Washington, DC: It’s Not All Politics ~

Washington, DC has been getting more than its fair share of headlines in this time of political and seemingly social revolution.  Is there anyone in the world who does not know where Washington, DC is and/or the fact that the city is synonymous with politics?  It is after all the heart beat of the United States.  But what many may not know is that the city itself has a lot to offer.  And, while tourism to the nation’s capital may not exactly be trending right now, don’t let the politics of the day keep you from visiting.

washington DC

The Washington Monument across the tidal basin

On The Mall

One of the best aspects of Washington, DC is that it is an open city.  There are no skyscrapers.  This translates to a very open feeling as one traverses the city.  Think about it.  Walk the sidewalks of New York City and it’s a massive maze of skyscrapers in every direction leaving the visitor feeling claustrophobic and penned in.  Walk the sidewalks of Washington, DC and it’s the complete opposite, nothing but sky.  Yes, of course there are buildings, but the height of the buildings cannot be taller than the width of the right-of-way street on which a building fronts offering much more openness.  Height of Buildings Act.

No doubt, most everyone has heard of The Smithsonian Museums that line the boundaries of the mall in Washington, DC.  And, when referring to the mall, we’re not talking about shopping.  The Mall is actually a National Park right smack in the middle of downtown.  It stretches from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, a total of 1.9 miles.

washington dc

The Lincoln Memorial

It’s a beautiful walk and well-worth taking an afternoon to do so. But what everyone may not realize is that Smithsonian Museums are all free.  It’s true.  There are a plethora of museums in DC, many of which charge admission, such as the International Spy Museum, but the Smithsonians are free and they house extraordinary collections.  There are a total of 19 museums and galleries, 11 of which line the boundaries of the mall.  My personal favorite is the National Museum of American HistoryEverything imaginable is in the museum, including Julia Child’s kitchen.

The DC Metro

Finding your way around DC is easy because the city is laid out in a grid; it’s super walkable.  But, if you’re not a walker or you want to catch a ride, city buses and cabs are easily accessible as is the Metro – the city’s subway system.  The lines are color-coded which makes it easy to navigate.  Fares are reasonable, but if you’re going to be in the city for a few days or longer, it’s a good idea to buy a 3-day pass or a smartrip card, which not only saves a bit of money, but it makes getting in/out of the station that much easier when you don’t have to deal with buying tickets at each stop.

washington dc

DC Metro grid

A Two-Week Visit

It’s not an exaggeration to say that you could easily plan a 2-week visit to Washington, DC and be kept busy every moment of every day, there is that much to do and see. From touring the Capitol Building, to visiting the White House Visitor’s Center, to Ford’s Theater, to Chinatown, to all of the Smithsonians, to the National Cathedral and the National Zoo, to the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, or taking in a show at the Kennedy Center, the list of must see spots in the city is long and varied.

While it is safe to say that visiting Washington, DC is on the higher end of the $$$ scale, there is also a lot to see and do that won’t cost a dime, such as visiting the Smithson Museums, or exploring Georgetown and Chinatown, or taking a picnic lunch to the mall.  The monuments are free as well so take a walk over to the tidal basin and say hello to Thomas Jefferson.  He has a beautiful monument and the view is especially wonderful during cherry blossom season.

washington dc

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin

A Thriving Food Scene

And, don’t forget to bring your appetite because Washington, DC has a thriving food scene.  You will not go hungry with fine dining choices such as Corduroy, Old Ebbitt Grill, Rasika and Blue Duck Tavern.  Other more casual choices include Ted’s Bulletin, Matchbox Pizza and Hill Country Barbecue.  No, you definitely won’t go hungry and you’ll find something for everyone, including a DC staple, Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Don’t Let Fear Dictate

Washington, DC has it all, for young and old and those in-between.  It has a vibe like no other city and yes, it’s the political hub of the country, but that just adds to the excitement.  So be a part of it, don’t let fear dictate your life or your travel plans.  Don’t miss an opportunity to visit the epicenter of US History, you won’t be disappointed.

Washington, DC

Cherry Blossoms

Airports that service Washington, DC:

National Airport = DCA  *most convenient

Dulles International = IAD

Baltimore/Washington = BWI

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

subscribe3

6 Responses to Washington, DC: It’s Not All Politics ~

  • Patti,
    I really enjoyed D.C. when I visited for an ACCH conference over Memorial Day weekend one year. I loved the Smithsonians and, particularly, the National Museum of Natural History. The Botanic Gardens were smaller than some but still very impressive. The Viet Nam Vet Memorial Wall was incredible. The ceremony on Memorial Day was very moving and the Rolling Thunder Parade was unbelievable whe 10,000 motorcycles parade through. The Metro was cool and the Old Station at the end of one of the lines ( I spent a night or two at a,friends just a few blocks away) was beautiful. I visited the Childrens Hospital there and took alot back to The Denver Childrens Hospital where I worked for many years. I also had a great time in Georgetown. The Peoples’ House did limited tours at the time and what we saw was amazing. I walked and walked and walked a d coukd not get enough of all the City has to offer. Thanks for sharing this. It not only brought back many good memories but it made me want to plan another trip when I can explore the outlying historical areas as well.
    Gail

    • So glad you enjoyed your visit to DC – there is seemingly a never ending list of places to visit, you’ve named a few of the great ones. We too enjoy the Botanical Garden, especially at Christmas.

  • On my last visit to DC, I was accompanied by 47 8th graders. Counting heads was a big part of the day, but we did manage to see the wonderful city and have a real blast. The Holocaust Museum was heartbreaking, but the kids had read Night and were somewhat prepared. We visited the Vietnam Memorial, and it brought tears to our eyes as one of the boys found a relative. Ford’s Theater was great, and the Smithsonian was a real favorite. They even took over the coffee shop in the Air and Space for a while and entertained the rest of the guests with one of our girl’s beautiful singing. Pretty amazing week. Supreme Court, Capital, History Museum, Mount Vernon. Whew! I think they most enjoyed riding the metro line. Being from California, most had never been on an underground. I taught them how to surf the movement, as we all stood for the trip. They were awed by the many story escalator. Doesn’t take much, does it??
    A real treat.

    • Ah yes, the annual spring invasion of the 8th graders, when cherry blossoms and young love prevails – and hopefully, a little learning inspired by gifted teachers such as yourself.

  • I can say, without any hesitation, that Washington DC is one of our favorite cities in the world. We’ve made many visits over the years and last spent a day walking around the mall visiting the monuments to see the new Martin Luther King statue when we were in the US at the end of last summer. We were bummed that we missed the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture by just a few weeks so we’ll have to try to see it when we next visit. I loved your factoid about the “Height of Buildings Act” as it certainly goes a long way towards contributing to Washington DC’s charm and appeal. And, in these turbulent times and in my humble opinion, D.C. looks even more beautiful with its streets filled with thousands raising their voices in a powerful display of a democracy in action.
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba: An Architectural AllegoryMy Profile

    • It really is a very special city and I feel that even though we’ve been so many times, I know there’s so much more to explore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


We are Patti and Abi. We retired early to live a simpler life, travel the world and hopefully, inspire others to redefine retirement.

 

2 years, 199 days ago!
Subscribe via email or RSS

 

 

 

Featured On