Road Trip

Road Trippin Summer 2019: Pennsylvania, Washington DC and Virginia

August 23, 2019

Road Trippin Summer 2019 primary purpose of our trip is to Washington, DC, for my daughter to sing and play her guitar at the Kennedy Center. Keira had this opportunity by taking music lessons at the Rochester Academy Of Music and Arts.  Each year the Academy makes arrangements for their students to perform at high-class venues to give them performance practice.


As the event drew nearer, my daughter and son kept begging me to take them to the ocean nearby. In previous years, we drove to Outer Banks, North Carolina, to enjoy the sea. Even though I love Outer Banks, it would not be an option on this trip. It would be too expensive and too far away from Washington, DC.

children at the beach

Virginia Beach came to mind as an alternative beach location. I remember passing by there the last time we went to North Carolina. I checked the prices of hotels in Virginia Beach — $150-$200 per night. And they had terrible reviews! I went to Air BnB and with careful research, I found The Maxwell Mansion where they rent a one-bedroom with two queen size beds. It was $80 per night — in my price range for this trip — so I reserved it.

Then we learned that my sister bought my mother a plane ticket to fly here from the Philippines for a visit. I asked my hubby if we could bring my mom with us so she can see her granddaughter perform and spend time with our family. Our plan to drive directly from Rochester, New York to Washington, DC, changed. Instead, we left a day early and slept at my sister’s house.

Sunset in the road

Final One Week Itinerary For Our Road Trip 2019

Friday ( Rochester, New York- Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania )

We left the house at 5:00 pm on Friday as it is a 4-hour drive to my sister’s house. We made a quick stop at McDonald’s to use the restroom and get gas at the adjacent gas station. It was a smooth ride to PA, and the kids couldn’t wait to see their cousins again. We arrived at 9: 02 pm, and to our surprise, my nephews were still awake. I always love seeing their happy, welcoming faces every time we come to visit. While the kids were having fun, I was busy eating Filipino foods and enjoyed looking at all my gift (Pasalubong) from my Tita and Mama from the Philippines. My sister, mama, and I stayed up ’til midnight!

Saturday ( Fairfax, Virginia and Washington, DC )

We woke up early on Saturday morning, but we didn’t leave until 8: 30 am so the kids had a little more time to play. Then we drove 4 hours plus from the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to Fairfax, Virginia. We met Nate’s brother and his family for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Fairfax.  After our stopover, we drove the 30 minutes to Washington, DC. To my surprise, there was no traffic on that Saturday. Checking-in to our hotel was easy peasy. As a budget-conscious traveler, I look for quality accommodations at a reasonable price. The River Inn met my criteria in both respects. We were happy to stay there.

Fairfax Virginia Fun in Fairfax Virginia

We arrived in our room at 4:00 pm. Being tired from our fun time in Fairfax, Virginia we decided to rest and lay down for a bit before heading to Kennedy Center to watch the show and see my daughter perform “We Know The Way” from the movie, “Moana.”

Kennedy Center Us as the supportive family

The clock ticks faster, and it feels like we never rested. The next thing we know it’s already time to prepare and go to the Kennedy Center. The show went so well, but I had to ask my hubby to go back to our hotel at 9:00 pm because our son was so tired and sleepy. If you have younger kids, who aren’t excited to attend an event like this be warned that this can happen. My mama and I stayed until the very end of the show, and she, Keira, and I walked back to our hotel with no problem. It took us 10 minutes to walk from Kennedy Center to The River Inn.

Sunday ( Smithsonian Zoo Washington, DC and Virginia )

Our initial plan for this day was to visit the zoo with some friends, but they canceled at the last minute because their kids were sickly. We proceeded with our plan, however, and were happy that Nate’s brother and his family were able to join us. Our kids had another chance to see their baby cousin.

Rodes Family

We woke up early Sunday morning and arrived at the zoo at 10:00 am. I’m glad we parked in the C section of the parking lot. It’s in the middle of the parking lot. That handy because whichever side of the zoo you end up on, the top or the bottom, you don’t have to walk far to your car.

Parking C

The zoo opens at 9:45 am for their meet and greet, and their shows start at 10:00 am. Our goal was to make it to the Dinosaur Show for my son to enjoy it. I made my hubby and kids hurry ahead to be sure they could make it to the show on time while I walked with my mama at her own pace. We all did enjoy the zoo and left at around 4:00 pm.

It was a 4-hour drive from Washington, DC to Chesapeake, Virginia, and The Maxwell Mansion. John, our host, opened the door, welcoming us into the main foyer of the mansion. He told us the rules of the Mansion–what areas were open to us and what areas were private. It was pretty straightforward and easy. Then we headed to bed as we were tired and sleepy after our long drive.

Monday ( Virginia Beach )

We woke up early and found a place called Waffle House, a 3-minute drive from the Mansion. The prices are great! We paid a total of $21 for all our food. The quality is okay. For that reason, Waffle House is not a place where I would always want to come back to, but if you’re on a budget and not picky about your food, I think you will be satisfied here.

Waffle House Morning Breakfast

The drive from the Mansion to the beach took us 35- 40 minutes without traffic. If the main highlight of your trip is to spend time on the beach then it is more practical to stay at the beach area than driving here. There are lots of things to do near Chesapeake, Virginia and if that what you’re interested to do then staying here at the mansion would be better.

We arrived at Virginia Beach at 10:00 am, and it was already scorching hot. We rented an umbrella for $15 so we wouldn’t be directly under the sun and can get some shade to rest. The kids enjoyed the beach all day. They played football and tried to catch the waves from morning until we left. It was the best day ever for the kids.

I did not expect the beach to be so crowded on a Monday, but of course, it is summer, and Virginia Beach is a tourist area, so I suppose crowds are to be expected. I love it here, glad that everyone cleaned up after themselves. The fact that the surroundings were so clean made the crowded conditions tolerable.


We left the beach around 4: 00 pm as we were starving. We stumbled onto the Mosaic Cafe. It’s Turkish cuisine, and we did enjoy our food. We ordered a pina colada, pineapple mango juice, a round of pizza, a shrimp from their appetizer and chicken with rice. We left the place full and even brought home a few leftovers.

Mosaic Cafe

We continued roaming around the area, finding some souvenirs, before heading back to the Mansion.

Tuesday ( Mansion and Virginia Beach )

I purposely allocated this day to stay at the Mansion for the kids to enjoy the pool. The Mansion has a big pool and many pool toys to choose from. We left the place at around 3: 00 pm so we could enjoy the beach area when it wouldn’t be too hot for us to roam around the boardwalk.

We walked from 16th Street to 5th Street until we were again starving and found the Chix On The Beach Restaurant. It’s a great restaurant to go to when you are in this area. I highly recommend this restaurant. The price is reasonable, and the quality of the food is top-notch.

Chix On The Beach

I planned to stay at the boardwalk so we could enjoy the nightlife and find something family-oriented, but the weather did not cooperate. We ended our night at a game place where the kids enjoyed the video games and hubby got to play his guitar hero, basketball, jackpot, and so much more. Around 8:00 pm, the rain started to pour and we headed home.

Note: Walking the boardwalk at around this time is a perfect time to do so as it is hot but not too hot as the sun is going down.

Wednesday ( Virginia Beach, Aquarium, Washington, DC )

Arriving at the beach at around 8:10 am was the best thing we did. We wanted to catch the sunrise and were worried that we would miss it. Instead, we arrived at the perfect time as the sun came out at almost 9: 00 am.

Virginia Beach

There were people on the beach before us, but the beach was still quiet and relaxing. My family was able to play catch with the football and walk around the beach area. While hubby and kids did that, I tried to find Neptune Park.  I was eager to jog it with my swimsuit on, and my family was too lazy to walk 34 minutes each way. But my phone maps could not give me correct directions. I kept running from one course to another, so after feeling stupid, I decided to drive to the place instead after we swim. Lol!

Running to Neptune Park

We caught the waves together as a family holding each other’s hands as we jumped from one stream to another. The kids’ laughter was priceless. All of us enjoyed this so much, even though the water was colder than we expected. At noon we left the swimming area and headed to Neptune Park to see the King Neptune landmark. We were happy that we made this quick trip from 16th Street to 31st Street. It was only a 7-minute drive. Then we discovered that there is a Duck Donuts in the area. If you’re wondering what it is, it’s a donut that is famous in Duck, North Carolina. My daughter and I are crazy about Duck Donuts. They are the best donuts we’ve ever eaten. You can watch them cook the donuts right in front of you get to choose what flavor you want for your toppings.

Neptune Park



We spent from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. I let the kids pick which one they wanted to do first. The buildings were clean, and the displays are hands-on for everyone. Kyle loved touching the stingrays, watching the snakes crawl and having eye to eye contact with the alligator! Lol! This animal encounter is not the first time Kyle’s had a close encounter with a wild animal. When we were on a safari in Cebu, Philippines a tiger followed Kyle. That was cool and sweet but honestly, also scary. Ha, ha!

We arrived back at The River Inn in Washington, DC, at around 7: 30 pm. To our surprise, our reservation had been upgraded to a Suite room. It had two queen beds in the bedroom, a couch that could unfold into a queen bed, and a dining table and chairs. It was comfier than the regular room we stayed in last Saturday.


The highlight of our day was to see the White House. The kids, especially Kyle, was always asking where the President lives. We tried to include a visit to the White House in our itinerary two years ago, but the weather was too stormy that time to walk that far. I’m glad this time we had good weather.

We managed to find a parking spot right in front of the Washington Monument, and we walked to the White House. After our visit, we drove outside the city and ate at Chipotle for lunch before heading to our next adventure.

Before driving to George Washington’s house in Mount Vernon, Nate went to their website to check for the ticket prices. He noticed a promo box and searched for a promo code online. Nate’s find gave us almost 40% off the original ticket price.



We arrived at George Washington’s estate at 12:30 pm.  Our tour was scheduled for 1:30 pm. so we were able to spend some time looking for souvenir section and bought our souvenirs ahead of our tour around the mansion. We spent a total of 3 hours here. For me, that was not enough time. I recommend allocating at least a day as there is so much to learn and see. It is worth your time. George Washington was a great person and leader.

George Washington House

We left Mount Vernon at 4:00 pm and arrived at my sister’s place at 9:02 pm. Our ride back to Pennsylvania was enjoyable. We got to see a new, long bridge in Virginia, get gas in Delaware and pass through a tunnel in Philadelphia. It’s fun to be on a new route and journey through two States and one District.



Yippee, it’s a rest day! We just stayed at my sister’s house, enjoying our time as a family. My daughter grabbed the opportunity to bake a cake for her cousin as we won’t be able to celebrate his birthday with them. The three older kids enjoyed mixing the batter with Keira and baking it together. They had fun and the birthday boy was so proud that he was able to do it.



The kids played while we were packing and preparing to go home. We then all drove to a bowling place 45 minutes away from my sister’s house. It’s like a stopover for us since the route is on the way to Rochester, New York.

Bowling place

The bowling place is enormous. It can accommodate a lot of players, and the area is clean. We got a lower price. Our two families ended up paying $24 each for our families of four. That included the entrance fee, shoe rentals, a pitcher of soda, a box of pizza, and two bowling games.

Road Trippin Summer 2019


This was our first time to get out as a family together with our mama here in the US. I think it’s the best trip we’ve had since we were children!


Our Stops
  • Fairfax, Virginia
  • Washington, DC
  • Chesapeake, Virginia
  • Virginia Beach
  • Mount Vernon, Virginia
  • Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania

As you noticed, we did 4-hour rides in between destinations — Rochester, New York- Tobyhanna Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania- Washington, DC, Washington DC- Chesapeake, Virginia and vice versa. It was a fun and relaxing trip for the kids. I learned it makes a big difference in traveling as a family if the kids enjoy the trip. There’s a lot of benefit in doing this kind of trip. We had a relaxing journey and also experienced a lot of places. It was a win-win trip for everyone in the family.









  1. Reply


    August 26, 2019

    So cool about your daughter’s performance – hope she keeps her passion going. Good luck to her!
    I’ve always wanted to visit DC but the last time I had a chance a few years ago, the Pope was visitng and there were all sorts of restrictions so I missed out! Need to go back soon.

    • Reply


      August 26, 2019

      Yes, I love DC. I can imagine the traffic and all the restrictions when there’s a big gathering going on. I hope you can plan a visit soon. I never get tired of visiting Washington, D.C.

  2. Reply


    August 26, 2019

    Oh so nice you got to do this with the family. And how cool about your daughter perform in DC! I would love to go to Virginia beach one day.

    • Reply


      August 26, 2019

      Yes, I love it there we definitely visit again.

  3. Reply

    Mindy Silva

    August 26, 2019

    I love how instead of doing nothing, you opted for an alternative that was affordable. Something I should consider when traveling with my family too.

    • Reply


      August 26, 2019

      Yes, we are trying our best to travel based on what we can afford. No matter what we will spend money on traveling but at least minimizing it a little helps in our budget.

  4. Reply

    Carol Colborn

    August 26, 2019

    Congratulations on your daughter’s performance at Kennedy Center. I did the same itineray in 2012. My only suggestion? Make your photos compressed but bigger in size!

    • Reply


      August 26, 2019

      Thank you for the suggestion. We will look into it. Yes, it’s a great itinerary.

  5. Reply

    Aditi Sharma

    August 27, 2019

    What an incredible experience for you all to watch your daughter perform at the Kennedy Center. You surely made the trip a memorable one for the family by including visiting all these destinations along the way. Lovely post and great itinerary.

    • Reply


      August 27, 2019

      Thank you, Aditi. I’m glad you agree with me with the itinerary.

  6. Reply

    Desiree C

    August 27, 2019

    It makes me so happy to hear about road trips you’re taking with your family! These are memories your kids will never forget!

    • Reply


      August 27, 2019

      So true! And my son keeps telling me how happy he is with this road trips.

  7. Reply


    August 27, 2019

    What a fun trip, looks like you guys had a great time. And how amazing to see your daughter perform!

    • Reply


      August 27, 2019

      Yes, we had an amazing time. Thank you.

  8. Reply

    Josy A

    August 27, 2019

    What a great excuse for a road trip! I love that grandma got to join you all as well. You managed to make this into an epic adventure, with beaches, the zoo, bowling and tasty food. Your kids must have loved it.

    • Reply


      August 27, 2019

      Hahaha, yes, it’s a road trip they’re looking forward to doing this year. The kids waited for it for six months, and I’m glad it turned out great.

  9. Reply


    August 27, 2019

    It looks like you had a great time! I used to live in that area, and I remember Virginia Beach fondly!

    • Reply


      August 27, 2019

      Yay, lucky Brianna, me and my daughter would love to be nearby Virginia Beach or North Carolina 🙂

  10. Reply

    Mirela | The Travel Bunny

    August 27, 2019

    I am not from the US so I can’t really appreciate the distance you covered without a map. It seems like a cool trip, though 🙂

    • Reply


      August 27, 2019

      Thank you Mirela I will include a map for you. Next road trip I made sure to have one too. Helpful hints.

  11. Reply


    August 28, 2019

    Sounds like you covered a lot of ground – and had a lot of fun – on this trip! I had to laugh at your comment about breakfast at Waffle House…that’s been my experience with it as well! Cheap, decent, but definitely not gourmet (and not good for the waistline)!

    • Reply


      August 28, 2019

      Hahaha, I’m glad someone agreed with me here that it’s not really a place to always come back. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Reply


    August 28, 2019

    Great family time together with kids meeting their cousins. Your daughter is a talented girl, all the best for her future endeavors.

    • Reply


      August 29, 2019

      Thank you and yes it was a great time meeting with their cousins.

  13. Reply


    September 2, 2019

    I was waiting on this post as I was following your trip. You and your family had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing, now I have to add some destinations to our bucket list.
    Great post!

    • Reply


      September 3, 2019

      Hello Marianna, I am glad to know your following our journey it made me happy to hear that. After this NYC trip, I need to check more on your blog post as I am looking for tips on our road trip next year. Thanks for stopping by.


April Key Rode
New York, USA

April Key Rode is a Bachelor graduate of Hospitality and Tourism Management. One of the researchers in Tabuelan "As An Eco-Tourism Destination." She loves to do research, writing, cross-stitching and dancing. Her favorite sports are badminton, biking, soccer, basketball, and bowling. She is a mother of two, and she loves traveling with her own family and friends.