With more than 22 million visitors in 2017, it's safe to say that D.C. is a great place for tourists to sightsee, explore, have fun, and learn about all the Nation's capitol has to offer. These tips are great guides for how to navigate this amazing city and really get the most out of going to D.C.
Plan your transportation beforehand.
This map of the D.C. Metrorail is available in all Metro Stations when planning out your trip.
Traveling via the D.C. Metro system is a great (and cheap!) option for people who are somewhat familiar with the layout of the city. However, don't fret! Riding the metro isn't as confusing as the map might make it seem, and it's a quick way to get from point A to point B for a few dollars. I would recommended a Metrorail Pocket Guide, which tells you which Metro Station is closest to the most popular points of interest in the District. Also, using websites like Trip Planner will tell you how to get around DC using public transit.
A few things to note about the metro are:
- Certain times of day are more expensive (peak times) a certain stations than others (off peak times), often by a few cents more.
- If you aren't traveling on a weekday, be aware that weekends are typically for maintenance which could lead to delays in your trip.
- STAND ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ESCALATOR. Please, for your own sake, adhere to the right side. Busy Metro Riders WILL bombard you if you occupy the left side of the escalator and happen to be in their way.
- If you're riding Metro to and from a popular event in which the Metro will receive many riders, it's best to put enough fare on your card to get back aboard metro to avoid long fare lines at the conclusion of the event.
Good food doesn't always have to be expensive.
L'Enfant Plaza has a bustling food truck scene during lunch times on weekdays with diverse food and great prices.
One thing about the District to note is its incredible diversity. This diversity is reflected is a food truck scene that is second to none, where you can find everything from Turkish food to Tex-Mex all on the same street. You may hear a lot about the extremely good, but arguably overpriced food joints that D.C. has to offer, like Shake Shack (where one sandwich can cost upwards of $8) and Milk Bar (where a small ice cream is $7). While these places offer pretty good bites, the vast amounts of food trucks offer unbelievable meals and outstanding portions for half the price of the alternatives.
My favorite place to eat when I'm in D.C. during the week are the food trucks outside the L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station, which is smack-dab in the middle of 5 different Metro lines (So if you're traveling via Metro, see if you'll be passing through!). I recall getting an amazing deal of $8 for 3 humungous tacos, which I personalized from the food truck's comprehensive menu of options. Lunch time will never be the same after you experience this.
D.C. has much to offer in many different neighborhoods.
It's often easiest (and cheapest) to stay within a certain vicinity and do events in proximal neighborhoods.
Although D.C. is only 61 miles of land in its entirety, it can be pretty expansive to those who are unfamiliar. Within its 8 different wards, D.C. is divided into many different neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have many different attractions in particular, such as Georgetown with its Federal-style architecture and beautiful view of the Potomac River, or Woodley Park with its urban hiking and biking trails.
For the sake of ease (and money), I would recommend checking out what attractions are popular or intriguing at the specific neighborhood (or surrounding 'hoods) that you are going to. This will help ensure that you're not planning to do events in neighborhoods with a great distance in between and will save you some dollars in transportation from attraction to attraction.
Some of the coolest exhibits are seasonal.
Not all exhibits are permanent, like this LEGO one by Ai WeiWei, that was at the Hirshhorn from July 2017 to January 2018.
Not everything is there to stay in the District! Often times, exhibits at museums, sculptures in public spaces, and bigger events like festivals and celebrations are only happening for a short amount of time. If something sparks your interest and you want to be sure not to miss it, a quick Google search should yield the duration of the exhibit or event so you can be aware of how long you have to see it until something leaves the District.
However, this is perhaps one of the best things about the District! Frequently, museums (like my favorite art museum, the Hirshhorn) have collections that change every few months, so there's always something new to see!
Bring your camera & wear a cute outfit!
You can never go wrong with a cute outfit and a beautiful city as your backdrop.
How can I write about D.C. without mentioning all the amazing Instagram-worty photo ops? D.C. is practically brimming with ideal photo locations and amazing scenery! Whether you're pretending to pinch the top of the Washington Monument, imitating Dr. Martin Luther King's power stance, or sitting at the foot of Abe Lincoln, you don't want to be the one to miss an opportunity to strike a pose. For those especially seasoned photographers, you'll definitely want to bring your camera to snap amazing photographs of some of the most beautiful and historically influential architecture.
It's best to dress comfortably, as it's very typical to be doing lots of walking while in the District. However, a well-fitting jacket and swapping those sweatpants for a nice pair of jeans will definitely go a long way in getting those well deserved Instagram likes.