Washington D.C is an awesome city with great night life, shopping, and tons of free stuff to do.
I took a trip during President’s Day Weekend which left me with three full vacation days in a new city. I had been once before when I was in middle school, but had no idea what to expect as an adult. I loved D.C. and can’t imagine anyone not enjoying the city.
Tips on flying into the right area:
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is the closest and is very small and easy to get out of (three miles south of downtown Washington D.C.) It has great views of the monuments during landing and takeoff. Washington Dulles International Airport is about a 35 minute drive to Washington D.C. but oftentimes you can get more flights and cheaper rates. I flew into Washington Dulles and flew out of Ronald Reagan because I was able to get a better deal that way. Main takeaway: either is fine just make sure you are prepared to pay for an uber if you fly into Washington Dulles. As a last case resort you can always do Baltimore/Washington International Airport (aka Thurgood Marshall Airport) but it’s about a 45 minute drive to Washington D.C.
Where to stay in D.C.:
If you plan on walking around a lot you will want to stay in a central location so I would recommend staying somewhere by the White House. For Instance:
- The W Hotel
- The JW Marriott (where we stayed)
- The Willard – 5 star, historic, and upscale
All these hotels are within a few blocks of the Washington Monument which is essentially the center of Washington D.C. To the east and the west there are a plethora of monuments, federal buildings, and museums that you can tour. Depending on when you go, these hotels may be pricey so just stay in that general area and you will be fine.
Here are a few must-see historical sites I was able to visit (*meaning they are free to enter):
- The Capital*
- The Supreme Court*
- The Library of Congress*
- Lincoln Memorial*
- The Washington Monument*
- Arlington Cemetery* – free if you don’t want to take the shuttle tour which I highly recommend paying for. It’s very affordable (about $13 a person). Tour the Arlington House (Robert E. Lee’s home) and ask for a private tour if possible. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip because of all the history that you can almost touch. One of the tour guides took us to the attic and showed us graffiti from 1878. This is a must do!
- Jefferson Memorial*
- Lincoln Memorial* – iconic doesn’t even begin to describe the Lincoln Memorial. Go during the day and at night to get two totally different perspectives. Be sure to check out halfway up the steps, right in the center. In that section is an engraving where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech.
- The National Archives* – where the original Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and U.S. Constitution are on display.
- Holocaust Museum* – you cannot leave D.C. without visiting this museum. The creators did such an amazing job of breaking your heart and telling such a devastating story, but also uplifting you at the end and showing how love and friendship can conquer anything.
Here are a few things I missed that I want to do next time I visit:
- Tour the White House – it was not available when I was there but you can pay to tour the White House. I am really bummed it wasn’t available because this is one of my bucket list items.
- The National Air & Space Museum
- The National Gallery of Art
- The Newseum – if you don’t go in (due to the price – about $25 a person) definitely go outside the Museum. It lists the front page of tons of newspapers from around the United States. It was fascinating because it gave you a really interesting perspective of what different states and cities found to be relevant and significant front page articles.
- The W – you must go! You can see the White House from the rooftop bar and the vibe is awesome, drinks are unique, and the cheese board is legendary.
- Curry and Pie – un.bel.eiv.able! Fantastic Indian food and a really nice intimate vibe. A great date spot!
- Filomena – I couldn’t make it to this place but heard it has great Italian food.
- The Rye Bar – this place has really good drinks and a nice ambiance
- Georgetown Cupcake – the line was about thirty people long so I passed. The cupcakes looked incredible though so definitely check them out if the line isn’t too long!
Georgetown – the only place I had time to shop – but ADORABLE. Such a wonderful place to stroll and shop. A few of my faves:
- All Saints
- Free People
- Lucky Brand
- Rag & Bone
- Rent the Runway
- The Phoenix
Overall, I loved D.C. because there was so much to do during the day that didn’t cost anything. I brushed up on American history, ate incredible food, and have a ton of great memories. Washington D.C. is one of those places that makes you feel patriotic. The history of our culture is all there in plain site, and I left wanting to see and know more. If you do end up going to D.C., I hope you have a wonderful experience and that some of this might help you. Note: all photos taken by @righteyeimagery.