Washington DC is unsurprisingly high up on the list of things to do in America - and with good reason. As the capital and home to the President, the city has a long history and plenty to do! As we were only in DC for three full days, we made sure to plan it extensively - making sure to include the things we genuinely wanted to see.
As per you'd expect in any major city, central accommodation is pretty crazily expensive - but if pricey chain hotels like the W or Intercontinental are your thing, then by all means. But we chose to stay in the Hilton Garden Inn in Greenbelt. Whilst this is physically not in DC (it's even in Maryland), the hotel has a free shuttle service between the Metro station which meant it was only about $10 a day to travel between DC & our hotel (return trip). The business park where our hotel was also housed a Marriott Courtyard and Marriott Residence but it's ideal if you're not bothered about staying in the centre. We drove to DC so having free parking in our hotel made our life so much easier!
Aside from taking the Metro into the city, our transport was pretty much reliant upon either walking or our trusty Big Bus Tour. Just like we did in Philadelphia, the us of a hop-on hop off tour was ideal for not only getting situated but also meant it was really easy to reach further out tourist locations! Washington DC features three different routes which meant we could hit all the attractions we wished. We went for a two day ticket + night tour, however in hindsight, we'd have been perfectly fine with a one day but the night tour was brilliant! Pretty much every tourist bus service offers an equivalent but the monuments lit up are stunning. I think the Night Tour was one of the highlights of our trip.
But if tourist buses aren't your thing (although I'm being serious about the night bus), everything is walkable. The main Smithsonian museums are located along the Mall (between the Washington Monument and Capitol building) and the monuments are about a 30 minute walk from the Washington Monument. We were fortunate with a sunny day so the walk wasn't an issue!
The Holocaust Memorial Museum
This was the first stop when we arrived as tickets are timed. Having studied Holocaust testimony during my degree, this was something I really wanted to visit (especially as I've referenced them in some of my essays). I didn't take any pictures because I didn't feel it was appropriate but it's well worth a visit. Tickets are free but they can sell out as tickets are for certain time slots. Get there early to avoid the crowds but it's definitely worth the visit! You'll probably spend about two hours here. (Located a 10-15 minute walk from the Smithsonian Metro Stop).
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
On our second day, we got up bright and early and hopped on the bus to head to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The memorial was absolutely stunning and had an incredible view over the water. It's surrounded by Cherry Blossoms which means it's stunning in the Spring, but as it's hot on the tourist trail, if you want pictures, I'd suggest getting up early for it. If you're there early enough, it's so aesthetically pleasing that you might even be able to get your blogger on for a few sneaky outfit pictures.
Old Ebbitt Grill
For lunch we met up with friends at the Old Ebbitt Grill (located next to the W Hotel, opposite the Treasury) which is fairly famous. Not only home to really good food, it's also historically (and currently) famous for where Congressmen hold their meetings! If you do decide to lunch here, it's worth booking in advance as there is always a huge queue! Sidenote: there's no dresscode at lunch but it is fairly fancy at dinner.
Dwight D Eisenhower Building & White House
Only a stone's throw from the Old Ebbitt Grill is the White House and stunning Dwight D Eisenhower building (home to the office of the Vice President). Due to immense security, the Whitehouse was fairly tricky to get a photo of but the Eisenhower building wasn't! You don't really need to spend too long at either, but it's a nice idea to walk past them both! Sidenote: if you look close enough, you might be able to spot a sniper or two...
Abraham Lincoln Memorial
Possibly one of the most iconic sites in Washington DC has to be the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool. The Memorial is absolutely heaving with people so again, get there early but it's definitely worth a visit! It's architecturally stunning and the steps provide a great view of the city. If you're up for a challenge, have a look at the inscription on the right hand wall, on the far left panel - in the 20th line from the top is an error - see if you can spot it! Tweet me when you do!
At the end of the reflecting pool closest to the Washington Monument is the WW2 memorial. This is potentially one of my favourite memorials in DC (especially at night when it's all lit up!). The memorial is sizeable compared to others and is surprisingly calming considering it's so central! Surrounding a body of water, each state is represented with a individualised wreath.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History
All Smithsonian museums are free so they're definitely worth penciling in! Because we were only in DC for a few days, we didn't manage to visit every museum but we did visit this one. Unfortunately when we were there, half of a floor was closed off as they're currently installing a new exhibition but we did get to see a stunning exhibition on the First Ladies of America featuring the dresses they wore for the inaugural ball! As this was towards the end of the day, we were rather tired but it's worth a stop.
And there you have it - our first day in Washington DC. Stay tuned for part 2!
Have you been to Washington DC? What kind of thing do you normally head for when on holiday?