I’ve been to the US once, but I was only 6 years old! What’s more, I didn’t even go to Washington!
Jordan Bradford, author of The Solo Life blog, on the other hand, knows it like the back of her hand. She’s stepped in to help me out with this awesome guest post, covering 10 top Washington DC itinerary suggestions.
It’s full of epic things to include on your itinerary for Washington DC, which should make planning your DC travels that bit easier. Enjoy!
Washington, D.C. is a wonderful city to visit, no matter what interests you.
From families to history buffs to artists to nature lovers, D.C. has a little bit to offer everyone. With a wide range of free attractions, walkability and good public transportation, and access to 3 nearby airports, the U.S. capital is a no-brainer for a vacation destination.
5 Essential Know Before you Go Tips
1. Plan when to visit carefully
When to visit D.C. is probably the first thing you should consider when planning your trip.
Spring is beautiful, with perfect temperatures and everything in bloom. However, be aware of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
If you aren’t interested in the Cherry Blossoms, avoid visiting during peak bloom (seriously, avoid it at all costs). Fall is probably the best time to visit, as the weather is cooling off, the foliage is breathtaking and there are fewer tourists.
2. Bring comfy shoes
D.C. is an extremely walkable city, plus if you’re going to see any monuments or museums, be prepared to rack up the steps.
Just walking around the Tidal Basin, for instance, is 2 miles roundtrip. Wearing comfortable shoes will save your feet.
3. Take the Metro
Public transportation is very good here, especially the Metro.
While traffic in the city can be a nightmare and parking is limited, the Metro is (mostly) reliable and takes you almost everywhere you’d want to go.
It even takes you into Virginia and Maryland if you’re interested in exploring outside of D.C. and stops at Reagan National Airport.
If you’re visiting for a week, get one of the 7-day Unlimited Passes for access to Metrorail and Metrobus travel.
4. Research entrance fees and tips ahead of time
Yes, most museums are free.
However, that doesn’t mean they are all easy to get into.
Some, like the National Archives Museum, still recommend a timed reservation to avoid long lines, and others, like the National Museum of African American History and Culture are so popular that tickets are reserved months in advance.
If you have an idea of the museums you’d like to see, check out their websites beforehand.
5. Stay in Virginia or Maryland to save money
Although not as central as staying in D.C., finding a hotel or Airbnb outside the city can really save you money.
As mentioned before, the Metro has multiple stops in both states, making it a quick ride into the city. For fastest access to the heart of the city, Virginia in particular is a good choice.
Look for accommodations near the blue, orange, or silver lines, specifically Arlington or Alexandria.
10 Washington DC Itinerary Ideas- Things to Do in DC
Here we go then: 10 essential things to do in Washington DC. Be sure to include them on your itinerary!
1. Visit the Monuments and Memorials
No D.C. itinerary is complete without at least one visit to a monument or memorial.
There are so many, in fact, that you could probably spend your whole trip just seeing these (but don’t do that). If you’re not sure where to start, the Tidal Basin and the National Mall are good beginning points.
2. Ride to the Top of the Washington Monument
Speaking of monuments, it’s hard to miss the Washington Monument in any D.C. skyline.
And you can get some of the best views of the National Mall by riding to the top.
There are limited same-day tickets available, but you can also reserve tickets up to 90 days in advance for only $1/ticket online.
3. Walk the Tidal Basin
A great spot to see monuments and memorials, like the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is at the Tidal Basin.
It’s a 2-mile roundtrip walk to see the entire basin, but well worth the activity.
It’s stunning during the spring when everything is in bloom and a perfect place to watch a sunset.
4. Take a Bus Tour of D.C.
The quickest and easiest way to see almost all of D.C.’s main attractions is to take a bus tour.
here are many different kinds of tours available, but the nighttime tours and hop-on-hop-off tours are two that you can’t go wrong with.
Most bus tours pick up at Union Station, which is another great place to explore, so give yourself enough time here as well.
5. Ponder Classical and Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art
One of the best things about D.C. is that most attractions are free, including all Smithsonian museums.
The National Gallery of Art is a popular museum because it has two buildings, one for modern art and one for the classics.
There is also a sculpture garden in between, which is a can’t-miss. If you’re visiting in the summer, check out Jazz in the Garden every Friday at 5 pm.
6. Explore the National Museum of Natural History
Another must-see museum is the National Museum of Natural History.
This museum is great for kids and adults alike, with its varied exhibits including the Butterfly Pavilion, Life of Ancient Egypt and the Hall of Fossils, with a full T. Rex skeleton.
7. Catch a Baseball Game at Nationals Park
If you’re a baseball fan, don’t miss a game at Nationals Park, situated on the Potomac River in Navy Yard.
The neighborhood itself has a cool vibe, and the baseball is pretty good. Before the game, grab a drink at a nearby brewery or beer garden.
8. See Blooms at the United States Botanic Garden
For nature lovers, there are some beautiful gardens in D.C., including the U.S. Botanic Garden.
With outdoor gardens and a greenhouse, it’s a lovely and refreshing place to stop and smell the roses. The greenhouse is especially nice in the winter, and the garden is another free attraction.
9. Enjoy the Potomac River
The Potomac River is an underrated spot for fun when visiting D.C.
Feel like a local by renting a kayak, or take another tour, only this time by water. Seeing the city by river is a unique way to take in the sights, and you’ll get pictures of some of the monuments that not many other people will have.
10. Become a Spy at the International Spy Museum
Although the International Spy Museum is not one of the free museums, the experience is well worth the price.
Included with admission is the option to go on an Undercover Mission, which makes the interactive exhibits even more fun.
Especially popular for kids, the spy theme is still just as fun for adults as well.
Time to Put Together Your Washington Itinerary
With so much to offer, from history and art to covert missions and a T.Rex, Washington, D.C. is the perfect destination for any traveler.
This itinerary is only the tip of the iceberg of everything that the city has to offer, making it an ideal place to visit again and again.
Whether with family, friends, or solo, if you plan a trip to D.C., you won’t be disappointed.
Jordan is the creator of The Solo Life blog, where a Georgia girl meets the world on her own. She started the blog after conquering her fear of traveling solo. She always wanted to explore new places but doing so on her own had continuously held her back. Slowly she worked up the courage to travel alone and now wants to help you in your quest of solo travel.
You can follow her adventures on Instagram.
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