I visited DC last summer for the first time since I was a kid. It was my birthday weekend, which also happened to be July 4th weekend so it was a great time to visit our nation’s capital. Hellooo fireworks.
We didn’t plan too many things but rather improvised most of the trip. With all the Smithsonians to choose from, we weren’t worried about running out of things to do. Based on that experience, here are the things you can’t miss while in DC.
Sunsets on the National Mall
They’re everything. The sunset was spectacular from the Jefferson Memorial but they’re just as gorgeous from anywhere in the mall.
Request all the tours!
Visiting the White House is one of the top things people consider doing during their visit to Washington, DC, naturally. But there are even more tours you can set up through your your congressman or congresswoman. Among those are The U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, The Kennedy Center and even the FBI Headquarters.
Set these up a couple of weeks/months in advance, especially if you have your heart set on one particular tour. Your representative may even have an online form set up, so it’s easy.
Touring the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was fascinating. From all the different theaters to lounges representing various countries and cultures to the amazing view from the deck overlooking the Potomac River, it’s definitely worth a stop.
I didn’t book a tour of the Library of Congress but it was a must for me since one of my travel habits is to visit libraries and bookstores. The Reading Room is remarkable. Pictures don’t do it justice.
The library also has several exhibitions that are neat. I found Thomas Jefferson’s Library and the Swann Gallery of political cartoons/illustrations interesting.
Take a break on the National Mall grass
It’ll be fantastic. It’s the perfect break between museums and tours. Especially perfect with soft serve, IMO. Especially during hot summer days.
Check out the United States Botanic Garden
The flowers were obviously beautiful but I especially enjoyed how the plant exhibits were mapped out by climate. There are gardens indoors and outdoors that are worth checking out. Do it for the ‘gram.
Eat and drink, duh!
I’m awful about planning places to eat and drink. I’m more of the “things to do” expert but some of the spots we enjoyed were Surfside Taco Stand, Founding Farmers, Old Ebbitt Grill and Sauf Haus Bier Hall.
Bike the town
Another one of my “things” while traveling is to bike the city. Hop on a Capital Bike Share and hit the memorials – Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Take it a step further and cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge to visit the Arlington Memorial Cemetery.
What’s your favorite thing to do in DC? Let me know in the comments below!