A lot of people struggle between working full time jobs [with limited vacation days], and fulfilling their dream of traveling the world.
Now whether or not you consider Washington DC to be at the top of your travel bucket list, it certainly should be!
You finally made your way to DC! Now what??
First, Decide on a game plan, or at least a check list of all the places you want to check out. If you’re in the area Friday night until Sunday night, I suggest a variation of the following:
1- Hit up National Harbor for dinner and a stroll by the Ferris wheel. Between restaurants and shops, you’ll have a bunch of statues to stop and pose for a picture with! From Marilyn Monroe to Sometimes they show movies out doors.
Bonus! Stop by next door at MGM for the tables and slots.
Congratulations! You’ve just checked off Maryland!!
2. Old Town Alexandria. Alexandria has a ton of restaurants to try! You can basically find any cuisine you can think of, all within a walking distance and a cute town scenery. Whenever I’m in Old Town, I make it a point to stop by Tea and stock up on my favorite teas, spices and sugars!
Fun facts: You can see Maryland, MGM & the Ferris Wheel in National Harbor from the pier. ·· In the winter, the town is decorated with a ton of Christmas touches. A quick stop in Old Town gets me right in the holiday spirit!
3. Arlington is one of the more known cities of Virginia, mostly due to Arlington Cemetery. You should definitely plan a stop at Arlington National Cemetery. At least for an hour. Time it for the changing of the guard, which is every hour on the hour. It even has it’s own train stop AND it’s free (unless you opt for the hop on, hop off trolley). So really there’s no excuse. Bonus – Arlington National Cemetery is right next to the Iwo Jima Memorial. If you plan ahead through your state congress or senate members, you might be lucky enough to score tickets for a Pentagon tour! If you aren’t lucky enough, that’s okay too! You can drive by the Pentagon or maybe grab a drink at the SkyDome Restaurant in the Double Tree Hotel.
Aside from the cemetery, there’s Port City Brewery if you would like to taste some local brews. Clarendon, is an area with an array of restaurants that turn into decent places to check out for nightlife.
Food: Cava Mezze
4. National Mall. Let’s be real, this is what people think of when they think DC. And that’s totally okay. You can even basically spend the entire day here! When I think of National Mall, I think of all the monuments and museums. In the warmer months, you can have a picnic on the lawn around the Washington Monument. Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Library of Congress, Vietnam Memorial and the US Capitol are all part of the National Mall.
I lean towards seeing the monuments surrounding the reflection pool at -sunset-
The Washington Monument has a row of food trucks usually, which are a great stop for a quick bite or snack on the grass. Maybe check out the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring!
The Capitol around midday. *While you’re there, check out the Capitol Cafe. Their dessert bar is to die for! Their chicken noodle soup is pretty good too [& no, soup is NOT only for when you’re sick]. While you’re in the Capitol, take a free guided tour. You can only see the Rotunda when on a tour. After your tour take the tunnel over to the Library of Congress. Fun Fact: You can get an official Library of Congress library card for all your researching needs.
Disclaimer: I’m not a big museum person, so this post won’t go into any details. I will say though, they’re especially good stops when the weather is not ideal like a cold winter, rainy spring, windy fall or a hot summer day! I’ve added a list of museums to start below.
5. Foggy Bottom is where George Washington University is. Along with a few prominent buildings your personal adventure may take you to. However, the White House is within walking distance and worth the journey down Pennsylvania Ave. I usually take visiting friends and family to Founding Farmers for brunch, and then we walk over to the White House.
Last time we went, we picked up scooters along the way and rode down for some quick picks in front of the White House. Scooters are always a fun twist to getting around, but it’s a lot harder than you would think to find an available and charged scooter to rent. If you like Pie, stop by he Pie Man of D.C’s table just outside the Foggy Bottom Metro Station. He has a variety of pies and will let you sample them, but even if you don’t love pies, he’s a great salesman and worth a few minutes of your time.
6. Georgetown. Just a short skip away from Foggy Bottom, is Georgetown. Home of Georgetown University, but more importantly Georgetown Cupcakes! Also, a hot spot for an array of restaurant options is the Georgetown Waterfront. If you’re a movie buff, The Exorcist steps are nestled right where M Street becomes Canal Road, next to a gas station. There’s even a Piano Bar with dueling piano’s and drink specials named after pianists. Fun Fact: In the warmer months, paddle down the Potomac River!
7. Chinatown. It’s known for a ton of Asian Restaurants, but I haven’t had the chance to try any of them. But the Arch is pretty nice to see, especially at night. Chinatown is also the home of Capital One Arena! So if you have a chance, check out the event schedule and buy a ticket! Right in the same building is Clyde’s and Lucky Strike, along with a few more options in Gallery Place. Across the street from Clyde’s is: Rocket Bar. Which is a divebar where the smell of popcorn hits you as soon as you walk in.
8. Adams Morgan. I am extremely biased to one place in particular that I stumbled across a few years ago when visiting DC, before I moved here. That place is: Amsterdam Falafel. and it is THE. BEST. FALAFEL. SHOP! They literally only offer falafels and frites, so you can be sure they’re method is perfected. Plus, you add your own toppings as you’d like! They also have a location on 14th street, but Adams Morgan is my absolute favorite.
After you’ve enjoyed a Falafel and maybe some fries, I would suggest walking around. While there are things to do around this cute neighborhood, it’s more of a night scene in my opinion. A nice amount of bars, including a rooftop bar: Roofers Union, and plenty of quick late night bites.
9. Dupont Circle. During the day a good stop for Embassies and a few lesser known tourist spots. And at night, a street full of dance spots, that offer food during the day and happy hour at night on week nights.
Suggestion: Latin dancing at Cafe Citron. Downside, it can get pretty crowded as the night goes on.
10. 14th and U- Street is one of my go to for a good brunch in DC, along with night life. However, it offers just as good dinner and dessert options as well. Some of my picks are:
Dinner: DC Noodles
Drinks & Dessert: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (Same one as in my Charleston trip!), Dacha Beer Garden (a few blocks away, but within walking distance, or a short Uber ride). Along with majority of the places you stumble across. I highly recommend this area for a good night out. You really can’t go wrong with going here and just bar hopping. Bonus Suggestions: Cloak & Dagger, Marvin’s, Provision No. 14
Extra: Museums. DC is FULL of them, and they’re free for the most part! You can go a museum, maybe even two or three per day and still not get to see them all during a 10 day visit! Trust me, my cousin planned ahead of his 10 day visit for me, and still has a list for next time! Here’s a short list of museums in the area you might want to consider for your next trip!
Here are a few of the popular museums to start:
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History
- Smithsonian Institution
- Ford’s Theatre
- National Gallery of Art
- Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Enjoy your time in the DMV!