Washington DC the home of American politics (Hello Mr President) and home to the most amazing array of museums and impressively massive monuments! I have been lucky enough to travel to Washington a few times and each time I have found something NEW to see.
I have only ever visited Washington in the summer, when its been crazy hot & humid, so be warned if you visit from May – August, it will be hot! Its the kind of heat that slowly zaps your energy, willingness to walk and ability to find anything interesting! I live in the UK where its always cold – even in summer so maybe I struggled more than most. Walking around is the best way to see any city, just be warned!
Choosing a top 5 of anything is hard (imagine someone said choose your top 5 favourite foods ever!) but my top 5 are 5 things you could easily fit into a 3 day visit to the capital, I have also thrown in restaurant and hotel recommendations too, check out my blog ‘Eat, drink, sleep Washington DC’. Please do take time to visit the official Washington DC website, its really interesting and will give you oodles of other fun stuff to do!
My top 5 Washington DC
1. The Lincoln Memorial at 7am! I know this is an obvious one, but the difference in visiting this breathtaking giant is the time of day. At 7am on a spring/summer day, not only is it cooler but its also quiet! You really need silence to take in this magnificent monument, when reading his spine chilling speech, you are not only awestruck by history but by the monumental significance of this historical figure. Built to honor the 16th president, its located at the western end of the National Mall, pretty much opposite the Washington monument.
2. Whilst you are down that way and before the crowds, take a stroll through the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The figures moving through the Washington grassland are chillingly magical, each face etched with war and suffering. The still grey shadows make for an atmospheric stroll. Admire the statues and contemplate history.
CHEAT ALERT: (This could count to make it Top 6, but whatever) The National mall in general is a great place to visit and walk through, you will pretty much see all the highlights Washington DC has to offer. Again if you can get up early and go, it really is worth it. Be prepared to walk, its huge! Oh of course The White House – A must see but you will be underwhelmed! I have always wanted to visit the White House, this iconic house full of secrets and power but as with many things portrayed over the TV – it was so much smaller than anticipated. You can get a pretty good view of it through large metal fencing, but not a Top 5 for me.
3. Museums! With the largest museum in the world, the smithsonian could easily steal a day or even a week away from you. The museums are spread around the same area, each HUGE and INTERESTING. We chose a museum each, I chose the Air & Space museum & Him chose National Museum of American History. We only spent an hour in each one, to be honest that is usually all I can take before crowds and children get to me. Both very much worth a visit, especially the National museum of history – Fab nostalgia in life size exhibition galleries (steam trains, diners and old cars). My advice, choose a museum or two that suits everyone. Half a day should be ample! We did visit the Holocaust museum, the building itself is beautiful, but the museum however moving has very poorly displayed exhibitions, children will be bored, its pretty intense and the staff were rude!
4. Historic Georgetown. You literally cross the bridge over the Potomac River and arrive into a town full of history and very cute places to eat and be merry. Georgetown is located near to the university and has a young, vibrant feel to it. Housing very old buildings (one dating back to 1765 – I know for the USA that is old) it really has a quaint feel and kind of reminds me of a town in the UK. Just stroll around, take in the buildings and participate in some retail therapy. It does get busy here, be warned!
5. Stanton Park! Time to take it easy and see some greenery. We love green spaces and always dig out green when we are in a city. Stanton Park is one of 8 parks around Washington DC and is located in the capitol hill neighborhood between 4th & 6th street NE. Its worth grabbing some lunch and taking a couple of hours out of your day to sit and appreciate the space around you. Full of cherry blossom trees, a statue of a war veteran and a playground for small people, its a fab haven for escaping the crowds of The National Mall and the city in general.
Washington DC will always have a place in my heart, its full of history, museums, monuments, great places to eat and has the buzz of a big city. I am sure we will be back, after all there are about another 28 museums to conquer……