Hanging Out in Washington DC

I've done a lot of traveling around the world in the last 6ish years, having seen many of the great capital cities in the world, however I've skipped my own country's capital for the lure of more exotic places on other continents. With that said, my fiancee and I had a little break and wanted to go get out and travel so we decided Washington DC was a perfect choice for a little spring break adventure.

The US capital and surrounding area is absolutely loaded with things to do for tourists of all types and we found that four full days was really not even close to enough to do everything that in the area. Throughout the following sections, I'll show you what we did and offer some tips so you can plan a perfect DC getaway.

First off, Washington has three airports - so if you're booking a flight pay close attention to which one you're flying in to. Reagan National is a great choice as it's only a few miles from the heart of the city and is easily connected by a couple of metro lines as well as a rental car center in one of its terminals.

DC is a huge metropolis, and while it is linked very well through six different metro lines, we quickly found that everything you want to see is very spread out and requires a LOT of walking. Even the National Mall, which has dozens of sights worth seeing, takes hours to go from one end to the other, especially if you're stopping at the landmarks and museums along the way. Bring good shoes, and even then, be prepared for some blisters and tired feet! I can't emphasize this enough - we heard so many people complaining of sore feet in just 4 days. Speaking of the National Mall, it is basically a must to see the landmarks/building at least once by day, and again by night for a completely different perspective. 

Plan out any of the tours you'd like in advance - way in advance if possible. For the White House and Capitol Building tours, you'll have to go through the office of one of your local senators. Get in contact with them months in advance. We allowed more than three months and were still denied a tour of the White House and it was only by the help of a friendly staffer that we were able to get a tour of the Capitol. The same can be said for the Washington Monument - get your tickets online in advance (they're free) or plan on waiting in line at 7AM outside the lodge to even have a chance of getting a trip up to the top. You can also take a tour of the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot and the building across the street where he died. We opted not to take the tours and just pass by for lack of time. 

One of the highlights for me was getting to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom around the tidal basin. I was so blessed and fortunate to be there for this and cross it off my bucket list. 

The museums are cool, but I felt that they were targeted more at younger kids. That and I've decided I'm just not a huge museum guy to begin with. There was some cool stuff in the National Air and Space Museum, but not quite what I was expecting. The Museum of Natural History has dinosaurs, the Hope Diamond and a decent butterfly garden. Don't get me wrong, they're worth stops, but you don't need half a day for these places. 

While DC itself has many fantastic sights, some of the must do things while in the area require a bit more of a trek. I highly recommend making it to Mount Vernon - the old home of George Washington. It's just a ways out from the beautiful colonial city of Alexandria and can be reached by a combo of bus/metro or by renting a car (which is what we did). By your tickets online to skip the lines and enjoy the beautifully preserved history of one of America's most influential men. Allow yourself a couple hours to really enjoy the premises and take it all in.

If you have a vehicle, I highly recommend making the 90 minute trip to Gettysburg. This was easily one of the most special places I've been to Stateside. You can do the auto tour of the battle fields in the National Military Park for free in 2-4 hours and really get launched back into history. It's a special place and truly hallowed ground. You can even stand where Abe Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, which is located in a cemetery not too far from where Picket's charge went down.

If you plan it out right, you can easily do Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg and throw in a brief stop at Great Falls National Park in one long but unforgettable day. 

Washington DC is a culturally loaded with fun ethnic restaurants and just a buzzing energy both day and night. Experiencing the historical significance of the landmarks, all the while being only minutes away from breathtaking natural beauty put America's capital in a rather unique spot that should be on every traveler's list. DC has more to do than you probably have time for which makes researching in advance important. Have a good idea what you want to see and do, so as to not waste your precious minutes in the city.

Want any more tips or have any questions? Let me know in the comments. For more photos from the trip follow my photography website at www.adamsmithphotographywi.com 

1 comment:

  1. The pictures lokk beautiful.