Fall is quickly approaching and this is my favorite time of year to visit Washington D.C! I am going next month with some friends and I can't wait. D.C. is beautiful in the summer too, but it is so crowded and hot and there is construction everywhere. If you're going to go visit D.C, I would highly suggest going in either spring or fall, but I would say fall if you can. Spring can also get crowded because of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Now, I don't pretend to be an expert on Washington D.C, but after living in the metro area and visiting countless times over the last year, I've learned some things and found some really great things to do. Like any great city, you can't see everything there is to see in Washington D.C in one day. I would advise taking three or four days and really seeing all that the city has to offer, and even then you won't see it all. That's one of the reasons I love this city so much. Here are my Top 5 Things to Do in Washington D.C.
1. Monuments, The White House & The National Mall
The most popular thing to do in D.C. by far, but also one of the coolest. You can go to both sides of the White House, though you cannot go into it without booking a tour 6 months in advance. It is very cool to see this building and it's grounds. The Capital Building, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The World War II Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial, The Smithsonian Institution and a TON of other things are located on the National Mall. While this is where you'll find most of the tourists, this is also where you'll see D.C.'s most popular sites. This is an all day event, because there is so much to do in this area.
2. Smithsonian Museums & The National Archives
The Smithsonian Museums will take you way more than one day to see them all. In fact, it could likely take you a week. My personal favorites are the natural history museum, the american history museum, and the air and space museum. Oh, and I should probably mention that all of the Smithsonian Museums are free. Yes, FREE. They are completely awesome and all absolutely worth the 2-3 hours you will spend looking around. Just up the street from the Smithsonian Museums is the National Archives building. This is where you can view the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. Another very cool experience and worth the time you'll spend in the building!
3. Tidal Basin Walk
There is a path that goes all the way around the tidal basin and walks you over the Kutz Bridge and around near all the Cherry Blossom trees. It takes you past the Jefferson Memorial (my favorite spot in DC), through the FDR Memorial and around to the MLK Jr. Memorial. It is, in my humble opinion, where you can see the most gorgeous views in the city. If you're up for a walk, because it is a long one, this is the one for you. NOTE: Even if you don't do the whole walk, you MUST go see the Jefferson Memorial, I think it is the most beautiful spot in all of the city.
4. Arlington National Cemetery & Marine Corps War Memorial
Across the river from the National Mall and main monuments is the Arlington National Cemetery. This is where you can find the graves of former presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the graves of many other well known american heroes and government officials. It is a humbling experience and truly gives you a sense of the sacrifice that men and women have made for our country. Right up the road is the Marine Corps War Memorial, this is a very special place for my family as we have marines in our blood, but it is a must see for anyone visiting the D.C. area. It provides an excellent view of the city, while being surrounded by a beautiful park in Arlington, Virginia.
5. 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon
I went here for the first time in May with my family, and I wish I had gone sooner. We all remember the horrific day of September 11th, 2001 when the World Trade Centers were attacked and planes flew into them and the Pentagon. There is a memorial for everyone who died in the attacks on the Pentagon next to the building, and it is one of the most emotional and humbling experiences. It makes you glad to be alive. You can also see the side of the Pentagon that the plane hit and tell where the new building meets the old building.
BONUS: The D.C. Metro System
A lot of visitors to the city will think that driving into the city, finding parking, and walking everywhere would be the best thing to do, and while DC is much better than other cities to do this, I would advise that you take the metro. The metro is an underground train system that can take you anywhere in the city. It is the easiest, most convenient, cheapest, and fastest way to get around the city. Plus, its really, really cool.
Those are my top 5 things to do in Washington D.C! I hope you have enjoyed this post! Have you done any of these things? Will you do any of them on your next trip? Let me know in the comment box below!