Winnie’s Favorite Tips for Washington D.C. Trips
Although we’ve just experienced an historic blizzard, spring is just around the corner for Washington D.C.! Now is the perfect time to plan a family vacation or group field trip to see the iconic, ADMISSION FREE monuments and memorials of the U.S. capital.
With so much history packed into one city, it’s important to be strategic with your time. Here are my top tips to help you get the most out of your D.C. visit!
- Don’t Forget about the Basics!
When you visit Washington D.C., the National Mall and all of its monuments are a must see. But keep in mind that many of D.C.’s sites are located in “food deserts.” Be sure to pack snacks and water for your excursions!
You can also plan your Monument sightseeing route so that you are closer to restaurants when you’re ready for lunch. Two of my favorite walking routes are:
- Reflecting Pool – Vietnam Veterans Memorial to Lincoln Memorial (don’t miss the museum below the steps!) to Korean War Veterans Memorial to WWII Memorial to Washington Monument.
To cut down on walking, jump on the D.C. Circulator for $1. Either way, comfortable shoes are a must!
- Plan Museum Visits in Advance, and Include Outdoor Breaks
The Smithsonian Institution has 13 museums around or near the National Mall. They are all FREE, but a common mistake is to try to see everything in every museum. Be selective, so you can savor the destinations you choose to visit. I recommend the Smithsonian website to help pick which museums and exhibits most interest you.
My ideal day of museum hopping:
- Start at the American History Museum, visiting Julia Child’s Kitchen and the America on the Move exhibit (awesome classic cars!), plus check out the original Star Spangled Banner.
- From there, walk to the National Gallery Sculpture Garden; it has amazing pieces and a beautiful fountain, a great place to relax and people-watch.
- Then, walk into the Penn Quarter neighborhood for lots of delicious food choices. I love China Chilcano for a sit-down meal, but there are also many great quick-service options like &Pizza, District Taco and Merzi.
- Finally, visit the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. These smaller museums are connected and have lovely collections.
Between your museum visits, spend some time outside. The fresh air makes a huge difference in your stamina!
One great way to spend an afternoon outside is by Boating in D.C. The Key Bridge Boathouse, conveniently located near Georgetown, offers affordable kayak and stand-up paddle rentals starting in April.
- Venture “Off-Mall” If You Have Time
Lastly, we have a new baby panda (Bei Bei) at The National Zoo. He joins a two-year-old sister, Bao Bao, so a visit to the Panda House is a must. Admission is free!
Where to Stay:
Check out all of the Hilton hotel options in the DMV region, here.