I recently had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC for a conference and I must admit that I am embarrassed to say it has been nearly 15 years since I was last there (despite it only being a 2 hour train ride away). As I stepped out of the train station I found myself looking directly at the Capitol Building, and immediately decided to walk to my hotel. Some might say this was a questionable choice since I was wearing somewhat uncomfortable shoes, but away I went. I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue past the Capitol Building, the George Gordon Meade memorial, the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, the National Archives, the Federal Trade Commission, and more as I made my way to my hotel.
While I had been walking I was quickly finding that I love Washington and felt disappointed that I had not scheduled more time to explore the city beyond the conference. I did take some time where I could to enjoy the city a bit so I thought I would share my 3 top tips for how to spend a day in Washington.
Take a walk along the National Mall and soak in all the history. There are so many monuments all along here its hard to know where to start! I would start at the Capitol Building and head towards the Washington Monument, on to the Lincoln Memorial. Make sure to stop by the numerous other monuments from the World War II Memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. This walk is beautiful during the day but the monuments are particularly exceptional at night and they have a very different feel to them when they are lit. Plus, if you get lucky (as I did) you might end up with many of these places all to yourself!
Visit a museum. Washington is filled to the brim with fabulous museums but don't try to see too many of them in one trip. You will be worn out and will not be able to devote enough time to each one to do them justice. Instead, pick one or two that truly interest you and you will enjoy the whole experience a lot more. Although picking just one or two might be pretty difficult as well! I know I want to go back for the Air and Space Museum (they have the Apollo lander and Spirit of St. Louis!) and the National Portrait Gallery. While there are a dozen others I would like to see, I am going to take it slow and actually enjoy myself!
See and be seen at The Old Ebbitt Grill, the oldest restaurant in Washington. Just around the corner from the White House, this restaurant is a famous haunt of politicians and celebrities. Though keep an eye out since locals say that there is always a spy hanging around the bar here...just listening in. I saw stop in for what is arguably the best Raw Bar in the city and as a bonus they are open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night and brunch on Sunday.
Grab a cocktail at POV, a rooftop bar overlooking the White House. The views from up here are unbeatable and definitely the perfect way to cap off a long day of sightseeing.