Hello there! I bet you thought that I forgot about my travel posts? But you would be wrong my friend! I did not forget. And I’m really excited to share with you my favourite city in the U.S.A. Some people may say the best city is Los Angeles or New York, maybe Chicago or Miami.
But no, friends! With the politics, the history, the architecture, the food, the shopping, the houses. I’m obsessed. It’s such a beautiful city and so underrated. Whenever I say it’s my favourite people always look to me very surprised.
This was my third time going, and I got to bring my partner along this time. He fell in love with it just as much as I did.
So let me take you through the city and show you why it’s my favourite.
D.C. is pretty expensive to stay in so you’ll want to look for an AirBnB or stay in a hotel just outside in Virginia. The city is so small that Virginia is really close by so it’s not a big deal to stay in a different state. There are not a lot of places right by the National Mall (where the main museums and monuments are). Try and stay somewhere that’s near the DC Metro.
We were on a road trip but chose to stay in an AirBnB on Capitol Hill (beautiful neighbourhood) and walk everywhere. There’s basically nowhere to park in DC so do not count on your car, it won’t be fun. If you want to travel somewhere a bit further out than use uber, it’s actually pretty cheap so a major city.
Also no matter what you plan to see you’ll end up walking past the monuments and seeing them. Make a special trek to see them, and do it at night. I’ll go into more detail about this later but trust me, night is best. You’ll see them during the day no matter what.
Lest we all forget, D.C. is in the south. So it is HOT there. When we went it was 40 degrees (celsius which is about 104 fahrenheit). It’s nice to walk everywhere but be prepared, it’s not short walks. Going outside in that heat is not something this Canadian girl is used to, it feels like you’re wearing a snowsuit you can’t take off while inside a sauna.
So either don’t go in the summer (I’ve only ever been in the summer) or do as much early in the morning and late at night as you can.
Book. Things. In. Advanced. A lot of the museums are free and don’t require a ticket but a few do so research ahead of time if you know which ones you want to go to. Also some (like the African American History Museum) only require tickets on certain days so check when you’re going. Also book your tours in advance which I’ll discuss below.
What to Eat
Farmers, Fishers, Bakers
Right on the Potomac, this place is a dream. We didn’t make a reservation so we ended up sitting on the patio. Looking back at it we now laugh at how much we sweat that night but the food is amazing. They have amazing sushi and sushi bowls which I highly recommend. They’re also known for their tiki drinks, which of course on a hot summer’s evening what more could you want than a pina colada?
We the Pizza
There are not a ton of places to eat on Capitol Hill. But don’t get sucked into eating at the overpriced cafeterias in some of the government buildings. There are a few amazing restaurants just steps away. We went to We The Pizza to grab some of their amazingly inventive pizza slices and homemade sodas. I tried a lemon-lime soda and a BBQ chicken pizza. Delicious, cheap, easy and fun.
A much discussed and popular favourite in DC right now. Before I get into the food be warned that they don’t take reservations. Try and go during the week and you can and head in right when it opens. We got there around 5:30 on Thursday and were seated right away. I’ve heard this place can draw a major crowd.
The restaurants next door even had signs out front trying to lure people in waiting for a table at Rose’s. There was even a drink named after the people waiting!
The food is all sharing plates and changes with the seasons so you never know what you’re going to get. We had the most amazing service, ate several courses and our server was so lovely she brought us an extra dish we talked about but didn’t order.
Lincoln’s Waffle Shop
Right next to the spot Lincoln died. How patriotic. But this is a real neighbourhood favourite, it is a classic American diner, cheap as can be and delicious. We had classic diner sandwiches and somehow I convinced my partner to try the grits. He hated them but it was an amazing memory.
You can walk in easily any time, but it’s cash only so keep that in mind.
What to See
Monuments at Night
Did these pictures convince you? The monuments are open all night and look so beautiful all lit up. Plus there are way smaller crowds at night so you can get some lovely pictures if that’s what you’re after. An added bonus if you’re there when it’s blazing hot – way cooler at night.
Most of the monuments are close together and you can walk between them (it’s a long night though keep in mind). However a few like Roosevelt, Jefferson and MLK Jr. are a bit off the beat and path. We used our car to get there, I’d suggest using a car or booking a tour to see those.
Those monuments at night also provide a beautiful view overlooking the tidal basin and a look at some of the other monuments on the National Mall. This is also where the Cherry Blossoms bloom if you’re looking for those trees.
The Jefferson Library
I love a good library. I basically grew up in libraries during my younger years so I don’t like to pass up a good chance to hit up a library. This one is spectacular, there are so many amazing bits to see. You can take a tour, which is free and happens ever hour or you can just wander. Fair warning though you can’t actually go down into the bulk of the stacks where politicians are actually working. It’s closed off by glass and you can just look over.
But there are so many treasure to uncover. An original script from the new Wonder Woman movie was there when we were. As well there’s a large chunk of Thomas Jefferson’s own book collection.
If you want to see where some of the university kids hang out or do some shopping then definitely head down to Georgetown. Also home of the famous Georgetown cupcakes. There’s now a lauduree there as well. Shopping isn’t really my favourite activity while I’m traveling but I love Georgetown anyways. The streets are beautiful and bricklined. And if you head down to the edge of the Potomac you can have an amazing dinner by the water.
What to Do
The Spy Museum
There are A LOT of museums in DC and a lot of them are free and amazing. My top three favourites are the Air and Space, the Newseum and now the Spy museum. You get to see artefacts of real spies all over the world and see how intelligence tactics have progressed over the years. Also there’s a whole floor dedicated to James Bond which was really fun for me.
Tour of Capitol Hill
Did you catch the photo of me staring adoringly at Hamilton? Our tour guide laughed at me for this. If you’re a US citizen you have to book a tour through your representative in Congress. But if you’re not (like me) then you can book your ticket online. We were told to show up 30 min early to get through security and everything but it takes about 5 minutes even when the lines are long so a helpful man at the front desk bumped us to an earlier tour.
You’ll get to learn about history and politics, see some of the offices of the most important people in the country and more. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. You can though go watch Senate or Congress in session if they’re sitting that day.
Supreme Court Lecture
The Supreme Court is entirely made of marble. Which is honestly insane, I’ve been inside ours in Canada and it’s not this impressive.
You can’t go on a tour of the building but there are lectures every hour, if you come in the off season and there’s no cases being heard. While a lecture on your vacation may not sound enticing I loved every second of it. It’s only thirty minutes and you learn how the SCOTUS actually works.
Stop and take in the monuments
Like I said, you’ll see the monuments constantly your whole trip, there’s no avoiding them. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop and take a minute to enjoy the beauty of them that’s all around you.
I hope you enjoyed this post, I know it’s been a long time coming. If you have any questions about visiting DC let me know. This was my third time going so I think I know a fair amount, more than most.
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