When I was a child, my parents took us on a trip to Washington, D.C. I remember standing in front of the White House, sitting in Ford’s Theatre, and seeing Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Smithsonian. While I may not recall all of the details from this vacation, I remember being SO incredibly bored. I definitely didn’t appreciate my first trip to the Capital; however, I recently revisited, and my opinions changed. Now, I believe everyone should experience Washington, D.C. at least once.
When We Went
We ventured out to this destination in February of 2018. Even though it was a little chilly, I enjoyed visiting during this time of the year. D.C. is flooded with tourists during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring. When traveling, we usually try to avoid peak seasons if possible. We landed on a Thursday morning and left on that following Sunday.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Kimpton Carlyle Hotel Dupont Circle. I am a huge fan of the Kimpton’s boutique properties. The room was cute, clean, and cozy; however, it was a little smaller than I was anticipating. While it isn’t my favorite Kimpton Hotel, I did enjoy our stay there. This property is located in an adorable neighborhood and is close to various shops and restaurants.
What We Did
The National Mall
The first location that we visited was the National Mall and Memorial parks. This iconic area is definitely a “hub” for the city. Sites that reside along the Mall include: the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Museums, the Capitol, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial, as well as several other government buildings, museums, and tribute/remembrance statues. In addition, many popular destinations–such as The White House, Tidal Basin, and the Holocaust Museum–are within walking distance from this area. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes, though!
I absolutely love the National Mall. There are gorgeous views of Washington D.C. from every direction here. This park has been the setting for various influential events throughout history. It’s quite the experience to explore these grounds and reflect on the past. There is so much to see along the Mall and within the museums. I know we didn’t catch everything. For this reason, I would recommend allotting at least a day here. Even though we visited during the tail end of winter, we were lucky enough to witness a glimpse of some cherry blossoms blooming! That was a highlight for me.
The White House
The next morning, we toured the White House. To make our reservation, we submitted a request to our local member of Congress. I suggest doing this as soon as possible. I believe that the earliest they accept requests is 3 months prior.
This tour is self-guided. Many of the rooms available to the public aren’t utilized much anymore. For this reason, it felt like we were walking through a museum. They were setting up for a press event while we were there, and that was cool to see. Even though it was different than I expected, I still thought it was a unique experience.
My suggestions? Leave your bags at the hotel, but make sure to have a form of government-issued identification with you. The rules are strictly enforced.
Other Nearby Things to Do
After our tour, we explored some other attractions in the area. First, we visited the National Archives. This is where several historical documents/records such as the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, anda the Declaration of Independence, are preserved and displayed.
We also visited the Arlington National Cemetery. This historic cemetery is across the river, and it was well worth the steps. Here, visitors are able to pay their respects to service members as well as other pertinent political figures. For example, John F. Kennedy and his family are buried here. The cemetery is also home to various memorials and monuments, such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I really enjoyed seeing the guard changing ceremony.
Finally, we also ventured out to Georgetown during our trip. This area is a quaint shopping district with a variety of stores and food options. My favorite stop was Georgetown cupcake! I definitely have a sweet tooth, and I had a difficult time choosing.
Overall, even though I’ve never been much of a history buff, I really enjoyed my trip to our Nation’s Capital. It was awesome to learn and reflect on some pivotal moments in history. I’d like to return for another visit someday.