A good trip always starts with purchasing a new pair of sneakers, and Washington D.C. definitely helped me break them in.
My only regret? Wearing a flowy dress. Did you know that D.C. has vents on the sidewalk that blow air up? I pulled an involuntary Marilyn Monroe. And since I didn’t do Marilyn any justice (I don’t think she screamed “OH MY LAWD” when her dress flew up), our trip could only get better from there.
So here’s some of the places I visited in Washington D.C. I’ll start with my favorites, but I really love them all. And if you want more ideas on places to go, check out the city guide and photo gallery.
Disclaimer: I’m a graphic designer and art enthusiast so I started there first. If you’re a history buff or science aficionado, make sure you check out the history and science stuff first when you visit D.C.
Art & Aesthetics
The Renwick Gallery has exceeded my expectations both times I’ve visited. They currently have an exhibit called “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” based on the annual gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert where large art sculptures are created and ceremoniously burned to the ground. I think the interactive art is what made this place number one on my list for my favorite things to do in D.C. They have giant colorful mushrooms that open and close when you step on a circle on the ground. You can’t beat that. Check here for the current exhibitions at the gallery.
National Gallery of Art
This is one of the most beautiful places in D.C. There’s all kinds of art for all kinds of people. They also have a sculpture garden where they have Jazz in the Garden during certain times of the year. They also have six cafes, including an espresso and gelato bar (just when you thought art couldn’t get any better). Give yourself a lot of time for the visit — you’re going to need it.
The art at Hirshhorn is different. It’s unlike anything you’ll see in the National Gallery of Art. It’s unique, off the wall, out of the box — you get the point. Some pieces might leave you feeling surprised and uncomfortable, so be careful when you cut around the corners. You never know when you’ll run into a large, naked, sulking man statue. I learned the hard way.
Just for Fun
This is one of the coolest places in D.C. Not to mention you can complete your stroll with a cereal milk latte or ice cream from Momofuku Milk Bar or a gelato from Dolcezza. CityCenterDC has high end stores, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, which make it the perfect place to go window shopping while you grab a bite to eat.
I think this is the most underrated place in D.C. When I was researching on Pinterest for the trip, I only ran across one pin for this. This deserves one million gazillion pins. It’s like New York’s Grand Central Station on a smaller D.C. scale. And you can get a macaron from Ladurée to compliment all the people watching you’ll want to do while you’re there.
There’s no charm in D.C. like that of Georgetown. It gives the grandeur of the capital a small town feel with shops lined along the street. Don’t miss out on District Donut located on Cady’s Alley or Georgetown Cupcakes from the TLC show. And if you’re a Madewell fan, you’ll fall in love with the storefront in Georgetown. This is the place to get the souvenirs.
United States Botanic Garden
This place was a lot smaller and more beautiful than I had in mind. This isn’t on my you-have-to-go-here list for D.C., but if you have some extra time, I highly recommend giving this place a visit — especially if you’re a plant person.
Don’t go here expecting New York City’s Chinatown. Think all American things, just with Chinese subtitles. I’m sure there are a few Chinese places worth going to in the area, but unless you are just dying to know how “Smoothie King” looks in Chinese, do yourself a favor and head on over to Laoban Dumplings on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Historical and Science Things
Arlington Cemetery & Changing of the Guard
This is definitely number one on my if-you’re-an-American-and-visit-D.C.-you-have-to-go-here list. Watching the changing of the guard is an unreal experience. I’ve never seen a group of people so reverent. The guards change every half hour. It’s a little bit of a drive from the middle of D.C. to Arlington but well worth the visit.
Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial & Washington Monument
Time to break out those new walking shoes. These three are all in the same area and all within (a very long) walking distance from each other. My personal favorite is the Lincoln Memorial. He’s kind of ginormous.
The White House
This is a must if you’re in D.C. I didn’t give the White House such good reviews in my last article, but I think it was harder to enjoy in the freezing rain and wet socks. The White House is beautiful, and the protester’s signs will have you questioning your faith in the the American school system’s courses on grammar.
National Archives Museum
Last time I visited this place, I had to wait in a long line in the pouring, freezing rain with a man yelling at me to buy one of his umbrellas (while I was using my umbrella). So to say that this experience was better is a huge understatement. I’m still impressed with the penmanship on the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
Library of Congress
This is a quick visit. Whatever you do, do not take photos while standing on the stairs inside the library. You will get yelled at.
Air and Space Museum
Okay, time to nerd out. This is one of my least favorite places to go in D.C., but a lot of people like it so what do I know? I really only care to see a plane if I’m boarding it to go to a tropical or European destination. But it is pretty neat to learn about the history behind the guys who took the first flight.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
We really only went here to see the dinosaurs. They have tarantula feedings if you’re into that kind of thing. Not my cup of tea. But I’m sure a lot of people love it. My favorite part was the huge elephant statue in the middle of the museum.