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So you want to take a trip to the cherry blossom state… don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Washington D.C is very big but most of it is walkable, and what better way than to burn an extra calorie or two during your trip haha! While I was thinking of things to do I asked a friend who used to live there for recommendations, so I’ll do the same and give you suggestions from my own personal experience while I went.
First off, I would recommend driving yourself to Park ‘N Fly, and leaving your car safely parked at the lot (which is only about a 5 minute drive to the airport that a bus takes you to) during your trip because it’s way cheaper than parking your car at the actually airport garage.
When you finally arrive to D.C I would advise staying in DuPont Circle, Downtown area, or near the White House, why? Because taking the bus, train or simply walking makes it all the more easy. I used the metro most of the time and it was very simple to use. When I did get stuck I just cheated and used the maps app on the iPhone, and for the long distances I ordered an Uber. For me there was no sense in renting a car since everything was close together.
3-4 Months In Advance!
- White House
- U.S Capitol
- The Pentagon
I highly suggest you call or visit the websites to reserve a spot 3-4 months in advance before your trips because slots fill up fast! And trust me, it’s worth going to these remarkable places. All these landmarks require documentation in order to reserve your spot.
The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20500. It is open 24 hours from the outside view of course. Many people stand outside with cameras taking pictures, you’ll also see some protesting; the protesting can be big or small depending on the day you go. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s very safe. There was heavy security surrounding the parameter when I went, so I would assume families felt safe to explore around one of the most historical iconic houses in the United States.
The U.S Capitol is located at 1st street SE, Washington, DC 20004. It’s open Monday-Saturday from 8:30am till 4:30pm & closed on Sundays. There is a lovely grass area outside the US Capitol so you can also just visit and take pictures from the outside.
The Pentagon is located at Washington, DC 22202 open Monday- Friday from 9am- 3pm. This location is far from the places I suggested to stay, so keep in mind that it would be best to take another form of transportation to get here. It is possible to look at the Pentagon from outside the gate, but it won’t be a clear view (hence, I wasn’t able to find a decent picture of this building from the outside) and you most definitely won’t be able to see the whole building unless you actually go inside the gates. The best option would be to reserve a spot to enter the premises ahead of time in order to get the full experience you are looking for.
Museums Are Free!
Yes Yes Yes! This is NOT a trick! The following museums are free to the public. Washington D.C has a ton of museums from the political history, art, music, space, animals and much more. It just keeps getting better! Hello… count me in!
- National Gallery of Art. This place was very informational with art, exhibitions, and sculptured gardens. The museum offers many different type of tours for all.
- National Air and Space Museum. Admission to the whole museum is free to the public, except for the IMAX and Planetarium shows which is $1.50 per ticket processing fee and $2.00 per order fee (if purchased online).
- National Archives Museum. The museum provides history of public records that trace the story of our nation.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This natural history museum was so cool. It had so many exhibits. My most favorite was the gem and mineral exhibit because it shows how, when and where they were found, and also how much they cost in todays world.
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American and Culture. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to visit; however, I’ve heard great things about this gallery. Admission is also free, but passes are required.
Washington D.C offers meaningful and powerful Memorials that had a profound effect on me. The following memorials listed below are all free to visit at any time during any season, and very close to together and walkable.
- Lincoln Memorial
- National World War Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
- Albert Einstein Memorial
There are many monuments to see in D.C. One of the most popular is the Washington Monument. This landmark was being remodeled during my visit, so I wasn’t able to go inside or close enough to where I wanted to be. But who knows? It may be remodeled and open by the time you visit. If you do decide to go, the tower is located at 2 15th Street NW Washington, DC 20024.
The Tidal Basin
The most beautiful sites to see in my opinion is the Tidal Basin. It totals 106 acres between Potomac River and the Washington Channel in Washington, D.C. The Tidal Basin is a must-see all year around, especially during the Spring season because surrounding the lake you can witness the cherry’s bloom for miles and miles away. The season starts around the beginning of April (to be specific I would say between April 4-18). They can stay blossomed for about 2 weeks. This must-see popular occurrence is called National Cherry Blossom Festival.
U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum
I couldn’t leave D.C without going to the Holocaust Museum again as an adult because even though it was my first time seeing it at 9 years old, I remember it impacting my experience so much, and I learned from it. This powerful memorial is like no other with exhibits showing a lot of displays and belongings from the time of the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945. It is family friendly and an educational moment for children as well. The Holocaust Memorial Museum is located at 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024; open from 10:00am- 5:30pm. Admission is free, but you do have to reserve tickets (online or at the location).
Washington National Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is a gorgeous, huge Cathedral with stain glasses and art covering the walls. The experience welcomes you whether you’re Catholic or not to pray, reflect, or simply walk around. Located at 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016. Admission is free.
Arlington National Cemetery
You will need transportation to get to the cemetery because it is no where near the popular landmarks in D.C. In fact, it is across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. I personally rented a car because the Uber would have been way too expensive, and I only used it for that one day, so the total ended up being cheaper versus using a rental for the whole trip. The Arlington National Cemetery is 624 acres of the buried dead from the Civil War and earlier wars. Along side from the history, exhibits, burials, etc; make sure to witness The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is where a soldier from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment stands watch over the tomb for 24 hours a day. It happens every hour on the hour from October 1 through March 31, and every half hour from April 1 through September 30. The Cemetery is open 365 days a year from 8am to 5pm, located at Arlington, VA 22211.
John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts
If you’re into arts, then this is definitely for you! The ceiling and walls were decorated full with art work and information, people walking around, or students practicing their skills. The John F. Kennedy Center hosts professional shows from Broadways, concerts, ballets, etc. And in their newsletter you can see free events the performing arts center hosts. Located at 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566.
As you can see, there are many things to do in Washington D.C. & so much more. If you ever doubted visiting the state, don’t! Take a chance and feel free to contact me and I’ll personalize an itinerary for your travels to your liking.