; 9 am to 5 pm, March, September, and October; 9 am to 4 pm November to February.
http://www.mountvernon.org/shop/new-shop

3. Hope Diamond Necklace

Hope Diamond Necklace
Certainly, the most famous gem in the world, the Hope Diamond, is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The diamond is believed to have its origins in India, where it was discovered by a Frenchman who brought it back to France. The legend says that it was stolen from an idol and whoever owns it will be cursed. Whether it's true or not, the gem has passed through the hands of people who have certainly fallen on hard times. Sold first to Louis XIV of France, it was passed down to Louis XVI and lost after a raid on the Royal jewels after the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. Although what happened afterwards is uncertain, the diamond eventually ended up in the hands of a British banker by the name of Thomas Hope. It was kept in that family for three generations until his great-grand nephew was forced to sell it because of his gambling debts. The diamond arrived in New York in 1902 and was eventually purchased by flamboyant Washington DC socialite, Evalyn Walsh McLean, who wore it often. She suffered misfortunes, while owning the gem, including the death of two of her children, her alcoholic husband running off, and financial problems. Upon her death, the diamond was sold to Harry Winston, Inc., who then donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. While not the real thing, of course, the gift shop at the museum sells a beautiful replica that can be worn as a pin or a pendant. The dazzling blue stone is glass and the white stones surrounding it are cubic zirconia. Curse not included.
Price for the pendant is $110.00.
Where to find it:
Museum of Natural History, 1000 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20560; 202-633-1000. Hours 10 am to 5:30 pm daily except Christmas Day. http://www.mnh.si.edu/

4. Supreme Court Cufflinks

Supreme Court Cufflinks
Classic cufflinks with the seal of the United States Supreme Court will not only adorn your cuffs, but be a conversation starter as well. The cufflinks are gold-plated with navy blue background behind the seal, also in gold. The seal was established in 1782 after six years of design consultation. It features an eagle, the national bird, carrying a shield. The eagle is holding a banner in his mouth, bearing the words, “E Pluribus Unum,” the motto of the United States. Above the eagle’s head is a grouping of 13 stars representing the 13 colonies which became states upon independence. At the eagle’s tail is one star representing the “One Supreme Court.”
Price for the cufflinks is $65.
Where to find it:
The Supreme Court Gift Shop, One First Street, NE, Washington DC 20543; 202-554-8300. Hours 9 am to 4:25 pm Monday to Friday except Federal holidays.
http://supremecourtgifts.org/about-us.aspx

5. Virginia Peanuts

Virginia Peanuts
While peanuts grow all over the South, notably in Georgia, where President Jimmy Carter grew up on a peanut farm, anyone who has had a Virginia peanut will agree that these are superior! The peanuts here grow large and have a distinctive crunchiness and have been dubbed “the peanut of the gourmet.” Several companies throughout the commonwealth of Virginia slow roast these delicacies and sell them by the tin, salted or unsalted. They make a great gift, but be sure to buy enough for yourself too. And don’t just stop at roasted peanuts; try the peanut brittle, peanut pie, and peanut soup, a colonial favorite! Virginia peanuts are available in many supermarkets, Whole Foods stores and gift shops.
Price for a small tin is approximately $5.
Where to find it:
Whole Foods Market, 2700 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201; 703-527-6596. Hours daily 8 am to 10:30 pm.
http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/arlington/

6. LEGO White House Building Set

LEGO White House Building Set
Image Courtesy of: Ronny Nussbaum
Build your own model of this classic building, the home of every U.S. president since John Adams. This LEGO set comes with 560 pieces and a booklet on the history and fun facts of this iconic home. The White House is open to the public for tours arranged through your Congressperson or, for foreign nationals, through the Embassy of your country. Reservations must be made in advance. But it’s an amazing sight just from the open ellipse off Constitution Avenue or from Pennsylvania Avenue, which is the front of the house. The LEGO set is appropriate for ages 12 and up.
Price for the set is $55.
Where to find it:
National Building Museum Shop, 401 F Street NW, Washington DC 20001; 202-272-7706. Hours 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm Sunday.
http://www.nbm.org/

7. Palladian Book Ends

Palladian Book Ends
Mount Vernon was not only the home, but the favorite place to be, for the first president, George Washington. On the north side of the house is the dining room which features an arching Palladian window, inspired by the 16th-century Italian architect, Andrea Palladio, and popular during the American Federalist era of architecture of the mid-1700s. The center window stretches from floor to ceiling and is flanked by narrower windows, not quite as tall. Their placement would have given the Washingtons a nice view across the meadow and to the river. The bookends, designed to replicate the windows, are made of ivory-colored polystone and stand 7 inches tall. They will grace any bookshelf with the grandeur of this beautiful historic home.
Price for a pair of bookends is $50.
Where to find it:
The Mount Vernon Shop, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309; 703-780-2000. Hours 8 am to 5 pm, April to August; 9 am to 5 pm, March, September, and October; 9 am to 4 pm November to February.
http://www.mountvernon.org/shop/new-shop

8. Lantern from Mount Vernon

Lantern from Mount Vernon
Light your walkway or patio with this classic black lantern, perfect for summer barbecues or winter celebrations. The traditional colonial design has never gone out of style and they are still used today at Mount Vernon. For two weekends in December, the outdoor walkways of the estate are lit only with the lanterns to light the path for the annual “Christmas with the Washingtons” evening tour. They can be set on the ground or hung from a hook, or from a special curved stand that is also for sale and hangs the lantern at about three feet off the ground. Each lantern is 16 inches high and holds an 8- to 10-inch taper candle.
Price for the lantern is $40; price for the stand is $29.
Where to find it:
The Mount Vernon Shop, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309; 703-780-2000. Hours 8 am to 5 pm, April to August; 9 am to 5 pm, March, September, and October; 9 am to 4 pm November to February.
http://www.mountvernon.org/shop/new-shop

9. Gargoyle Statue

Gargoyle Statue
The National Cathedral stands as a symbol of spiritual harmony and compassion among all faiths for this country and throughout the world. The Gothic-style building took a century to complete and is in the process of being repaired after suffering significant damage in an earthquake in August 2011. It remains open to the public and many tours are offered, including one highlighting the gargoyles and grotesques, situated around the outside of the building. Some of the statues are humorous, such as one of a cat chasing a mouse, while some are scary, like a snake with huge fangs, and others represent American culture, most notably the Darth Vader gargoyle. Replicas of some of these are available in the Cathedral Shop either as cute garden ornaments or to scare off any pests in your yard! Each statue is made of polyresin and they come in a variety of sizes.
Price for a statue, approximately 11 inches tall, is $25; price for a large statue, approximately 2 feet tall, is $250.
Where to find it:
Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20016; 202-537-6267. Hours daily 10 am to 5 pm.
http://shop.cathedral.org/

10. Dominion Brew

Dominion Brew
Founded in Ashburn, Virginia, about 45 minutes outside of Washington DC, this brewery produces ten varieties of lager, ale, and other beers; and two soft drinks, root beer and ginger ale. It was founded by Jerry Bailey, a Federal employee, looking for a little something extra for his life. When he was gifted a home-brewing kit, the seeds of Dominion Brewery were planted. Today, it’s a large company that supplies restaurants, bars and stores throughout the greater Washington DC area. The ales, lager, stout and soft drinks are available year-round; then there are specialty beers offered only in certain seasons, such as the Baltic Porter (winter) and the Beach House Pilsner (summer). Look for it in most stores that sell beer and at your favorite restaurant or bar.
Price for a six-pack starts at approximately $7.
Where to find it:
Old Dominion Brewing Company, 1284 McD Drive, Dover, DE 19901; 302-678-4810.
http://www.olddominion.com/

11. Mount Vernon Stemless Wine Glasses

Mount Vernon Stemless Wine Glasses
A modern keepsake from a traditional place, these stemless wine glasses are stylish and still keep the memory of the historic estate. They have wide rims and a 16-ounce capacity, allowing plenty of room for the wine to breathe and less chance of spilling. They are easy to transport to a picnic or a concert in the park without fear of breaking delicate stems. The contemporary design shows a sideways wine bottle and the word “WINE” and the inscription of Mount Vernon. A perfect and practical way to remember your visit! The glasses are sold in a set of four.
Price for the set is $25.
Where to find it:
The Mount Vernon Shop, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309; 703-780-2000. Hours 8 am to 5 pm, April to August; 9 am to 5 pm, March, September, and October; 9 am to 4 pm November to February.
http://www.mountvernon.org/shop/new-shop

12. Jigsaw Puzzles of National Gallery Paintings

Jigsaw Puzzles of National Gallery Paintings
Enjoy some the beautiful paintings from the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art anytime with fun jigsaw puzzles. The works of Claude Monet, Carl Larsson, and Frank Lloyd Wright, among others, are available as 1,000 piece puzzles. Learn more about each of these renowned artists as you reassemble the colorful paintings. Puzzles are appropriate for ages 6 and up, and are a fun family project.
Prices for puzzles range from $14.95 to $19.95.
Where to find it:
National Gallery of Art Shop, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20565; 202-737-4215. Hours 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm Sunday except Christmas Day and New Years Day.
http://shop.nga.gov/

13. Georgetown University Sweatshirt

Georgetown University Sweatshirt
The quaint neighborhood of Georgetown has become known for its upscale boutiques and restaurants, but it is most known for the excellent university that sits on the hill above the million-plus dollar townhomes. One of the oldest universities in the United States, Georgetown was established in 1789 by the Jesuits. It has become one of the finest institutions of higher education, especially their schools of medicine and law. Take a walk through the campus with its classic buildings and spired rooftops, and stop at the bookstore for a souvenir. The traditional blue sweatshirt with the hood is made of fleece and has a full zipper and tie at the neck. Several designs are available; most sweatshirts are in blue or gray, the colors of the school.
Price for a sweatshirt starts at $48.
Where to find it:
Georgetown University Bookstore, 3800 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington DC 20007; 202-687-7482. Hours Monday to Friday 9 am to 7 pm, Saturday to Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.
http://Georgetown.Bkstr.com

14. Posters from the National Gallery of Art

Posters from the National Gallery of Art
After viewing the varied collections of artwork that make up the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, take home something to hang on your own walls. Many of the paintings in the permanent collection, which include Gustav Klimt, Mary Cassatt, and Andy Warhol, are available as posters, along with some posters from special exhibits, which have included Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Picasso. Posters come in various sizes. Prints are either 11 x 14 inches or 16 x 20 inches. Mailing tubes are available for $5.
Prices for posters range from $18 to $36; 11 x 14 prints are $3; and 16 x 20 prints are $29.
Where to find it:
National Gallery of Art Shop, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20565; 202-737-4215. Hours 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm Sunday except Christmas Day and New Years Day.
http://shop.nga.gov/

15. Virginia Viognier Wine

Virginia Viognier Wine
Originating from the northern Rhone Valley in France, the Viognier grape has become the official grape of the Commonwealth of Virginia as it grows well in the mild winters and damp summers of the region. Virginia is fast becoming as popular a wine-producing state as California, Oregon, and Washington. The Viognier produces a crisp, fruity white wine with floral undertones that is dry, not sweet. An extremely versatile wine, it pairs as easily with spicy Thai food as it does with a simple quiche. It’s a wine that even those, who say they don’t care for whites, will love. Less than an hour’s drive from the city is Loudoun County, Virginia, which has become a wine-lovers paradise, with more than 25 wineries, and is the fastest-growing wine-producing county in the state. Most have tasting rooms and many offer a Viognier. Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, is set amidst rolling hills and grape vines, and has a lovely patio with tables if you want to stay and enjoy the view, some wine and a picnic. Tastings are held in small groups, so questions can be answered and the rich history of the area be explained. Prices are in the $25 to $35 range. Virginia Viogniers can also be found in many local wine stores; in Virginia wine is sold in grocery stores, as well as specialty wine stores; in Washington DC, wines are sold only at liquor stores.
Where to find it:
Chrysalis Vineyards, 23876 Champe Ford Road, Middleburg, VA 20117; 540-687-8222. Hours 10 am to 5:30 pm daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days.
http://www.chrysaliswine.com/begin.htm

16. Mount Vernon Mulled Cider

Mount Vernon Mulled Cider
Rumor has it that George and Martha enjoyed mulled cider on many occasions and, probably, made their own at the first president’s farm, a few miles away from Mount Vernon, although they also purchased several gallons at a time, especially during the holidays. The cider sold at the Mount Vernon shops is a slightly sparkling, non-alcoholic beverage that is probably very close to what the Washingtons drank. The naturally sweet apple is enhanced by the infusion of spices. While the recipe is a secret, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg are very apparent. There is no added sugar or preservatives and the effervescence comes from natural fermentation of the sugars in the fruit. Perfect for any festive occasion or just to experience a delicious glass of history. It also goes well with cheeses, seafood and dishes with a little spicy heat.
Price for a 750-milliliter bottle is $5.95.
Where to find it:
The Mount Vernon Shop, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309; 703-780-2000. Hours 8 am to 5 pm, April to August; 9 am to 5 pm, March, September, and October; 9 am to 4 pm November to February.
http://www.mountvernon.org/shop/new-shop
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