Alright, so we just took our first trip to Washington DC. As much fun as we had things definitely could have gone smoother. I didn’t plan for all of the security, crowds of people, monuments being further away from each other than expected and parking was a huge pain! So in this blog post, I’m going to give you the tips I wish I would have known before making our trip to DC.
The best time to Visit
This is something I wish I would’ve looked into better than I did. Why? Well because we missed the Cherry blossom festival by a couple of weeks. If I would have pushed our visit out at a later date, we wouldn’t have missed it. We would have been able to see all of DC monuments surrounded by beautiful lush flower trees. Beautiful!. However, we did miss the swarms of crowds that come with the festival.
So I guess the best time to visit D.C depends on your preferences. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and keep your costs down, it would be best to visit in the summer months, when all of the field trips are over, or even the winter months, if you can handle the cold weather. We visited in March and while the weather wasn’t perfect, it was bearable.
Early Spring= Cherry festival with crowds
Winter= Cheaper prices without crowds
Summer= warmer weather without as big of crowds
The decision is yours.
“Take Every Chance You Get In Life, Because Some Things Only Happen Once.
Where to stay?
There’s not a way around it. Like all tourist attractions, D.C is expensive. However, some ways you can cut those costs are by staying a ways out from D.C. It will cut your hotel costs. Especially if you plan on staying a week or more. Some nearby areas to consider are Arlington, Virginia, Alexandria Virginia or Bethesda, Maryland.
Another option to consider is a home on Airbnb. We stayed in one about 40 miles out in Baltimore, which gave us the opportunity to visit both D.C and the inner harbor of Baltimore. It also allowed us to cook our own meals whether than eating out.
If you do choose to stay in an Airbnb be sure to use my link below which will give you $40 towards your first stay.
If your not interested in having a whole house I would also suggest searching for a place on Booking.com.
How many days to visit?
D.C is full of things to do. You could easily spend a month there and keep your self-busy with all the different museums, monuments, Jr ranger programs, tours. The list goes on. If you’re like our family and looking to see the basics of D.C, I’d say three days would be a sufficient amount of time.
Day one Museums
Day two National Mall
Day three Tours
Things to do in D.C
Like I said previously, there are tons of things to do in the D.C area. You could easily keep yourself busy every day for a month straight. Although, my suggestion is to break it down into a must-see list and not attempt to see everything in one visit. Below I brook down a list of things to do in the area into three categories, Free, paid and tour needed.
The National Mall
The White House (outside)
The Capital (outside)
The Jefferson center
The Kennedy Center
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The Museum of Natural History
National Zoological Park
Vietnam veterans memorial
Korean war veteran memorial
National gallery of art east memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
National Museum of Natual History
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
National Museum of the American Indian
Smithsonian Institution building
National archives building
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
United States National Arboretum
Smithsonian American Art Museum
National Portrait Gallary
National Building Museum
Freer Gallary of Art
National Postal Museum
Dumbarton Oaks Museum
National Museum of African Art
The United States Capitol Visitor Center
Folger Shakespear Library
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park
Arlington National Cemetary
United States Botanic Garden
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
Washington National Cathedral
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Newseum Adults $24.95 Seniors $19.95 Kids $14.95
International Spy Museum Adults $22.95 Seniors $16.95 Kids $14.95
National Museum of Women in the Arts Adults $10.00 Seniors $8.00 Students $8.00 Kids Free
Madame Tussauds Washington D.C $17.60
Dumbarton Oaks Garden Adult $10 Senior $8 Kid $5
National Geographic Society- Grosvenor Auditorium Adults $15 Seniors/Military/Students $12 Kids $10
Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens Suggested Donation of Adult $18 Seniors $15 Student $10 Kids $5
All of these tours can be schedule through your Member of Congress. You can find more information on who your member of congress is and how to schedule these tours Here.
Todor Place Adult $10 Senior/militarystudents $8 Kids $3
The Pentagon Tour $free
The White House Tour is free but I would schedule it at least 3 months in advance
The Capital Tour is free and does offer walk up tours, However, they are not guaranteed. If this is a must see for you I would schedule a couple months in advance
The Kennedy Center $free
The Library of Congress offers public tours. These are offered at 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:30 PM Monday through Saturday. Please note there is no 3:30 PM tour on Saturdays. Public tours are offered at the tour desk inside the Library of Congress.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing free
FBI Headquarters free
Supreme Court free
State Department free
Jr. Ranger Opportunities
Our kids love the National parks Jr. Ranger Program. They jump at the opportunity to earn a badge and the D.C area doesn’t have a shortage of opportunities. In fact, they have so many opportunities within a thirty-minute drive of D.C, I’m not sure the kids could’ve completed them all in a months time. We had them chose the programs that were most important to them and saved the others for another time. Another suggestion would be to look at the workbooks ahead of time online, print them off to complete the parts you can and turn them in during your visit. It allows them to keep their focus on the monuments whether than the book work.
National Mall and Memorial Parks
National Cherry Blossom Festival
White House Visitor Center
The White House
Mary Mcleod Bethune National park
Rock Creek Park
Theodore Rosevelt Island
Arlington National Cemetary
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Garden
Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts
Glen Echo Park
Fort Washington Park
Oxen Hill Farm
Clara Barton National Historic Site
Great Falls National Park
Billy Goat B Trail C & O Canal National Historic Park
Fredrick Douglass National Historic Site
And last but not least. Put aside plenty of time to park your car, walk between the different Monuments and going through security. You would be surprised just how much time it takes to accomplish those few things. Now it’s time to get your walking shoes on and get to exploring the D.C area.