The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Visiting DC
Did you know a record number of 22 million people visited Washington DC in 2018? Tourism to our nation’s capital has been increasing every year since 2009, and tourists have spent billions of dollars.
Although COVID-19 may cause a brief decrease in tourism, it remains one of the most popular places to see. Are you thinking about visiting DC sometime in the near future?
There is a lot of ground to cover in the district so you need to be smart about what you plan to do. To help you through the process, we’ve compiled this guide on how to plan a trip to DC.
Keep reading below to learn about the best time to visit, interesting monuments, educational museums, and how to dine around the district.
What’s the Best Time To Visit DC?
The first thing to do when visiting Washington DC is to decide what time of year you want to go. Like every tourist destination, it has busy and slow seasons.
Based on the average temperature and the total number of people who visit, the best months to go to DC are from September to November. The daily temperature ranges from 50 to 70 degrees and tourism drop sharply from the summer.
If you can’t make it in the fall, the second-best time to visit is between March and May. Temperatures during this time are as brisk as they would be in the fall.
Many people prefer visiting in the springtime because it marks the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Washington DC temperatures in the summer can get surprisingly hot and humid, making it less desirable to walk for your sightseeing. There are many events held year-round in DC and most of them are outside.
You should also consider COVID-19 travel restrictions when planning a trip.
Spend the Day Visiting Museums in DC
Museums are a great way for tourists of all ages to learn more about history or science. The area is full of museums to satisfy all interests.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, for instance, covers the entire human history of flight. From the earliest airplanes to equipment used by the astronauts, it showcases it all.
Lovers of art and culture can visit the National Gallery of Art. It displays over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative arts photographs, prints, and drawings.
Children love learning about Ancient Egypt or unique wildlife in the National Museum of Natural History.
The list of exciting museums goes on: International Spy Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and more.
With so much to see when visiting Washington DC, it’s probably a good idea to plan. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself running out of time quickly. Choose one or two of the museums you are the most interested in and devote your day to getting the most out of it.
Some of the museums have unfortunately closed temporarily due to COVID-19 but you can visit the collections digitally by visiting their websites.
Visiting DC? Check Out National Monuments
It’s no secret that DC is home to the best monuments in the country. They are iconic monuments featured in textbooks, commercials, art installations, and more.
One of the best things to do in Washington DC is to put on a comfortable pair of sneakers and walk to as many of the monuments as you can. Most are no charge, although some ask for a donation.
Here are some of the best Washington DC monuments to visit:
- Washington Monument: A 555-foot talk obelisk memorializing George Washington
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial: A giant gravestone listing the names of the fallen men from the Vietnam War
- Lincoln Memorial: The ancient Greek Temple honoring Abraham Lincoln, and which hosted events like Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech
- World War II Memorial: A newer edition to DC’s national monuments collection that honors the soldiers of World War II
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: A monument sculpture of MLK carved into the side of a giant slab of granite
Visitors from all over the world enjoy visiting the national monuments in DC. It helps them learn more about the United States of America.
Check each of the monuments ahead of time before planning your trip. Sometimes they’re partially or completed closed for renovations or maintenance.
How To Visit DC for the Food
Eating out is one of the perks of being on vacation and DC is full of amazing places to dine.
Your first step should be to decide whether you want casual or formal meals? This will also affect what clothes you pack. No matter what you choose, the food is delicious.
DC boasts 20 Michelin stars across 16 restaurants, many James Beard awards, and high online rankings among foodies.
Old Ebbitt is a DC fixture serving American-style food and politicians are known to make appearances from time to time.
Other popular eateries include Del Mar, Bistrot du Coin, and Bethesda Crab House. You won’t have any problem finding something delicious.
Given the current COVID-19 restrictions, you should plan on wearing a mask and eating in a restaurant that offers partitions or outside seating. Ask if they have contactless payment and make sure to use your credit card rather than cash.
In fact, if you drove to DC or rented a car to get around, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is recommending drivers pay by smartphone when it comes to parking. They’re offering a new app called ParkMobile to reduce the number of people touching meters.
Are You Ready To Visit Our Nation’s Capital?
If you’ve never been to Washington DC before, now is your chance! When visiting DC you get to learn about the federal government, our nation’s history, and see some of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in the United States.
Do you love traveling? No matter where in the world you choose to go, our blog can help you make plans, find the best places to stay, or get tips on having the time of your life. Start reading before you plan your next trip.