DC Travel Guide and tips
Washington DC is full of young 20 and 30-something who embody lots of ambition and energy. Also, if you want to blend in more with the locals, call is DC instead of Washington. Locals almost never call it Washington, unless they are politicians.
Besides knowing what to call Washington DC when you get there, here are several tips for how to see the side of Washington DC you don’t necessarily see in the brochures. Ditch the tourist traps to see what else Washington DC has to offer.
Getting There to Washington DC
Given how central of a hub the city is, there are several ways to get into Washington DC. There are three massive airports, along with the train and bus also being an option. Of course, you can always drive there as well. However, you will find it incredibly exhausting and aggravating driving in this city, so be forewarned!
Two of the airports are farther out from the city, so if you want to fly in as close as possible, land at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). Once you touch down in DC, you can take the metro for about 20 minutes into the city’s heart. From there, you can walk to many of the best tourist attractions.
Getting Around DC
There are four main ways to get around the city: cars, taxis, buses, and the metro. Given just how congested DC is and how difficult (and expensive) it is to find parking, your best best to get somewhere fast is the metro. It’s a clean and safe way to get around that’s quite affordable as well. What’s also great about the Metro is that it’s open until 3 AM. Again, trust me when I say this city’s streets are packed. Nix the rental car and take the Metro like the locals!
The Best Time to Visit Washington DC
DC in the summer gets hot…really hot. We are talking hot like the South. The best times to visit Washington DC are:
- Late March and early June
- September and November
The springtime has a surprise for you when you visit: The Cherry Blossom Festival.
This beautiful festival sometime in March or April turns the city into glorious shades of pastel pink and white. Take it from a local: this is when Washington DC is at its prettiest.
Things to Do in Washington DC
Now that you know the best times to visit DC and how to get there, let’s get right into some of the great things to do in Washington DC. There are plenty of attractions and experiences you can have in this vibrant city.
Take a Cruise on the River
A cruise on the mighty Potomac River is an extraordinary way to see Washington DC like few ever see it. Several cruise-style boats offer to take you around the city while you are served lunch or dinner. You are bound to have lots of fun just as you would anytime you go on a daytime cruise.
See Iconic Landmarks at Night
Getting to see the most famous landmarks in Washington DC like the Washington Monument is something many cross off their to-do list soon after they get to the city. However, seeing Washington DC’s iconic landmarks at night offers a radically different experience.
All the city’s most famous landmarks are lit up with a dazzling array of lights that make them glow. Here are some of the best lit-up monuments to check out at night:
- Lincoln Memorial
- Jefferson Memorial
- Capitol Building
- Washington Monument
- National Mall
Besides getting incredible photos of these lit up landmarks, you beat the crowds of tourists coming to see them during the day time. The National Park is worth going to during the daytime though. You can compare it to Central Park in New York City, where people are lounging around, taking part in recreational activities, and simply just having lunch.
Become Mesmerized By Eclectic Art
Forget about traditional museums that see flocks of tourists invade them. There are some amazing art museums and exhibits that vary from the psychedelic to the futuristic. Here are some of the best places to see the mesmerizing art DC has to offer:
- DuPont Underground – Formally a subterranean streetcar station in DuPont Circle, this place is now a contemporary performance space that has some great counterculture and alternative art.
- Artechouse – This art space blends art with next-level futuristic technology. You will immerse yourself in interactive art exhibits that will tantalize your senses and leave you with lasting memories.
- Newseum – Although it is not one of the twenty-something free Smithsonian museums in DC, this pay-to-enter interactive museum is well worth the price of admission. This new museum is all about paying tribute to the our most fundamental rights of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. Get up close and personal with some of the most pivotal moments in modern history.
- National Gallery of Art – Although this is a more popular art museum, you will definitely want to check out its modern art exhibit. There is even a 41,000-LED light installation called the Multiverse. Talk about being out of this world!
- National Gallery of Sculpture Art Garden – Nearby the National Mall, this outdoor art sculpture exhibit has some enormous and impressive sculptures such as a thinking rabbit made out of bronze, a tree made entirely out of stainless steel, and a vibrant red horse that looks really abstract. There are also free outdoor jazz concerts on Friday nights when it’s warm and a skating rink when it’s cold.
Best Neighborhoods to Visit in DC
There are some attractive areas and neighborhoods to visit in DC. Some of the best neighborhoods to visit are the following:
- Georgetown – The oldest, prettiest, and most expensive neighborhood.
- Foggy Bottom – The closest neighborhood to Georgetown, also having its own charm.
- Washington Circle & DuPont Circle – This vibrant and historic area boasts plenty of great and affordable hotels. It is also close to the metro and many of the popular sights.
Where to Eat in the district
There is a wealth of options when it comes to good eats in DC. Locals have their own favorites, which you are sure to love. Here are some of the best places where to eat in DC and get some delicious food in the city:
- Le Diplomate – Freshly-baked baguettes, delicious signature burgers, and crème brûlée melts in your mouth.
- Founding Farmers – A must if you want to experience some classic Americana eats (and some modern spins on it), such as bacon lollipops, pimiento-cheese flatbread, and blueberry pancakes.
- Kapnos Taverna – Enjoy a Mediterranean seafood experience by eating dishes like charred octopus and massive shellfish platters.
- Fiola Mare – For a classy evening filled with seafood prepared in the Mediterranean and Adriatic style, this is a top choice. The langoustines and branzino are especially great choices.
- Ted’s Bulletin – Breakfast is hard to beat at this place. If you love big portions, you will enjoy the scrambled eggs and overstuffed breakfast burritos.
Where to stay in DC. Best hotels.
At the end of every eventful day, you are going to want to crash somewhere. Luckily, there are a great deal of hotels to choose from. If this is your first time coming to Washington DC and you want to stay in an affordable (by the city’s standards), yet stylish hotel, the following are all great choices:
- The Embassy Row Hotel – The bold look of this boutique hotel will bedazzle you. Each room looks eclectic and unique, making you feel like you’re staying in a classy AirBnb rather than a hotel. There’s even a rooftop lounge where you can have some drinks in the evening.
- Kimpton Palomar – This hotel has plenty of personality. The colors and textures in each room, along with the faux fur throws, make this a one-of-a-kind stay. There’s even a heated outdoor pool that’s open during the summer. Have a pet? Let them get pampered here where they get their own bed, food and a water bar.
- The Normandy – When it’s a no-frills boutique hotel you’re after, the Normandy is a great choice. While light on the amenities, it’s incredibly cozy and charming. There’s 75 rooms that have a Parisian vibe, featuring velvet armchairs and marble bathrooms. There’s even a private garden terrace downstairs where you can enjoy a break from the sometimes-hectic pace of the city.
- The Dupont Circle Hotel – Are you looking for a hotel that feels like a home? This is the place. Located in the trendy Dupont Circle area, this place has heated floors, bath tubs, and glass balconies. Elegant and contemporary is what you’ll find here.
- The Melrose Georgetown – If you want to get a Founding Fathers look and feel in a hotel, this is an eclectic way to get it. Featuring massive murals of the US constitution, along with portraits of all the big names in the Founding Fathers era, this places exudes American origins. There’s also a seasonal farm-to-table restaurant on-site featuring local seafood.
Washington DC has plenty of unique and fun things to offer you. Far from just being a stuffy city full of politicians, there is culture, character, and class. Now that you have read this Washington DC travel guide and know how to see DC like a local, get over to this vibrant city and experience it for yourself!