As a former resident of Washington, DC, it will forever be my first love of American cities. The multi-colored row houses, living history, and mouth-watering food will sure to win you over as well. The city is split into neighborhoods that covers only a few square miles, making DC one of the most walkable cities in the US. Be sure to bring your walking shoes and enjoy every minute in our nation’s capital!
Check out my go-to recommendations below, or check out how I’d recommend you maximize your time in the city over a three-day weekend.
Museums & Monuments
Washington, DC is synonymous with history memorialized in museums and monuments. Luckily for you, DC tourist, the majority of these museums are free to the public. Here are my recommendations for the ones worth the hype:
- The Capitol building. Pro-tip: - call your congressman! Each congressional office is set up to give personalized tours to its constituents during business hours.
- Library of Congress – largest collection of books in the world, including Thomas Jefferson’s personal library.
- The White house, and the Renwick Gallery (it’s across the street!) – If you don’t take a photo in front the White House, did you even go to DC? After checking this box, head over to the Renwick Gallery – a small, but innovative museum where photo taking is encouraged. You’ll enjoy the a/c and interactive exhibits.
- Newseum (Paid) – A well-done, interactive museum that lets you re-live history as it happened, including a beautiful tribute to coverage of the 9/11 attacks. The second floor boasts the best views in town.
- American History Museum – the original American flag on display is worth the trip.
- Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Memorial on the National Mall – Each lit beautifully, these are best viewed at night!
- Hirshorn Museum – The Smithsonian’s answer to contemporary art.
More to see/do
- Visit the The Flea at Eastern Market (+ legendary buckwheat pancakes at Market Lunch!); every Sunday 10 – 5 PM
- Check out a Nats game in the summer; grab a beer at the Bullpen Beer Garden before heading into the stadium (open two hours before game time)
- Brewery tour, including DC Brau, Atlas Brew Works, Bluejacket Brewery, and Capital City Brewing in the Navy Yard neighborhood
- Union Market – check out this food market boasting over 40 food stalls filed with DC’s best eats. Grab a coffee/beverage and hang outside at the picnic tables playing corn hole all afternoon. Beware – it’s not easily accessed. An uber is your best bet.
- If you’re into fitness, lace up your shoes and head out for a run like the locals through Rock Creek Park and around the National Mall
Let’s be honest, DC is a “let’s go see some things, so we can eat” kind of tourist destination. Here are just a few of my favorites:
- Glen's Garden Market (Dupont/Shaw locations) – A great local grocery store where you can grab light bites, local beers, and only products made from the Chesapeake Bay area.
- Etto (14th Street) – Italian – Billed as rustic-chic Italian, their wood-fired pizzas and fresh ricotta appetizers will hit every taste bud.
- Estadio (14th Street) Spanish – Never ending tapas.
- Le Diplomate (14th Street) – French – Voted best burger in Washington.
- Compass Rose (14th Street) - Street Food with incredible music
- baked and wired (Georgetown) – please skip the Georgetown Cupcake hype!
- Tryst (Adams Morgan) – A great morning spot with mismatched tables. Bring your laptop to fit in the with the locals.
- Founding Farmers (Foggy Bottom) or Farmers & Distillers (Gallery Place)
- Pineapple & Pearls Coffee Bar (Eastern Market)
Favorite neighborhoods to spend an afternoon
- Adams Morgan - Catch a drum circle at beautiful Meridian Hill Park and wander up 18th street for the best ethnic food in the city. Be sure to leave before sunset when all of college-aged Washington DC descends.
- 14th Street & Shaw – Delicious restaurants and great shopping. This historic area is a great place for an afternoon bar crawl and picking up locally made trinkets.
- Eastern Market/Capitol Hill – Check out the famed farmer’s market and spend the afternoon picnicking on the grassy lawn outside of our nation’s most historic buildings.
Whew, that was a lot! DC has an ever-growing list of things to do, so it’s hard to narrow them down. If you’re heading over for a long weekend, check out how I recommend you spend a three-day weekend in the city.