First thing is buy a weekly (or monthly) subway pass. My personal opinion is this is the best way to move around DC. If you plan to take taxis aquaint yourself to the zone maps before you arrive. Taxis can get pretty pricey.
Do the whole tourist thing, see all the monuments during the day and at night. The best view of the city at night is from the roof of the Kennedy Center. The flame from Kennedy’s grave can be seen from a distance from the back of the Lincoln Memorial best viewed at night.
Don’t miss the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetary. Save hot and/or rainy days to visit the many museums, especially the Holocaust Museum. The Bureau of Engraving and printing is an interesting tour too, I wish they gave free samples. The view from the Old Post Office Pavilion is excellent.
We ate so many places and had good food and service everywhere. I can’t even remember the names of the restaurants.
Contact your congressperson for tours of the capital. You should also get tickets in advance for some visits or the line for tickets can be very long.
Bring good walking shoes. Hope this answered hour questions
I don’t think a visit to Washington DC would be complete without a visit to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space museum. It is just filled with historic aircraft and spacecraft. There’s even a piece of moon rock you can touch!
The subway system is very good, and I agree that a weekly pass is a very good idea.
Don’t miss the International Spy Museum which is about a block from Ford’s Theater (yes, where Lincoln was shot). Also, when you visit the National Mall and hit the obvious, make sure you don’t miss the WWII Memorial at sunset. Get there about a half hour before the sun touches the horizon, then spend some tranquil moments reading the carved stone and listening to the fountain as the sun sets. It is beautiful.
As for restaurants… Many options.
If you’ve never had Ethiopian, give it a shot for dinner at Meskereem in Adams Morgan on 18th Street and get one of the messobs which are variety platters so you can get a lot of tastes.
Georgia Browns in Dupont Circle is a classic choice for Southern Food.
My favorite Thai food also comes from Dupont Circle at Thai Tanic or Thai Phoon.
An early morning walk through the Embassy neighborhood is fun too.
Since you have plenty of time to explore the DC area, I would definitely not miss going to Old Town Alexandria. You can take the metro there (King Street station, blue or yellow lines). There’s a free trolley that runs up and down King Street, going down to the Potomac river, which is a beautiful place to walk around. Tons of great restaurants & shops line King street.
*Torpedo Factory (free art center)
*Hank’s Oyster bar (amazing sea food)
*Eamonn’s (fish & chips)
*Bastille (French food, on Royal St.)
*Restaurant Eve (very pricey, but amazing food)
You can arrange to take historic tours around town. http://visitalexandriava.com/attractions-activites/historic-attractions/index.cfm
Also, Old Town is not far from Mount Vernon, which is definitely worth seeing!
Go see the monuments (plus the Capitol) both in the day time and at night. If you are a morning person, you can go to the monuments very early, when there is no crowd (they mostly are open 24 hours). If you want to see something off the beaten path, go to Theodore Roosevelt Island. As for museums (save for a rainy day or when its really hot), I’d recommend the Natural History, American History, Air and Space and Spy Museums. All are free except the Spy Museum. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (where they print money) is cool too. From the Netherlands Carillion (next to the Iwo Jima Memorial), you can get a great view of DC. ALso check out the National Cathedral. Outside of DC, the AIr and Space Museum has another location out by Dulles with different stuff than the one downtown (~25 miles W of DC). Annapolis is a nice town to walk around (~30 miles E of DC), and Baltimore has a nice waterfront area and the best aquarium in the country (~35 miles NE of DC).
As for places to eat, there is a food court in the basement of Union Station with almost any kind of food you could possibly imagine. For good hamburgers, go to Five Guys. Although its becoming a national chain, it originated in the DC area. Also, in Arlington near Rosslyn, go to Ray’s Hellburger for good burgers or Ray’s the Steaks for good steaks. There’s also a Mongolian BBQ I like in Bethesda called BD’s Mongolian BBQ.
I hope that helps. If you need other suggestions, let me know.
Smithsonian, and don’t miss the Air and Space.
I would highly recommend Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle. I would also recommend going to the Adams-Morgan area for some good Ethiopian food at Meskerem (http://meskeremethiopianfood.com/)
I’ve lived near D.C. All my life. I recommend seeing the museums during the day, don’t miss the sunset, and see the monuments at night. The monuments are less crowded and beautifully lit up at night. No one had mentioned the Capital Botanical Gardens which are next to the Capital Building. I love that! There is something for everyone. I have taken my relatives on tours of D.C. a bazillion times, and I find the Museum of American History, the mint, and the Air and Space Museums boring. Sorry, but I do. However, if you are into flight, Space Exploration and Americana, then by all means… The Holocaust museum is something to see, but prepared to leave it feeling depressed. It is to be expected, but I don’t go there anymore. I’ve been there a few times already, but I wouldn’t go back. So sad. Be sure to see the FDR, MLK Jr., and WWII memorials. If the weather is nice, they are beautiful at night. Basically, make a list before you come of the things that interest you. There is a lot to see. My favorite museum is the Natural History Museum. I could visit over and over again. I has the hope diamond, dinosaur bones, the Hall of Mammals, Egyptian mummies (at least they did), minerals and gems, a live insect zoo including a butterfly tunnel type of thing. It is great for kids if you have them. It is next to a sculpture garden that has this huge fountain in the spring/summer which turns into an ice skating rink in the winter. Most of the food in D.C. is pretty good and service is great. However, if you don’t want to pay too much, and just want to fill your belly, there are decent food courts in Union Station, the Ronald Reagan building, and the Old Post Office Pavilion (which has a tower with an awesome view of the city especially now that the Washington Monument doesn’t allow people inside due to that last earthquake we had). Happy visiting!
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