Washington D.C. has something for everyone whether you are a history buff, bar enthusiast, food snob or sports fanatic. What seems to be an interactive history classroom by day transforms into a playground at night. DC is filled with rooftop happy hours, eclectic cocktail bars and innovative restaurants keeping up to date with the trends.
I recently visited DC for the Fourth of July weekend, and it was as exciting as it was packed. Here are some of the things you should not miss on your next trip to our nation’s capital!
From Point A to Point B: How to Get Around
For cheap and convenient travel, the metro is definitely the way to go. Think it might be too tricky? Try downloading an app like Embark. All you have to do is type in your destination, and it will give you the easiest route, where to connect and departure/arrival times.
Uber became my new best friend on our trip. It is great for small groups and gives you more of a scenic route than a metro ride would. If you haven’t used Uber, it’s extremely easy to navigate. You can select your pickup & drop off locations, easily split the fee with your fellow passengers and some Uber drivers even allow you to play music from your own Spotify account. Talk about a great road trip.
For a unique way to view the city, I recommend City Bikes. You can rent them by the hour or for the day at one of their many locations throughout the city. Simply pick up your bike at one station and drop it back off at the most convenient spot. We rode our bikes around the National Mall to see more and maximize our time.
D.C. is spread out and there is so much to see, so sometimes taking that journey by foot is a great option. Just be sure to map out your day in advance to figure out where it’s best to walk, hop in a Uber or ride along on the metro.
I understand if you don’t want your entire trip to be a history lesson, but when you are in the area, it would be a disservice to yourself to not check out some of the historical spots. When visiting the District, book these tours as soon as you can, as spots fill up fast. Plus, you can fight the lines by taking these preparations in advance!
Tour the theatre where President Lincoln was assassinated. It begins in the museum on the first level then moves to the theatre. It is self-guided, so it allows you to take your time. Afterwards, cross the street to the Petersen House where you can see the bed that President Lincoln passed away in. While waiting for your tour, check out Lincoln’s Waffle House for a quick bite to eat.
One of the countries’ oldest national cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery has buried over 14,000 veterans. Visitors can see memorials to the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps, the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy and the tomb of the unknown soldier, where the changing of the guard takes place. After your tour, walk across the Arlington Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River. From there, it is a short walk to the Lincoln Memorial, which offers a great view of the National Mall and the Washington Monument.
Visiting this museum is truly a humbling experience, and one that everyone should take advantage of if given the opportunity. I was hesitant to visit the museum on my own, but the entire tour is silent and self-guided. It is a very emotional experience, but one that teaches you so much about the importance of human life. At the end of your tour, light a candle in honor of one of the precious lives lost during the Holocaust. Out of everything we did on our trip, this is the experience I took the most away from.
The International Spy Museum is such a fun experience. Learn more about famous spies, espionage artifacts and the evolution of the profession throughout history. Visitors can participate in interactive activities such as crawling through an air duct and games that test your spy skills. I would highly recommend this for all ages.
Grub & Pubs: Where to Eat & Drink
When I think of The District, rooftop bars, heavenly happy hours and bar hopping comes to mind. We found a few favorite watering holes on our trip that are worth a visit.
Located in Adams Morgan, this four-story bar is filled with fun. Start on the first floor to hear live music and grab a drink before heading up to Big Daddy’s Love Lounge and Pick-Up Joint on the second floor to play a game of pool or lounge. The third level offers a more low-key bar for it’s visitors before heading the the Starlight Roof Deck and Tiki Bar. Grab a barstool and a drink and admire the great view of the District.
If shimmying and shot paddles are more your speed, head over the Chinese Disco in Georgetown! Order a growler; a pitcher of your cocktail of choice, to really get the party started. I recommend a Chi Di Crush or a Strong Island Iced Tea. They will come in handy when you make your way over to the dance floor.
With two locations, El Centro, opened by Richard Sandoval, offers authentic Mexican cuisine, a bar equipped with over 200 different tequila options and delicious cocktails. I highly recommend the Strawberry Margarita. Make sure to check out the rooftop patio at the Georgetown location and beware of the secret surprise in the bathroom!
This seat-yourself burger bar with two locations is the perfect pit stop after a day of sightseeing. The Big Daddy signature burger comes with bacon, bleu cheese, mushrooms and AP sauce. Don’t forget to add a side of french fries and complete your meal and a milkshake. Bonus: they also serve shaketails! My recommendation? The Oreo Speedwagon.
Think Chipotle, but for pizza. Guests can make their own pizza or choose one of the options from the menu. I recommend the Gnarlic, but just add bacon because let’s be real—bacon makes everything better. &pizza has their own line of craft sodas to accompany your personal pie. Stop in on your lunch break, for a casual dinner date or for a drunk meal post happy hour.
Located on the Georgetown Waterfront, Farmers Fishers Bakers is a must see on your trip. Farm to table menus, a tiki bar with more cocktails than you could dream of and outdoor seating are just a few things this restaurant has to offer. We chose to visit for brunch, and for only $29 per guest, we were welcomed with a warm plate of cinnamon rolls and could choose from a variety of stations offering crab and artichoke dip, egg scrambles or french toast to name a few. Be sure to grab a bite from the traveling trays too!
Music meets dining at this DC hotspot located near Metro Center! Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the food and service is hard to beat. I recommend trying the Fried Green Tomato “Bennie” or the Chicken & Blueberry Pancakes. Stop by in the evening to see a live show and experience a different atmosphere. The entertainment lineup includes Rebirth Brass Band, Taylor Hicks and a John Lennon birthday tribute.
A Little Lagniappe
There is so much to do and see in The District that you can’t accomplish it in one weekend. Here are my top picks next time I visit the nation’s capital!