A Weekend in Washington, D.C.
Published: July 31, 2018
A weekend getaway to Washington, D.C. is one of the best choices you can make. The city is grand, majestic and surprisingly clean. And after seeing the monuments, it'll make sense why this is the nation's capital. Plan your trip to Washington, D.C. well because when you decide to travel can make a big difference. The best time is actually during spring when the city's cherry blossoms explode in colors of pink and white. If you’re coming in spring, you can time your visit for the National Cherry Blossom Festival or when the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom. Peak bloom is roughly around the first few days of April and the last few days of March. It's such a gorgeous site that people come from all over the world and the United States just to see them.
Sites to See
- The White House and environs:
The absolute first stop you should make on your weekend getaway to DC is a trip to the White House. You can take a guided tour or simply stand at the front, taking photos. There are guards and it is gated, but you can get a nice view of it. Also stunning, by the way, is the large building next to the White House. It's the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and it is just as impressive as the White House, if not more. Take a leisurely stroll behind the White House to the Washington Monument. It's fenced off but you can get pretty close. You can also sit down on the grass and have a picnic. Spend the morning in this area as there is also the Holocaust Memorial museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History nearby. Most museums in Washington, D.C. are free so take full advantage of that fact. Later in the day, head to the U.S. Capitol building. You can also visit the U.S. Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. These white, Roman-style buildings are breathtaking.
- The National Mall:
On your second day, spend the entire morning at the National Mall. It's a good idea to get there early because the place gets justifiably packed. Head to the Lincoln Memorial first. By 11:00 a.m., it's too crowded to get any decent photos. Lincoln Memorial is probably the second most popular site to see in Washington, D.C. (after the White House), which means there are always people. If you climb the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and look out at the city, you'll see the Washington Monument. It's a cliche image that you'll see in every magazine and movie, but take a photo. This is what coming to DC is all about: seeing this. There's a lot in the National Mall and you should try to see as much as you can here. There are three war memorials: the Vietnam Memorial, the World War II memorial and the Korean War Memorial. While the Vietnam Memorial and World War II memorial are well done, it's the Korean War Memorial that is visually most captivating. A battalion of sculpted soldiers have been placed in different positions, caught in the act of moving and preparing for battle.
Next, move on to the Martin Luther King memorial. You enter the memorial by passing through a large, white rock. Pink cherry blossom trees overhang relevant Martin Luther King's quotes, which span both sides of the wall. The MLK memorial is conveniently located next to the Tidal Basin, a pond that stretches for two miles. You can rent a paddle boat or just hang out by the water's edge. It's a picturesque sight, so it may be a nice time to sit down and have a snack.
You must save time to visit Georgetown, a vibrant suburb of DC and home to the infamous Georgetown University. There are over 100 restaurants here that cater to just about every taste bud. Try to have lunch at Kafe Leopold. There's always a line but it is well worth the 20-30 minute wait. Another option is to dine along the scenic Potomac River. At night, listen to live jazz at the Blues Alley Jazz club.
If you’re looking to do some shopping, Georgetown is the perfect place. Stores range from local boutiques like Hu’s Wear and Lynn Louisa to bigger names like Rag & Bone and Madewell. If you have time, don’t miss stores like Relish, the beauty boutique Bluemercury and the retail store, Cusp. Not looking to buy anything? Georgetown is also a great place to just explore. It seems like every corner you turn is teeming with gorgeous apartment buildings, intriguing galleries and Michelin-star restaurants. You can also tour Georgetown University, by the way.
Driving in Washington, D.C. is a little bit of a nightmare. There is always bumper-to-bumper traffic and the parking garages charge a fortune. Plus, hotel valet parking is expensive. The best option is to take a taxi or Uber to your hotel and then rely on public transportation the rest of the time. The subway systems are clean and run well. There's also a bus that goes in and out of Georgetown. Another great option is a bike. You can rent bikes for the day and bike just about anywhere you need to go.
If you're a foodie, get up early and head to Union market. It's actually one of the best things that Washington, D.C. has to offer. There are food vendors, wine vendors and little boutique stores. They also have a great oyster bar, if you like oysters. You can have breakfast, lunch or dinner here at either a pop-up restaurant or one of the permanent fixtures. Take note that on weekends, Union Market is packed.
Dining Out Tips
When you travel to Washington, D.C., one of the things you'll quickly notice is that the locals dress up. You won’t see people heading to restaurants in jeans and T-shirts, and if you do see people dressed a little on the scruffy side, they're most likely tourists. Maybe it's the fact that DC attracts world leaders, diplomats and government representatives, but dressing up when you go out seems to be a thing here.