For years I’ve lived in Manhattan, just a four-hour drive from Washington D.C., but I’ve always overlooked it when considering travel destination. D.C. is definitely among the most important cities in the US, but it always felt more like a place to spend a school field trip than an adult getaway.
But a long weekend in the Capital proved to me that Washington D.C. is a lively and lovely town that boasts all the charm of a metropolis at a fraction of the cost. Washington D.C. has history, culture, and several fun things to do for a perfect weekend getaway.
HOW TO GET TO WASHINGTON D.C.?
- Several budget bus lines offer service to D.C. on air-conditioned, wifi-equipped coach buses from many destinations on the east coast. This is the most affordable way to get to D.C. but allow extra time for traffic.
- Dulles International Airport is 26 miles from downtown and is the major airport.
- Amtrak offers service to D.C.
WHAT TO PACK?
Rent the Runway has a store in Georgetown, which means members can pop in and basically shop for free! You can pack only your essentials, shoes, and workout clothes and pick up dresses and co-ords for the weekend at RTR!
WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON D.C.?
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar D.C. has the perfect location in Dupont Circle. This hotel has spacious rooms, a complimentary wine hour daily, and a lovely little outdoor pool in case you need to lounge after all that walking up and down The Mall.
Other well-reviewed hotels in Washington D.C. include:
For the perfect welcome to Washington, lace up your running shoes! There’s a reason why every political drama and film shows people running in D.C.
The National Mall is one of the most beautifully laid out parks and the perfect place to get some exercise while going on a mini-tour of the best sites of the city. You can loop around the mall, monuments, and Tidal Basin for as little or long as you please, running, jogging, or even walking.
The Tidal Basin is a 1.7-mile loop that will take you past the Jefferson Memorial and the MLK Statue, to name a few highlights. Add a loop around the Constitutional Gardens to get a view of the Lincoln Memorial. If you’re really advantageous, the Rock Creek trail from there will take you right into Georgetown.
Grab a quick bite post-run at Emissary, right across from the hotel. They have great coffee and healthy, Aussie style breakfast options that will have you fueled up for the museum marathon about to happen.
Head to the Mall
The Smithsonian Institute owns and operates several of the Museums on the Mall. They are free, open every day from 10 am – 5:30 pm except Christmas, and full of incredible treasures.
Even if you’re not typically a museum person, there is something from you. From dinosaur fossils to the first airplane, to Micheal Jordan’s jersey – each museum is worth at least a short tour.
The museums actually have a twenty-minute highlights tour that shows you the most interesting pieces, and there are a dozen to pick from but here are some of my favorites:
- Smithsonian Museum of American History
- The first telephone and lightbulb, Julia Child’s Kitchen, The Batmobile, the Ruby Slippers …the American History Museum are the perfect museums for people who don’t like Museums. Full of thousands of important items throughout history, it almost feels like you’re visiting the most eclectic and interesting garage sale of your life. This is an absolute must.
- Natural History Museum
- Marvel at the Hope Diamond, turn your face in a Caveman, and wander through the newly renovated Fossil Hall opened in June of 2019 and promises to wow explorers of every age.
- Air + Space Museum
- Pop in to see the Spirit of Adventure, the Wright Brothers flier, rockets that went to the moon and of course, get some astronaut ice cream at the gift shop.
All the museums have cafes inside, but the American Indian Museum is known to have some of the best eats on The Mall. There is also a line of food trucks offering quick, cheap bites you can enjoy with a view of the Capitol Building.
Georgetown is no doubt Washington’s most charming neighborhood. Wander through the cobblestone streets and take in the rich history of the houses on the street – you can find walking tour books, online guides, or just enjoy the architecture and skip the stories.
In addition to boutiques, main street shops, and several cute bakeries are a slew of delicious restaurants to choose from.
For a quick and cheap bite head to Chaia Tacos, a vegetarian farm-to-table concept tucked away by the waterfront. For under $25 you can get a trio of inventive tacos, fresh-made chips and dip, and a glass of rose!
If a more fancy meal is calling your name head to Martins Tavern, a Georgetown iconic spot in its 4th generation of ownership. JFK proposed to Jackie here, every president has dined in one of their booths, and the menu of classic, hearty fare is unchanged. Try their famous oyster stew!
For dessert, head to local-favorite Baked + Wired for DC’s best and biggest cupcakes. The inventive, decadent flavors here blow the nearby famous completion out of the water. Half bakery, half coffee bar, you can sit with your goodies between the two sides and have a very sweet ending to the day.
Brunch is on, and DC’s game is strong! Head to the Unconventional Diner to start your morning with a brunch you won’t forget. Mile-high blueberry pancakes, biscuit eggs benny, a dirty caesar breakfast salad, and a malted oreo milkshake are just some of the stand out items on this menu!
After breakfast head back to National Portrait Gallery to see the way the President’s took selfies before the iPhone existed. The standout of the gallery is, of course, the latest additions of Michelle and Barak Obama, painted by Kehinde Wiley. Go pay tribute to al the founding fathers in the Hall of Presidents.
Yesterday you marveled at the past, and today it’s time to reflect on it.
The African American History Museum is the newest addition to the Mall and is an absolute must to visit. Demand is high, so to visit you must either book ahead several weeks out online or join the standby line from 1-3 pm daily outside the museum.
Allow several hours to visit all four floors, taking you from the history of the African Slave Trade all the way to the modern African American culture gallery on the top. You will want to read every single plaque, so start at the bottom and work your way up.
The cafe inside the museum, Home Sweet Home, has an incredible selection of soul food – including barbecue, red velvet cake, hush puppies, and gumbo. Plan on having lunch here when you enter to fuel up and explore the galleries.
Another museum to not miss is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum a little off the mall. This powerful museum will give you an in-depth history of the Holocaust from the beginning to interviews with survivors today.
Leave the Mall and head up Pennsylvania Avenue to get to dinner at Founding Farmers. Think of this place as a more charming local version of the Cheesecake Factory. Absolutely everything on the enormous menu sounds amazing, including their massive desserts. Start with the dips and chips and end with the butter cake and you won’t regret a single calorie.
You’re going to need to walk off that meal, so head back to the mall after dark and join the hundreds of people taking in the monuments at night. If your feet are tired – hop on one of the many electric scooters the city has to offer and cruise around enjoying the spotlit monuments, which look completely different in the spotlight.
For one last meal and to grab some good reading material for the trip back, head to Kramer Books & Afterward Cafe just a short walk from the hotel. They have seasonal dishes and a fantastic curation of books.
Enjoy your weekend in America’s Capital, soaking up the history that makes Washington D.C. such a special place for a weekend getaway!
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Washington D.C. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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Our Top Places In Washington, D.C.:
- Kimpton Hotel Palomar D.C.
- Avenue Suites Georgetown
- Eaton DC
- Four Seasons
- The Fairmont
- Find the best price on hotels near Washington D.C., USA
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