|Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
|Martin Luther King Memorial
|Korean War Memorial
|Vietnam War Memorial
|World War II Memorial
|Natural History Museum
|National Air and Space Museum
|U.S. Capitol Building
|Old Post Office Building
|National Library of Congress – Thomas Jefferson Building
|U.S. Supreme Court
The temperature was just right; the humidity was unnoticeable. It was endearing to be walking along observing even as a tourist. I stopped to catch a ball that had rolled out of bounds from a nearby game and casually threw it back to a player running after it. Even though I was simply a visitor to the city, an outsider by all other standards, the atmosphere was comforting. It didn’t feel as if people were divided by what city, state, or region they came from, but rather were collectively citizens of one place; the United States. There are very few places where you immediately feel like you belong. Washington D.C. happens to be one of them.
Food, food, and more great food! Places to try:
- Rice (Thai Food) – 1608 14th St. NW Washington, DC 20009
- Old Ebbitts Grill (Historic oyster bar and grill located right next to the White House – American Fare)– 675 15th Street NW Washington DC 20005
- Ristorante Piccolo (Italian Food – actually located in the Georgetown area) – 1068 31st Street, NW Washington DC 20007
- Le Pain Quotidien(Excellent French Bakery) – 979 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20004
- Although I ran out of time, I also heard great things about the restaurant Founding Farmers (American) – 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
- There are a ton of great hotels to choose from but we stayed at the historic and boutique Hotel Lombardy(Nice location between Georgetown and downtown D.C. and clean, comfortable accommodations) – 2019 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20006
How to Get Around:
- Walk the city! It’s the best way to see everything, and there is really no need for a car. No one wants to spend valuable time looking for a parking space. But if walking longer distances is not an option, the Metro is a good alternative. It’s about $3 per trip. D.C. also has a bike share program where you can rent a bike for an hour or more and drop it off at one of the many locations around the city.
Top Ten Things to Do/See in D.C. (In no particular order) –
- Grab a map from a National Park Service kiosk. NPS provides a great park map to view the lay out of all the monuments and various Smithsonian Museums around the city. (There are a few kiosks located around the National Mall.)
- If new to the city, take a Big Bus Tour or trolley ride. Obviously this is a tourist thing, but it’s a convenient way to get around especially if you want to go to some of the outlying areas if you don’t have a car. You can hop on and off the bus or trolley anytime throughout the day. Also the best time to view the monuments is at night. It’s always great to have someone drive you around if you’re not sure how to get to where you want to go!
- Walk around the entire White House. Arguably the best view is from Pennsylvania Ave. Unfortunately, the White House is not currently offering tours.
- Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Make sure to reach out to your representative and/or senator ahead of time to get access to the legislative wings. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you can still schedule a tour. But if you just sign up through the main visitor’s center for a general tour while you are there, you will only gain access to the rotunda and the hall of statutes. The short film that is shown at the beginning of the tour is worthwhile though.
- Explore all the Historic Buildings! Take self-guided or volunteer led tours of the U.S. Supreme Court Building and the National Library of Congress. If you want to actually enter the Library, you will need to present a photo ID in person at the Madison Building to get a registration card. Also walk through the National Archives Building to view the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Old Postal Building is an interesting place too, and you can go up in the tower. Since the Washington Monument is currently closed, the word on the street is the view from the tower is the best view of the city.
- Visit as many museums as you can. How often do you get free access to amazing exhibits? A lot of the museums in D.C. are free. Everybody loves free stuff! Some of my favorite Smithsonian Museums are: The American History Museum, American Art Museum, Natural History Museum (there’s a fantastic wildlife and landscape photography exhibit) and the Air and Space Museum. Although I ran out of time, the National Zoo is supposed to be great and the Postal Museum sounds intriguing too. The National Art Gallery is not a Smithsonian Museum but it’s a great one to go to as well. If you enjoy photography, also consider taking a tour of the National Geographic Museum at the National Geographic Headquarters. There is a free photography exhibit of lions, tigers and bears that the public can walk through or pay an entrance fee to learn about the history of National Geographic and walk through a pirate exhibit.
- Walk around the Tidal Basin (It’s not a far as it looks!) and visit all the monuments. Make sure to take time to read the messages. Each one is very telling of different eras in the history of the United States. Some of my favorite monuments: The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
- Go to the National Press Club and/or explore the Newseum. Although a private club for journalists, the National Press Club welcomes the public to eat at one of its two restaurants, the Fourth Estate. The Newseum is a museum about the history of news.
- Walk the National Mall at sunset. Stop to enjoy the city and rest on a park bench.
- Walk over to Georgetown, down Embassy Row and/or to the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Grab dinner, a drink or whatever you please along one of the popular streets or at the waterfront.