Like any trip to a new destination, there is so much to learn and explore. Whether you’re taking a short trip or spending months in the capital, you need to make sure that you’re prepared so that you make the most out of your time in this vibrant city. Formerly the District of Columbia and home to the White House, here are some important things to know before you visit:
No Cars are Necessary
The first thing to know is that you don’t need to bring your car along. Washington DC is a very difficult place to drive around, so you should stick to walking, or make use of the fantastic public transport options. You might want to do a little research to figure out your best options, depending on the places you plan on visiting, but you have a good choice when it comes to transport. You can ride the DC Metro or ride the hop-on-hop-off buses for an easy tour of the most popular parts.
Prepare Your Feet
Whilst public transport is great, you should be prepared for a lot of walking. The National Mall is so much bigger than you’d expect, and you could spend a whole day just walking around it. D.C. has lots of great monuments to see and they look spectacular lit up at night too, so you have plenty of chances to see them. This is definitely the destination for you to wear your comfiest walking shoes; opt for comfortable sneakers instead of fashionable heels. If walking is your thing, there are many great walking guides out there, so you can enjoy taking in some of the best sights.
With lots of walking in mind, make sure you carry around a reusable water bottle. D.C. has great tasting water and thanks to the Taplt scheme, you can refill your bottles instead of buying more; the environment and your wallet will thank you! If you are visiting in hot weather, it’s important to stay hydrated, so it’s reassuring to know that there are lots of free-water sources to get drinking water from.
Where to Stay
As for accommodation, hotels in busy tourist areas can be incredibly expensive. You will have to weigh up what works best for you, but don’t forget about your other options too, particularly if you’re planning on staying for a while. Each form of accommodation has its positives; whilst hotels are beneficial for a short stay, if you are visiting on business or staying for a few months, these furnished rentals could be a much better option. Blueground has some great furnished rentals in Washington DC, which give you the luxury of a home-away-from-home. They often offer flexibility when it comes to how long you plan on staying, and they accept pets too!
Doing things spontaneously can be fun and exciting, but there are some things that have to be booked ahead. One of those places is The Whitehouse, which requires you to request a tour well in advance from a member of Congress. You will also find that some museums and attractions get very busy, so to avoid waiting in lines, pre-book tickets and plan your itinerary accordingly. It’s really helpful to make yourself an itinerary before any kind of trip, as planning out when and where you want to go can be stressful. Having an itinerary will help to relieve some of that stress, by having an easy visual on it all. Whilst there is so much to see and do, don’t try to cram it all into one visit. Make time for you to walk and relax freely; you can always come back and visit again!
Whilst some of the paid-for attractions might be unmissable, you don’t have to spend heaps of money to have an exciting trip. There are plenty of free places to see and visit in Washington D.C., including all 19 of the Smithsonian Museums. You can visit the Zoo for free, as well as all the monuments and memorials, and most of the art museums and galleries are free too. Once again, doing your research can really help you figure out which places you don’t want to miss out on.
The Right Time to Visit
Washington D.C. is worth visiting in every season, but each season has its own things to offer. Spring might be the busiest season to visit, but for a very good reason. D.C. is home to 3,000 Cherry Blossom trees, gifted by the Mayor of Tokyo. These beautiful trees bloom every spring and are celebrated during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Winter is probably the quietest season thanks to the snow, but the city looks stunning lit up with lights and Christmas trees.
Whenever you choose to visit, you are sure to have a great experience. There are so many great things to see and do, so take your time to look around and enjoy it all.