Washington, D.C. may not be on the top of everyone’s travel list, after all it doesn’t have the exotic appeal that most people are looking for when planning their coveted yearly vacation. (Hopefully we all travel more than once a year, but I know that once a year is typical.) But our nation’s capital should not be overlooked! I have visited the city a few times and am excited to share with you my Washington, DC travel guide!
Washington DC Travel Guide
Washington, D.C. offers almost everything that NYC has to offer, but with less crowds and more open spaces. NYC will always be number one in my heart, but I have to say that D.C. has that je ne sais quoi that keeps me going back for more. Plus, it is fascinating to see and learn about the amazing people and places that have molded this country.
Pretty much, Washington, D.C. should be on every history lover’s bucket list.
Here is the gist of what we did while visiting D.C.:
I want to touch base for a second on how we travel. In my head, we have so much money that we’re flying first class wherever we go. In reality, we fly basic economy. And if you don’t know what that is, let me tell you. Basic economy is the absolute cheapest ticket on the flight. You are not allowed a carry-on, only a purse or small item that can fit under your seat. You have to pay to check your bags obviously.
Why do we do this? Because we pay for our flight with our credit card points and this is the biggest bang for our buck. Eventually, we will be flying first class! But for now, economy/basic economy it is. Keep in mind when you are booking your tickets, sometimes getting the economy ticket and not checking your bag is a better deal. (Side note: Barbara Corcoran does not pay for first class seats on flights. She does fly first class if someone else is paying, but if it’s her dime, she’s flying economy.) Source: So Money Podcast, if you’re not listening to this podcast religiously, you should be.
We’re also Uber/taxi people. DC does have a very easily navigated public transportation system but we just find it easier to take an Uber because most of the time we’re starting the day super early so I can get sunrise photos or it’s super late and we’re exhausted.
Where to Stay
The first time that I went to DC, we stayed at the Kimpton Lorien in Alexandria. It was amazing. Everything about this hotel was just perfect and it provides the colonial experience you expect to have in DC. There were even cobblestone streets! An advantage of staying in a suburb is that you will get to see more of the area than if you stay in the heart of D.C. where you’re doing all of your exploring.
This time, we stayed at the Kimpton Donovan in D.C. so that we were closer to all of the monuments. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t my favorite place. Full disclosure: I’m a hotel snob. I would be staying at the Four Seasons if I could afford it.
I love Kimpton hotels and we were able to get this room 30% percent off by booking so far in advance. (Another tip: book well in advance to save money!) There was nothing particularly wrong with this hotel. It was clean, the people were nice, the bed was comfortable, etc.
What I didn’t like was the room. The shower was in the middle of the room. It was very weird for me. Also, the hotel restaurant was a Japanese Sushi place. We are the type of travelers that like to go balls to the wall all day and then come back to the hotel and kick it in the hotel bar. Well this left our only option for food as sushi. Which is great for one night, but for us, not two in a row.
One of the reasons we booked this hotel was because we thought it was close to the National Mall. It wasn’t. It was still a 20 minute walk, and after walking all day, the last thing we wanted to do was walk back to our hotel. Which we did every single day.
BUT I would still recommend this hotel, just know what you’re getting before you book it. If we go again, we’ll get a hotel next to the National Mall. In my opinion, the location is worth the extra money.
Other places to stay:
- Any hotel on the National Mall. Just be aware that they are more expensive.
Where to Eat
We had asked for some recommendations on Instagram before we left and were not disappointed.
You have to go to Old Ebbitt Grill. This was the best food by far! I recommend the crab cakes. It was so fun to sit and make up stories about the other restaurant guests. Who was making shady political deals, who was there on a first date, who was a local and who was a tourist? The couple next to us were on a first date and they had met on a dating app. (I overheard them talking, I didn’t make that up!)
We stumbled upon Luke’s Lobster and it couldn’t have been more perfect! Obviously get the lobster roll but also get the lobster mac & cheese.
Honestly, we didn’t have a bad meal while we were there. Some other recommendations that were given to us but we didn’t have time to try were:
- The Eastern Market
- RiRa’s Bar
- Martin’s Tavern
What to do
My experience in D.C. has mainly involved seeing every monument and museum possible. Also, going to Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve been to D.C. twice and went to the same places and still seen things that I hadn’t before. Even if you feel like you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. There is just so much to look at.
A few places that were recommended but we didn’t have time to see:
- The Holocaust Museum
- National Cathedral
- Watching a performance at the Kennedy Center
Another thing that Michael and I like to do when we travel is to try and find the local spots. We love grabbing a beer at the local pub or else going to see a movie in a theater with the reclining seats and alcohol. (We watched the new Lara Croft movie while we were here.)
In a nutshell, that is everything that I have found to do in D.C. What are your favorite things to do? Do you have Washington DC travel guide that you recommend?