Guide to Washington D.C.
Washington, America’s capital, is a city filled with history, landmarks and the nation’s best museums. It is beautifully clean, interesting and has much more going on than just politics.
How to get there
If you’re flying in from overseas, you will arrive in Dulles International Airport. From the airport, you can get to downtown Washington DC either by Metro Bus, a shuttle bus company or a taxi. The Metro Bus is the cheapest but slowest option.
If you’re arriving from within the USA by plane, you will arrive at Ronald Reagan National Airport. From here you can take the subway to downtown as it is quite close.
Otherwise, if you’re coming from nearby states, I would highly recommend taking Megabus. This is an exceptionally cheap bus company that runs throughout the USA. I booked a trip from Philadelphia to DC for just $5. This drops you off at Union Station, the main train station in DC.
Where to stay
I stayed at Downtown DC Hostel and I would highly recommend it for many reasons including location, value for money, cleanliness and the friendly atmosphere. It is super easy to get to, just a 5-10 minute walk from the main train station, Union Station. Within a few blocks walking distance there is a huge supermarket and numerous cheap and delicious restaurants. There is also a free tram that runs to Union station which stops right out the front.
As soon as I walked in, I was welcomed by a room of friendly people and was offered a beer! If you’re feeling social, you can stay in a dorm room with either 4, 6, 8 or 12 beds for as little as US$21 a night. Otherwise, they also have cosy private rooms for 2. The building is 3-storeys and there are multiple bathrooms on each floor. There is a nice kitchen on the ground floor which has everything you need to cook. They even offer free coffee each morning!
There is a cosy communal lounge area where everyone relaxes, watches Netflix and has some drinks. Every night they have Happy Hour which involves an hour of free beer! They also organize free activities every night which were really popular. These include a local stand up comedy night, walking tours and many more.
Book your stay at: http://www.cityhousehostels.com.
What to do
There is so much to see and do in Washington DC! There are quite a few iconic monuments which you can visit in one day. There are also a large amount of free museums, which you could spend days visiting. Aside from this, there are some great lively areas to explore around downtown.
Visit Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill is an area south east of downtown and is where you can find the beautiful Capitol building, home of the US Congress. It is surrounded by extensive gardens and is a lovely area to walk around, especially during sunset when the golden sun hits the Capitol.
Visit the Air and Space Smithsonian museum
This is hands down one of the best museums I have ever visited. Even if you are not an air and space nerd you can easily enjoy a few hours here. It is just incredible what they have preserved. It is free entry like all Smithsonian museums in DC, which is an added bonus!
They also have an IMAX theatre where for $9 you can see one of their spectacular 3D movies, which are air and space themed.
Visit the Whitehouse
On the south edge of Downtown you can say hello to the current President of the USA (from a distance!). You can walk around the Whitehouse and see the beautiful gardens on the property.
Visit the Washington Monument
This is a spectacular monument that sits in the National Mall, just before the long rectangular lake that stretches between it and the Lincoln memorial. Usually you can go inside the monument and take an elevator up to the top, however it is closed for refurbishment until 2019.
Visit the Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is located south west of downtown at the end of the National Mall. The memorial sits up on the top of a set of stairs and is quite spectacular.
Once you’re at the memorial, you can see a phenomenal view behind you of the National Mall and the Washington Monument.
Explore Dupont Circle
This is a fabulous area near downtown that is full of restaurants and bars. From the main circle you can walk north up Embassy Row, which is a beautiful street with 2kms of worldwide embassy buildings.
From here, you can wander around the quiet streets to the pretty Spanish steps garden.
Explore beautiful Georgetown
Georgetown is a suburb just west of downtown and is an incredibly beautiful area. The houses are gorgeous and there are many great eateries and shops to visit.
If you have a sweet tooth, DC Cupcakes it worth a stop! It features in the DC Cupcakes reality TV show, and is famous for their delicious flavours.
If you’re a fan of the horror movie “The Exorcist”, you should visit the nearby steps where part of the movie was filmed.
Go skating at Washington Harbour
From Georgetown, you can enjoy a great short walk south down to the water to reach Washington Harbour.
During winter, the Washington Harbour turns into a winter wonderland. There is a great ice skating rink, restaurants galore and a relaxing waterfront to walk alongside.
Go and watch a hockey game
The Washington Capitals are the local hockey team in DC, and if you have the chance you should definitely check out a game. The atmosphere is great and the game is fast paced. If you book a while in advance you can get tickets online for around $15 each!
How long to stay
You can spend at least two or three full days exploring downtown Washington DC, Georgetown and the monuments. If you are planning on visiting museums, add a few hours for each museum!