Travel :: Visiting Washington, DC

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One of my favorite places my husband and I have lived over the years was Washington, DC. The Capitol is one of my favorite spots in the entire city, but I may be a bit biased since I interned and worked for a Congressman there. That experience gave me the opportunity to visit a lot of places I may not have seen in our 2 years there.

I also learned how to get the better tours (in my opinion) for many of the big sites because I actually scheduled them for my boss' constituents. I also gave private tours of the Capitol which is the best way to see it. So if you're heading to DC anytime soon, definitely don't miss this!


If you're not visiting DC anytime soon, there are some old photos here you might get a kick out of!

Monuments

The Capitol Building

My favorite building in all of DC! The best way to see this is to call your local Congressman or Senator and schedule a free tour with one of their interns or staff members. Times are flexible and instead of a 20-30 person group tour, its usually just your small group and maybe another family if you're there in the summer. Don't get me wrong, sometimes interns are not good at these tours and they can be awkward. But it will still be better than the group tour and if you meet in the lawmaker's office, you'll get to see the underground that connects all of the House and Senate office buildings to the Capitol.

Yikes, old picture! This is in the crypt below the Capitol dome. The star I'm standing on is the center of DC!

The White House

These tours are tough to get, but if you plan in advance and don't have anything on your record, you should be able to get in. You can schedule these through your Congressman or Senator but they will need your social security number for the background check. Give them a bunch of days as options to increase your chances of getting approved. They used to request tours up to 6 months in advance but you wouldn't find out until a month or two before if you got in, I'm assuming that is still the policy but check with your local lawmaker's office. Personally I thought the White House tour was so-so until we went during Christmastime and all the decor was beautiful!


Another tour to look out for, which is better than you would think, is the White House Garden tour that happens in both the Fall and Spring. You get to walk around the gardens that face the Washington Monument, take photos (you can't take them on the inside tour) and see the Rose Garden.


The Washington Monument


This was shut down after the earthquake but it's open now so make sure you order tickets online. It will save you time and I really enjoyed seeing DC from the top! My husband was planning to propose next to the Washington Monument but I complained I was too cold and wanted to go home... ha!


Jefferson Memorial

One of my favorite stops in DC, especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival! If you come in the Spring, bring your patience because its packed by the Cherry Blossoms but so worth it! Walk around the entire tidal basin if you can and take a paddle boat ride. So fun!


Whoa short hair!

Lincoln Monument & War Memorials

I'm clumping these together because they are all right next to each other and they are all a must see. The Lincoln is especially beautiful at night! Don't expect to walk from the Lincoln to the Capitol unless you don't mind walking 2 miles, it looks closer than it actually is!

Arlington Cemetery

If you have time, it's definitely worth stopping at Arlington Cemetery. We saw the change of the guard and walked around the grounds before snapping this picture with a view.



The Library of Congress

If you're not that into books its okay, I would just go to the LOC for the architecture. It's such a beautiful building on the inside. I wish I had gone to the main areas more often, but working on "the Hill" meant sometimes I was doing research in the lower, ugly levels of the LOC. Not as cool, let me tell you.

Museums

I won't go into detail but some of my favorites were the American History Museum (to see Dorothy's ruby slippers), Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (to see the Hope diamond), the Air and Space Museum, and the Portrait Gallery.

Restaurants/Cafes

Old Ebbit Grille

One of my favorite restaurants in the city, just a block from the White House. It's historic and has delicious food, I've never been disappointed with a meal there. My favorites were the crabcakes! Fun fact: We had dinner there the night my husband proposed! 

Chef Geoffs

This is also near the White House and has really great prices (for DC) and delicious food. They have great happy hour specials and even have them on the weekends.

Baked and Wired

This place is super trendy, I almost wasn't hipster enough to be in there but I went anyway. You can get coffee, cupcakes and pastries. P.S. the cupcakes have bad ass names. 

Georgetown Cupcake 

As a certified cupcake tester (I wish), I think these are delicious cupcakes. However, waiting in that line and paying that much for them isn't cool. So unless you really want to try it because of the TV show, I'd skip GC or at least order online so you can skip the line and just pick up your cupcakes!

Farmers and Fishers

This is also in Georgetown, right down by the waterfront. It's casual, has decent prices and a fun menu, and good food. I've never been for brunch but I hear its great!

La Bettola Italiano

This isn't actually in DC, its in Arlington but just across the river. It's one of my absolute favorite restaurants of all time and I miss it! It's rarely busy which we never understood because its so good, kind of one of those hole-in-the-wall tiny Italian places. Baked pasta + house wine = perfect night.

Drinks

Happy hour is big in DC, it basically the only time I went out for drinks if I got off work early enough. Everything is expensive so if you can grab a cocktail during happy hour your wallet will thank you! I loved going to the Georgetown Waterfront for drinks but there are so many places to choose from. I also loved La Tasca for their sangria (Blanca is my fave) and tapas.
 
If you want to get out of the city, head out about an hour from downtown to the wineries. It's beautiful, especially in the Fall, and the wine is so delish! My favorites are Barrel Oak Winery and Aspen Dale Winery. You can bring your fur child to both!


Shopping

If you don't mind the high taxes, head to Georgetown or the Downtown/Chinatown area for shopping in DC. 

You can see more pictures from my last trip to DC here! Spoiler alert: I went to a lot of the restaurants and wineries then!

Anyone else have any favorites in the DC area? If anyone is visiting DC, feel free to ask me if you have any questions and hopefully I can answer them!

12 comments:

  1. Love your list lady. I live right outside DC and I love it. There is just SOOOO much to do!

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  2. Absolutely love DC... my in-laws live there and I always get so excited to go visit them. No matter how many times we visit, I will never get sick of the Jefferson Memorial! BUTTT the only time I have never been is the Spring - I must go!!

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  3. I had no idea you could go to the top of the Washington Monument! So cool. My best friend is living in DC this summer and I wanted so badly to go visit her since I've never been but it just didn't work out. This post has definitely made me bump the city up in our travel list!

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  4. We were in DC a few years ago for literally a day - not even a night, too - picking up my husband's car he had bought (long trip to say the least). Luckily it was cherry blossom season but we didn't get to see nearly what we would have liked! Next time - and I'm bringing this link ;)

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  5. DC is such an amazing city. You did an awesome recap. Great pics!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle
    acutelifestyle.blogspot.com

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  6. This is a great, great list! All of my favorites are included. 100% agree with the Lincoln at night and the Jefferson during the cherry blossoms. Of course, like you said, gotta have patience. I have never seen DC more packed than during the cherry blossoms blooming- and I've been to an inauguration!!! Crazy.

    I thought the white house tour was a giant let down personally. They showed us approximately two rooms and then it was over. Womp womp.

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  7. fun!! i havent been to DC since college (I went with friends for spring break sophomore year) but i really want to go back for the cherry blossoms someday! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  8. I'm in the DC area so I loved this post :) I try not to like Georgetown Cupcakes because they're so hyped, but every time I have one they are so, so good- we usually go to the Bethesda location to skip the line though! It must have been amazing to see the White House at Christmas time! I've done the garden tour before and prefer that to the inside tour! That looks like a gorgeous winery- I am definitely going to check out your recommendations!

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  9. Such a great post!! I swear if I didn't live in Boston I'd live in DC - it's one of my favorite cities!! And after watching House of Cards I pretty much want to live there lol!!

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  10. I absolutely love DC too! Those Georgetown cupcakes are delicious and totally worth the wait!

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  11. I can't get over how short your hair was!! I want to go to DC to try Georgetown Cupcakes! I used to love watching that show on TLC! Can't to see you tonight! Life as I know it

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  12. I haven't been to DC since I was a young kid and would love to go back now as an adult!! Those cupcakes look unbelievable!

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