During our 10-day trip to New York, we also went to Washington DC. It’s just a four-hour drive from New York, and of course the capital and the political center of the United States. So definitely worth a visit if you have the time. We only had one full day in DC (that’s how the locals call it, and so do we now). We couldn’t see everything, but I will tell you all about the things we did do.
We took the bus from NY to DC, which was cheap and easy. When we arrived to DC it was such a different feeling compared to New York. It was less touristic and much more quiet and relaxed. You see office buildings and government vehicles everywhere, and all the streets and parks are named after someone famous, or someone who meant a lot for the history in the US.
The White House
DC is of course known for the White House, and the monuments and memorials. All the monuments and memorials are free and open to the public for 24 hours. Most museums are free too. As you might know, Dutch people love everything that’s for free (gratis).
We arrived in the evening, but immediately went for a walk to the White House, even though it was already dark, we were too curious.
When I saw The House for the first time I felt a little bit surprised, it looked small. In my imagination it was much bigger. But at the same time it felt like we visited it already before. It looked familiar, because we see it all the time in the news or the movies. Even now, when the White House comes up in the news, I scream to Youness: ‘Look! That’s where we stood!’ And this happens a lot..
It is possible to do a tour in the White House. If you’re not an American resident, you have to contact your embassy in DC. The process can take up to six months, so you have to book early. Otherwise you just do it the ‘old fashion’ way like we did; someone taking a picture of us in front of the gate.
Abraham Lincoln Memorial
The next morning we went to the National Mall, where all the famous monuments and memorials are. First we visited the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, which was built to honor the 16th President of the United States. An impressive building, that looks like a Greek temple, with large pillars and high steps. The large sculpture of Abraham Lincoln contains inscriptions of his speeches, among others his most famous speech: the Gettysburg Address.
The Washington Monument
From the steps you can see the reflection in the pool of the Washington Monument, otherwise known as The Pencil. It was built to honor George Washington, the first president of the US. The monument is made of marble, granite and bluestone gneiss and with its 555 feet (almost 170 meters), it’s the world’s tallest obelisk. It’s built in Egyptian style, with a small pyramid on top (a pyramidion). If you’d like it is possible to visit the top of the monument.
The U.S. Capitol Building
You would think that the U.S. Capitol Building is near the White House, but to our surprise is was quite a walk. Here is where the business of DC happens. Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside, because we didn’t book any tickets.
But it is possible to get really close to the building and sit on the steps to enjoy the view of the garden. If you would like to visit it, then go to this website for more information and tickets. Even from the outside it looks impressive, with its big dome.
Where to stay?
We stayed for two nights in an AirBnb, so we could spend one full day in DC. I would recommend you to stay in an AirBnb too. DC isn’t cheap. There are not many hostels, and hotels under $100 dollar are really difficult to find. Most hotels are way overpriced, perhaps because all the businesspeople and people who work for the government don’t need to think about prices when they book a hotel. So there’s not any concurrence.
We stayed near Colombia Heights, near Colombia Rd. It was a little bit outside of the city center, but with everything still in walking distance. Other good areas are (of course) Downtown, Chinatown and Dupont Circle.
How to get there and to get around?
Like I mentioned before, we went by bus. If you’re coming from a city nearby, then the bus or train into Union Station is easy. From there you can take the metro to the city center.
We found it easy to walk everywhere, even though our AirBnb wasn’t too close to the city center. Besides walking it is easy to get around Washington DC through public transport. There are buses everywhere, and 6 major metro lines. You can find the maps of the routes in every station. Or just use Google Maps. It’s also possible to rent a bike, but you have to be a little bit carefull with all the cars.
There are many other things to do in DC. Here’s a list of things we didn’t get the change to.
- National Gallery of Art
- U.S. Botanic Garden
- National Air and Space Museum
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Museum of the American Indian
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Smithsonian Institution Information Center in the Castle
- Great Falls, a large waterfall area located on the Potomac River just 30 minutes outside of the city. The hiking trails vary from flat and easy to rocky and challenging.
- In spring, in March or April, you can experience the famous Cherry Blossom Festival. Then DC turn pastel, pink and white during the peak of the blooming season. I would love to see that.
What do you think of Washington DC? And do you have any tips for a visit? We’d love to hear them!
Airbnb discount code
Do you also want to book an Airbnb? Register for Airbnb via my friends link, and get € 25 off your first trip.
Click on the link or copy the address in your browser. If you book a trip of € 65 or more, I also get € 15 in travel credit.