Abdul Muqeet Waheed
Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, is tucked away on the East Coast of the US, making it the ideal place to start a trip there. In addition, it is home to a number of the city’s top attractions, which are spread all over the place.
Actually, Washington, D.C., has so many wonderful landmarks and fascinating history that you shouldn’t miss it. Yummy food, historic national structures, and the President of the United States residence. You might easily explore it over the course of a long weekend or longer.
I frequently travel to Washington, DC. I even spent a year staying here. Although many people are familiar with Washington, DC’s highlights—such as seeing the White House, going to the Smithsonian, and walking along the National Mall, for example—there is a lot more to the country’s capital than may initially be apparent. It’s a tragedy that so many individuals ignore some of the city’s greatest attractions!
Spending a vacation in Washington, DC is a superb travel idea, regardless of the fact that politics frequently causes a lot of noise in the nation’s capital because there are so many wonderful spots to visit and explore there!
The leading tourist sites in Washington, DC, are highlighted in this guide. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with the place after visiting the locations on this list!
When traveling to a city for the very first time, won’t you want to see some of the most popular, well-known sights? That is precisely the reason I decided to list several of the main sites in Washington, D.C., which you must explore on any visit.
See which of Washington, D.C.’s top attractions are listed here.
My Travelling To Washington DC
Government buildings and eighth-grade field trips are the two things that most people and I also associate with Washington, D.C. Well, those are the two reasons I considered while deciding to travel to the nation’s capital in search of a new career. Since I spent most of my time in the adjacent state of Virginia, my perception of Washington, DC consisted only of museums, monuments, and elderly men entering government buildings quickly.
After staying here for more than a year, I no longer hold that opinion. I discovered that the city of Washington, DC, is bustling with nightlife, street festivals, bizarre psychedelic art displays, and more. Young professionals who are hardworking, enthusiastic, and motivated are practically in abundance there.
Fascinated? You ought to be.
Before we get into the details, let me share with you an interesting fact: unless they’re talking to visitors, of course, DC residents almost never refer to their city as “Washington.” Always DC. Yes, the District. Washington, tho? We really aren’t into that type of stuff around here; it sounds a little like stiff jackets and white wigs. I swear.
This guide will teach you how to get around the city like a resident, much more like our short “Washington” vs. “DC” instruction. In Washington, DC, there is a tonne of exciting things to do that are completely undiscovered by tourists. But don’t worry, everything will become clear. Just make careful to protect our secrets!
Best Time to Visit Washington DC
On any day of the year, you may see visitors strolling around Washington, D.C. Although it may sound surprising, the summers in Washington, DC, are nearly as hot and muggy as those in Houston (and yeah, I’ve made it through summers in both places). Snow doesn’t actually stick in the winter; instead, it merely turns into a chilly, slushy mess, and the city literally becomes grey every day. It’s better to explore Washington, DC between March and early June OR between September and November because the summer heat is miserable and the winter is gloomy and gross.
If you want to travel to DC in the spring, you may plan your tour to meet with the city’s renowned Cherry Blossom Festival, which normally occurs in March or April. During the few weeks of the peak flowering season, the city turns soft pink and white, and in my opinion, it is the most attractive time to visit.
How to Get to the Washington DC?
The great news Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), and Dulles International Airport are the 3 airports in Washington, DC (IAD). This simply implies you’ll be able to locate flights from every significant region of the United States at any hour of the day.
Is it awful news? Two of the airports are quite remote from the city. Therefore, it is recommended to fly into DCA if you are just in town for a short period of time, because it is only a 20-minute metro ride or a 15-minute drive from the city center.
You may catch a train or a bus into Union Station whether you’re arriving from a nearby city and then use the metro from there to go to the city center. Most significant bus companies (Greyhound, Megabus, etc.) and Amtrak trains provide services at Union Station.
How to Get Around Washington DC?
Since you will be strolling a lot in Washington, DC, get ready to break out your walking shoes. There’s no need for a rental vehicle because the city’s top sites are VERY walking, especially if you stay downtown (more on this later), and if you come in the spring or fall, you’ll want to take advantage of the wonderful weather.
The quickest, best affordable, and most dependable method to travel across Washington, DC is by public transit, aside from walking. Although the DC metro system may use some improvement, it is still a stable and well-liked method of getting around the city. There are six main metro lines, and each station has a map showing its locations. To locate the best public transit routes to your location, I’d personally just utilize Google Maps.
Washington, DC, on the other hand, has a range of bike-share options. The most well-known one is Capital Bikeshare, and it has locations throughout the city from which you can borrow and return bikes. The cost of bicycles is $8 per day or $17 for three days. However, be cautioned that some DC drivers are outright sociopaths, so heed all traffic regulations, stoplights, and bike lanes.
What is a Fare to travel in Washington DC?
DC isn’t cheap, much like any other big city in the US. Hostels are hard to find, and there are hardly any accommodations for less than $100 a night.
I suggest setting up $200 to $300 a day if you’re traveling alone, sleeping in a hotel, and dining out for every meal. It will cost between $125 and $200 a day for a group of two or more. Finding someone to stay within the city or preparing your own meals 1-2 times a day might significantly reduce your expenses. The cost of transportation and entertainment in Washington, DC, is not too high.
Places to visit in Washington
1. Go Inside The White House
Without going to the White House, a journey to the country’s capital still wouldn’t feel complete. The White House, with its renowned location of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, serves as the president of the United States principal residence and place of business.
The most renowned mansion in the world is visible from the property’s gates, but going inside is a bit more difficult. Security is quite strict here just for obvious reasons! You must make a tour request through your Member of Congress if you wish to be allowed to visit and see the White House in actuality.
Not an American? It’s no trouble! For assistance in submitting a tour request, just get in touch with your country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. Every request should be made now far in advance. You cannot simply show up and expect to get admitted.
2. Visit the Museum in the Morning
The museums may seem like a no-brainer and entirely unrecommended option for Washington, DC. But if I’m being really honest, Washington, DC, has some of the top museums in the world, so I wouldn’t be right to advise you against going. But you should definitely also stay away from very crowded museums.
I advise picking 1-3 museums you wish to visit and going when they open in the morning at ten o’clock promptly in order to avoid the numerous school groups and crowds of tourists. In this way, you’ll beat the throng inside the museum and have a head start in the security lines (yep, every museum has a security system similar to that of the TSA). Weekends often have fewer people in them than weekdays and holidays.
The museums you choose to visit in DC will depend on your schedule and interests because there are probably hundreds of them.
The city is home to 19 museums run by the renowned Smithsonian Institution, in addition to other very amazing ones, including:
- The International Spy Museum – It is a place where you can learn about actual spying techniques and genuine spies like Harriet Tubman, the Rosenbergs (Soviet spies who gave the Russians access to US nuclear secrets), and James Bond. This museum is quite interactive as well; you can try your hand at decoding codes, get your own hidden identity, and discover things like the ideal spot to conceal a transmitter (spoiler alert: the heel of your shoe) and how to turn a lipstick into a gun.
- The Holocaust Museum – It is a sad memorial to Holocaust victims that includes a thorough historical explanation of Nazism and the tragic events that took place during the Holocaust. It’s a really difficult but significant period of history, and I think the museum does a fantastic job of depicting it and teaching visitors. I’ve never been through this museum without sobbing.
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) – The city’s latest Smithsonian museum features an eye-opening biography of African Americans in the United States, including a journey thru the era of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and contemporary movements and pop culture. In the museum, entry is free, but advance ticket purchase is necessary. If you want to understand why we’re STILL in shock about the history of African Americans in the USA, you should truly delve into that history.
3. Awe-Inspiring Monuments AT NIGHT
If this is your first visit to Washington, DC, you must explore some of the city’s numerous famous monuments.
But if you’re anything like me, you probably don’t want to view these structures while jammed up against countless other sweaty visitors, selfie sticks, and school tours. So, rather than visiting these places during the day, when the crowds are at their thickest, I advise traveling to them in the evening hours and well into the night.
After hours, the monuments all are illuminated, creating some amazing photo opportunities and magnificent views. You won’t have to go through a lot of crowds either!
If you’d prefer to have a guide who can teach you important historical information about the specific monuments and memorials, certain tour firms also provide tours of DC at night.
Here are my recommendations for Washington, DC’s top landmarks to see:
- The Lincoln Memorial – It is a stunning, columned monument honoring Abraham Lincoln that was built in 1915. The WWII Memorial and the Washington Monument are visible from their location at the edge of a huge reflecting pool.
- The Jefferson Memorial – It is housed in a famous dome that is sand-colored and is set on the edge of Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin. The monument is surrounded by cherry blossoms in the spring, which makes it very attractive.
- The Capitol – It is the structure where the US Congress holds its meetings and other occasions for tourists to Washington, DC. All year long, the Capitol Building offers free tours and unique displays.
- The Washington Monument – Which is set just at the border of such grassy National Mall, is Washington, DC’s most recognizable pointy-tipped landmark. The Washington Monument’s lifts, which once allowed tourists to ascend to the top, are temporarily closed until 2019 due to renovations.
- The WWII Memorial – It pays respect to all those who served and lost their lives in the war. The memorial is situated throughout the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial and is a lovely tribute to all who worked to defend our nation.
- The National Mall – It is grassland and it serves as Washington, DC’s backyard, where citizens and tourists relax in daylight hours. The National Mall is the hub on a few occasions within the city and is house to many leading galleries.
4. Visit the Library of Congress
A trip towards the Library of Congress is another touristic activity that I’d definitely suggest as a local in addition to the monuments and museums. It’s a very distinctive and magnificent site that, however, many travelers to DC ignore. In fact, many individuals aren’t even aware that it exists or is accessible to the general public!
You can get your own library card here, take a walking trip of the old Thomas Jefferson Building, which is truly gorgeous and charming, and check out a few of the changing exhibitions, including a pretty entertaining one called Baseball Americana for all of you baseball fanatics out there.
On specific dates, visitors can explore the library’s huge variety of musical objects at the Whittall Pavilion. The library also hosts a wide range of weekly public gatherings, such as talks on notable authors, musical performances, and current affairs.
The Library of Congress Reading Rooms, where you may simply just sit and enjoy while reading a book or spending some time observing people in one of the nicest buildings in history, is in my opinion one of the library’s coolest features. Plus, admission is free, so you can save your money for some of the other things down below!
5. In Meridian Hill Park, Discover Your Inside Hippie
If you find yourself in Washington, DC, on a Sunday, stop by Meridian Hill Park and take a look around for a while. Meridian Hill Park provides a little bit of a unique feel than the suit-clad, high-profile individuals you’ll see wandering stony-faced thru the sidewalks on Monday mornings.
On bright Sundays, you could see folks here singing, hula hooping, picnicking, performing yoga, and relaxing outside with friends. You never know what you’re going to receive, to quote Forrest Gump.
The drum circle at Meridian Hill Park, which takes place on Sundays at 3 PM throughout the warmer months of the year, may be its most distinctive feature. Strangers and friends from all across the city assemble together and simply beat on drums at a steady rhythm. Is it truly bizarre? Absolutely. However, it’s a DC-specific event, and it’s fairly wonderful to witness (or participate in).
6. At Farmer’s Markets, Test all the Freebies
Street markets spring up all throughout the city during the warmer seasons so that nearby farmer may sell their products and wares. You may get an early-morning coffee at these markets, enjoy live street music there, or just walk around and look at the many vendors’ offerings.
The biggest and most popular farmers markets in DC are located at Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights during the spring, summer, and fall. There are also other smaller weekend markets that appear at random across the city’s different neighborhoods.
You can purchase most of my favorite pasta in DC from Cucina Al Volo or taste some wonderful kombucha from Hex Ferments at the Dupont Circle farmer’s market, which begins every Sunday morning. You can also test the empanadas from Chris’ Marketplace and consume a popsicle from Maracas Ice Pops.
Also, you may have a cup of coffee at Qualia Coffee, Sri Lankan delicacies at Short Eats, or a wonderful taco at El Sabor del Taco in Columbia Heights, which takes place every Wednesday and Saturday.
Additionally, there are free samples of excellent fruits, veggies, baked products, and other items available everywhere at every market. What could be superior then free samples? The answer to that rhetorical question is NOTHING.
7. Visit Eclectic Galleries Of ART
When most people visit Washington, DC, they rarely consider art or creative pursuits, although these fields are thriving in our city. To locate artwork by local artists, though, you might need to explore some unexpected areas besides the National Mall’s primary art institutions.
While most art galleries worldwide are built in opulent structures with large windows, DC has converted some odd buildings for artistic use.
- The art studio and gallery Blind Whino are housed in a dilapidated, psychedelic-colored church.
- In a former industrial area underneath the city, there is an underground art and entertainment venue called Dupont Underground.
- Artechouse is a facility for art and technology that frequently has vibrant, interactive displays, despite not being in a particularly odd location.
Grab a chai latte from Compass Coffee, my favorite in the city, if you’re in the mood for bizarre, vibrant, or simply odd artwork. for an eye-opening adventure, visit any one of these galleries.
8. GO OUTSIDE
When visiting a metropolis, you might not consider going outside, but there are surprisingly many parks, trails, and outdoor leisure sites in Washington, DC. My favorite parks in the city to run, jog, or relax while reading a book in the evenings are Rock Creek Park, the National Arboretum, and the Tidal Basin.
Additionally, there are numerous day journeys accessible from Washington, DC to visit the surrounding areas if you’re wanting to see even more natural beauty. Great Falls, a huge waterfall region on the Potomac River only 30 minutes outside of the city, is my favorite day travel from Washington, D.C.
There are a variety of hiking paths nearby, from flat and simple to difficult uphills and rock tumbles.
You may also attempt one of the numerous nearby hikes in Maryland or Northern Virginia if you have a car (or want to rent one).
Put on your shoes, choose a park, and take in the breathtaking scenery that exists both inside and beyond the city.
9. Sip at speakeasies and pop-up bars.
You should be ready for a nice drink after all that wandering all around the city, right? You’re in luck since the bar scene in DC is very amazing. In addition to the sheer number of bars in the city (there’s usually more than one on each block), there are a few that are really distinctive.
Do you enjoy theme gatherings? Yes, the sort where you dress up like a tin foil-wrapped burrito or a ketchup bottle. The pop-up bars in DC might be compared to theme parties held at clubs. Depending on when you attend, the most well-known one is on 7th street and has varying themes all year long.
Halloween, Christmas, and cherry blossom-themed pubs are a few examples of regular themes, but Game of Thrones was the most well-liked one-off theme.
DC also contains a tonne of speakeasies, which are obscure, unassuming bars. Yes, like during Prohibition. No, you won’t find flapper outfits and illegal liquor here, but you will find unique hidden cocktail bars made with a curious mind in mind. If you can even locate them in the first place.
I won’t say much more than that, but The Gibson is my preferred go-to speakeasy. I advise making a reservation there. You’ll just have to go there and locate it yourself.
10. Go Out to HAPPY HOUR
There is an unwritten cultural tradition known as “DC Happy Hour.” The most often question asked by friends in the city is probably “Do you want to go to happy hour?” Locals leave their offices when the day’s work is done and swarm to the pubs and restaurants in the area to catch up with friends and unwind after a long day at the workplace. You may truly get a sense of local life in Washington, DC, by attending one.
What precisely is happy hour then? For a few hours each day, eateries of all types—from dive bars to fine dining establishments—offer reduced beverages, snacks, and occasionally even entire meals. On weekday afternoons, the majority of happy hours begin and stay until 6 or 7 PM. Prices then return to normal.
Contrary to many other cities, where happy hours are either outlawed (cough, Boston, cough) or just unheard of, DC offers them everywhere. And by 6 o’clock in the evening, beer gardens, dive pubs, and upscale cocktail lounges will seem like they are home to half the city’s inhabitants.
Boqueria, Vinoteca, and Commissary are three of my favorite neighborhood hangouts where I like to get out with friends for happy hour. However, the city is full of incredible happy hour finds, so in true local style, I’d advise just heading into any place and asking about their happy hour.