So, you’re heading to our country’s capital to see where all the lawmakers are supposedly “working.” Then you realize that every American here wants to see the same tourist traps that are on everyone’s must-see bucket list. If you suddenly got turned off to visiting D.C., I don’t blame you…
But wait, there’s still hope! I recommend that you visit all those touristy traps in one foul swoop: one long, tiresome day of postcard pictures that you can show to your family when they ask if you saw *insert D.C. monument here.* Then you can explore the city and surrounding areas away from all the families in matching t-shirts for the remainder of your trip! How can you fit it all in? Here’s what I recommend for your one day experience of all things Washington D.C.
In the morning
We aren’t all morning people, but it does help to beat the crowds, especially during the summer. I recommend putting on those walking shoes at around 8am and getting on the subway to get to National Mall. Once you get off the subway, it drops you off right in the middle of the National Mall, which is where all of Washington D.C’s greatest hits are located.
Start heading towards the Lincoln Memorial, and on the way you’ll pass the Washington Monument as well as walk through the World War II memorial. While walking past the Reflecting Pool, make sure to look back at the Washington Monument to see its reflection in the water (it’s a lot cooler than it sounds, trust me). When you get up to the Lincoln Monument, you’ll be able to see a whole lot of the National Mall. As you venture back towards the Washington Monument again, you can take paths on either side to see various memorials for past presidents and other cool people (Albert Einstein, John Ericsson, etc.)
Now that you feel like you’ve walked all that you can for the day (and it’s only noon), I recommend refueling at one of the food carts that are stationed on the side streets. Trust me, they are not as sketchy as they seem (I did not die after eating from them, and my hot dog was pretty good!). If you are feeling less adventurous, you can head inside the Smithsonian, our next stop, for some expensive-ish museum food.
For the afternoon
Now that you are all fueled up, our next stop is the Smithsonian, a group of museums that are completely free to the public. They range in topics from your typical Natural History Museum, featured in Night at the Museum, to Air and Space Museum, to the Art Museum. Pick any of the museums and you’ll be in for a treat.
To finish your trip, start walking towards the White House. Here you can stand about 20 ft away from the gates of the White House and see that it does, in fact, look just like the pictures. After that, you can head towards the capitol building and head inside to look at some amazing architecture and just about all the marble you can imagine.
At this point, you’re probably starving again (at least I was). There are many cute cafes around this end of Washington D.C., so feel free to find one that suits you and enjoy some much needed sitting food.
By the end of the day, you may be extremely tired and just dying to go back to your hotel room to get some much-deserved rest. You have officially seen the bucket list items of Washington D.C. in just one day. Hopefully, you are able to enjoy the capital as much as I did without spending any extra money or time than you needed!
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