Washington, D.C. is the closest major city to where I live in Northern Virginia. Having lived just outside D.C. for the last 16 years, I have accumulated some advice on what to do if you ever come for a visit. From exploring the monuments to great shopping and dining in Georgetown, there is so much to see and do in this beautiful and powerful city. Here is a guide for a few things to check out in the D.C. area!
Rent a bike and explore the monuments.
Washington, D.C. is full of beautiful monuments. The best way to explore them is to rent a bike at one of these Capital Bikeshare locations. A few of my favorite monuments are listed below. The Jefferson is especially pretty when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
- The Jefferson Memorial
- Vietnam Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- Franklin Delanor Roosevelt Memorial
- Washington Monument
- MLK Memorial
Book a tour to visit the Capitol and/or the White House.
I haven’t been inside the White House in years, the last time I went I was a little girl. But this is definitely something to put on your list if you are visiting D.C. for the first time — especially with the big election having just passed. Make sure to write your representative in Congress in order to book a tour- that is the only way you can get into the White House these days. You can also book a ticket to tour the U.S. Capitol Building. They do allow you to walk in for free to visit the Exhibition Hall, but a ticket is required for a full tour. It’s absolutely beautiful inside!
Visit the Smithsonian Castle + many museums.
Washington D.C. is world famous for its many museums, many of which are absolutely free to the public. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Newseum
- Museum of American History
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Air and Space Museum
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- National Gallery of Art
- Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (They play jazz music in the evenings during the summer!)
Visit Georgetown for the best shopping and dining.
Georgetown is a section of D.C. that borders the Virginia city of Arlington. This is where you will find most of the restaurants and shopping, since much of D.C. is comprised of monuments, museums, and government buildings. Here are a few recommendations for what to do in Georgetown:
- Walk down to the waterfront to admire the Potomac River, have a coffee or eat a meal. They have several restaurants and outdoor bars right by the water.
- Orange Anchor is an adorable new seafood restaurant on the waterfront.
- Farmers, Fishers and Bakers is an organic American restaurant that has indoor and outdoor seating. They have great food and are located on the waterfront too.
- Bodega is a Spanish tapas restaurant. They have great lunch specials and a patio with outdoor seating in the back.
- Dean and Deluca is an upscale grocery market where people can pick and choose what they want to eat and sit outside. They also have a Pinkberry right next door if you’re in the mood for delicious frozen yogurt.
- For a great cupcake, check out Baked and Wired. Georgetown is also home to the TLC show, Georgetown Cupcake, though it is usually a very long line to get in.
- There are plenty of shops to browse through…so take your time to wander around. M Street is the main street that runs through Georgetown. Be sure to check out some of the funky side streets off of M Street. There are many beautiful, old brownstones to admire and cobblestone streets with character.
- You might also enjoy The Old Stone House for a bit of history. They have a pretty garden open to the public in the back of the house. This is conveniently located in the heart of Georgetown right on M Street:
Here is a Georgetown guide with more ideas for what to do! http://www.georgetowndc.com/
There is so much to do while in D.C., so here are some extra ideas if you are planning a longer stay:
- See a performance at the Kennedy Center
- Visit Eastern Market on the weekend for craft items and food
- Eat Chinese food in Chinatown
- See the Nationals play a baseball game in the spring/summer or the Washington Caps play a hockey game in the winter/spring
- Relax on the mall (which is a park that extends from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capital), pack a picnic, and throw a ball around
- Check out the eclectic bar scene in Adams Morgan
- Take a river cruise down the Potomac or rent a kayak