I believe that Washington, D.C. is a pretty underrated destination when it comes to traveling in the United States. Personally, I would include a tour of the city in absolutely any road trip of a few days on the East Coast. Washington, D.C. is so different from the rest of the U.S. cities, by the fact that it is the capital and this makes it a full of history and refinement place.
I’m excited about the elegance of this town and its imposing buildings. Besides their architecture and style, they also have important politic, economic and administrative functions. For this reason, Washington, D.C. is also named The Historical Center of the United States of America.
And because you should convince yourself of the fact that D.C. really is a delightful, educational and entertaining destination, I’m inviting you to follow my guide for a short getaway to Washington, D.C.
Where to stay:
I stayed at Club Quarters Hotel. I liked it a lot, so I would certainly recommend it to anyone. It’s a 3 stars hotel, located near the White House. In addition, it has a nice view over the Farragut Square. Even though the rooms may seem a little bit too small, they are perfect for couples or for solo travelers.
For reservations, check the website.
What to do & see in Washington, D.C.
The National Mall:
It represents the main attraction of the city but at the same time the historical part of it. The majority of the tourists, if not all of them, is coming here to spend time in America’s front yard, as they call The National Mall, with lots of inspiration. Walking around in this area, you will quickly notice that you are surrounded by iconic monuments and museums.
I really enjoyed The National Mall, so I returned to see it again 4 or 5 times. It’s a pleasure to walk between the Lincoln Memorial and The Capitol, along with the Reflecting Poll, in an alley with a length of 1 mile. On each side of the pool are some nice gravel walkways that are also pedestrian friendly.
⇒ Also read: What to visit in San Francisco in less than a day
United States Capitol:
For me, The US Capitol is definitely the most beautiful building in Washington but also an example of neoclassical architecture. You can visit it for free if you have enough time, or you can only admire it from the outside. Either way, it will be a unique experience. The schedule and more information can be found here: https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/event-calendar
The White House:
Remember: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! This is the famous address of the most famous house in the world, The White House. However, if you have high expectations in terms of size regarding the residence of the President of the United States, you’ll be a little disappointed.
Although its architecture and design are very attractive, the White House is not that impressive as everyone would think. If you get here, I recommend you to take a walk around it, because each side looks different.
The Lincoln Memorial:
The Lincoln Memorial has a very exciting position that offers a superb view over the Reflecting Pool: “face to face” with the Capitol. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. Therefore, inside the monument, is the 19-foot statue that portrays him. The Lincoln Memorial was completed in 1914.
The Jefferson Memorial:
This monument is dedicated to the president who wrote the Declaration of Independence. From my point of view, it’s the second most beautiful building in Washington, following The Capitol. The circular shape and the resemblance with the Pantheon in Rome make this building deserve its place in the top 4 favorite American buildings in terms of architecture. Located on Lake Tidal Basin, Jefferson Memorial definitely deserves our admiration.
The Reflecting Pool:
It’s called so because of its strategic location. Depending on where you are, the Reflecting Pool offers nice views over the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The Reflecting Pool is 618 m long and 51 m wide.
World War II Memorial:
This monument was built to commemorate the service of the 16 million members of the Armed Forces of the United States. The shallow pool is surrounded by 56 granite pillars. Each state and each US Territory of the soldiers that were sacrificed, it’s represented by one of those pillars.
It’s a gorgeous monument, located about halfway between The Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. From here, you can have one of the most spectacular views over the Lincoln Memorial.
Given its height of 170 m, this monument can be easily spotted from about anywhere in the city. The construction made of marble, granite and gneiss blue stone was completed in 1884 in order to commemorate George Washington. It is the tallest stone structure and the tallest obelisk in the world. If you wish, you can go up to the top for an extraordinary panorama over the city.
The National Archives of the USA:
It is the place you should not miss it if you want to see the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The Historical Episcopal Church:
It’s a church with Gothic architecture, which served as a hospital during President Lincoln. Later, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Treasury Department:
It’s an underrated building with marvelous architecture, situated next to the White House. This institution has many functions, including collecting taxes, duties, and money paid and due to the US, publishing statistical reports and others.
Explore the neighborhoods:
Washington, D.C. is very stylish. Therefore, it’s a pleasure to navigate your way through the city. If you want to see a neighborhood with adorable townhouses, quaint boutiques, and pretty residential streets, then you should head to Georgetown, home to Georgetown University.
Go to a museum:
You have plenty of options. Whether you choose to go the International Spy Museum, Holocaust Museum or the National Museum of American History, where you can admire Dorothy’s real ruby slippers as seen in the Wizard of Oz, it’s impossible not to take your portion of history and culture or to enrich your general knowledge.
You must know that you have free admission to the Smithsonian Institution museums like the American History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum or the Smithsonian Castle.
Other attractions to consider:
- Arlington National Cemetery
- The Pentagon
- The National Cathedral
- The Library of Congress
- Bureau of Engraving
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- U.S. Botanic Gardens
- The district is divided into four quadrants with uneven areas: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southeast (SE) and Southwest (SW), delimited by four axes that radiate from the Capitol.
- A portion of Massachusetts Avenue is known as Embassy Row because it hosts not less than 59 foreign embassies.
- 6 out of 10 favorite buildings in America, in terms of architecture (aia.org), are in Washington, D.C. These are The White House, Washington National Cathedral, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- In the White House, there are 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms; The US president who named the building was Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.
- The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King had his famous speech “I Have a Dream” on the steps of Lincoln Memorial.
- Try to visit in spring or autumn. Winters can be quite cold and snowy, while summers are too hot and the city is full of tourists.
- You should definitely wear a very comfortable pair of shoes. Although it may seem that the attractions are close to each other, there is quite a distance between them.
- Leave the car in the hotel parking lot and take the subway. It’s easy to get anywhere and is not very expensive.
- If you insist on driving to The Mall, then park along the Rock Creek Parkway, which is free and very close, but only for a limited time.
- It would be great to plan your trip for the springtime so you can attend the Cherry Blossom Festival, along the Tidal Basin. It’s truly amazing.
- Try to walk along The Mall by night, as well. The views are stunning.