Are you looking for the Best Washington DC Travel Guide? Washington DC makes a great vacation destination year-round, but it’s especially ideal in the spring and summer months when the weather is warm and sunny and fewer tourists crowd the sites.
Washington, DC has something to offer everyone, whether you are a history buff, an art lover, or enjoy shopping, dining, and nightlife.
If you’re planning a trip to Washington, look no further than this guide to the best Washington DC travel guide! Here are some top tips for making your stay in Washington safe and fun! But before this, you can also check out the best things to do in Washington, D.C.
The Best Washington DC Travel Guide
When you arrive in a new city, your best bet is to walk everywhere. That’s a fairly blanket statement, but it’s true most of the time.
Walking around a new city lets you see how people live and interact with their neighborhoods (that said, don’t get too hung up on seeing everything).
It also helps you determine what neighborhoods feel comfortable for you (do you like being near restaurants and bars? Is an active street life important?
If specific places or things are important to see, you can use a taxi, Uber, or Lyft at night or when they close if they’re not accessible on foot.
Washington D.C. is home to more than 600,000 residents and has been ranked as one of America’s most walkable cities by Forbes magazine.
Where to stay
Accommodation prices can vary widely; take time to research your options ahead of time. Decide whether you’d prefer to stay in a hotel or with a host.
If you choose to stay with a host, it’s important to stay in a safe area and trust your instincts. If something feels off about your potential accommodations, keep looking until you find somewhere safe.
Some hotels offer better amenities than others, but some are also far more affordable. And don’t forget about B&Bs; they offer great hospitality and often include breakfast and other perks like free Wi-Fi, all for a price that’s sometimes comparable to hotels.
Before booking anything, read reviews from previous guests and check out websites like TripAdvisor to understand what people think of each place.
This will help you narrow down your choices to make a decision based on what’s most important to you.
After you have found where you want to stay, it’s time to check-in. This can be done either online or at reception, depending on where you booked your accommodation.
If booking online, make sure that all details are correct before paying because once payment is made, it cannot be refunded even if something was entered incorrectly.
Where to eat
D.C. is famous for its great food, and what may surprise you is that most of it isn’t fancy. There are a lot of great restaurants located in places like Union Station and Rosslyn that don’t have any notable signs or advertisements.
So where should you eat? Consider these five D.C. area must-eats:
#1. Old Ebbitt Grill
This iconic restaurant has been around since 1856, making it one of D.C.’s oldest establishments and certainly one of its best.
It’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike for a good reason: The food is delicious, reasonably priced, and served quickly.
Plus, their bar has more than 100 different kinds of bourbon! But don’t let that scare you; even if you’re not into bourbon (or alcohol at all), they also serve nonalcoholic drinks like iced tea and lemonade.
#2. Ted’s Bulletin
If you’re looking for something a little fancier but still affordable, Ted’s Bulletin is your place.
They offer delicious breakfast foods like pancakes and eggs Benedict and lunch items such as sandwiches and salads. They also have desserts that are worth trying; I highly recommend their Oreo Cheesecake Milkshake!
#3. Busboys & Poets
If you want to feel good about your meal choice while eating out, head to Busboys & Poets. They source locally grown ingredients whenever possible and support local farmers by using seasonal produce.
They also pay living wages to their employees and provide health insurance benefits so that everyone can be treated fairly, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
#4. Ben’s Chili Bowl
A visit to D.C. wouldn’t be complete without having a meal at Ben’s Chili Bowl, founded in 1958 by Ben Ali Haggin and his wife, Virginia.
They claim to have invented chili cheese fries and half-smokes, two of D.C.’s signature dishes! You’ll find no shortage of people lining up outside before opening hours on weekdays for their signature chili dogs, burgers, fries, and shakes but trust me when I say it’s worth waiting for.
As a bonus, you get to walk away with a t-shirt after finishing your meal.
#5. Red Hen (1822 1st St NW)
Looking for something quick and casual? Stop by Red Hen. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus cocktails.
Some of my favorites include their bagels with lox spread and their omelet with roasted potatoes. And did I mention they have happy hour every day from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. with $5 glasses of wine and beer?
What to do
Depending on your trip, you might want to prioritize different activities. For example, if you’re visiting to tour museums and monuments, then sightseeing will be your most important category.
Great restaurants and unique experiences that make for amazing dates are at a higher premium if you’re planning a romantic getaway.
If you’re traveling with kids in tow, attractions that cater to their interests might be on your list. So think about what type of vacationer you are and what kind of experience you’d like to have, and then match it with a destination accordingly.
The best Washington, DC travel guide is out there; all you need to do is find it! Here’s how: You may already know exactly where you want to go, but the chances are good that your idea isn’t original.
When looking for information online, start by searching specific destinations or activity types (e.g., best beaches near Chicago).
But remember: No matter how long or short your trip is, no matter how far-flung or nearby your destination is, everyone has a travel opinion.
Before booking anything (or making any plans), read reviews from fellow travelers and local experts who can tell you which sights are must-sees and which ones aren’t worth a second glance. And always ensure to check out our traveling tips for your perfect guide.
How to Save Money While Visiting Washington, D.C.
It’s not hard to see why many people describe a trip to Washington D.C. as overwhelming. As one of America’s oldest cities, it has more than 800 years of history which means there is an infinite number of things to do and see!
The best Washington DC travel guide will help you get started with how to save money while visiting Washington, DC, but even that can seem not very comforting. How do you choose? What if you don’t have much time?
Well, you should start by doing your research. The more knowledge and experience you bring with you to your trip, the easier it will be for you to focus your energy on finding what’s most important to you at that moment.
Here are some ways to make sure you get the most out of your visit
Start with a plan
Don’t just wing it! If you want to maximize your time in Washington D.C., think about what you want to accomplish during your visit before you go.
You can create a day-by-day itinerary or come up with a list of must-see sights and activities based on where they are located (and public transportation).
A good place to start is on our best Things To Do In Washington DC list. Be aware that these lists are always comprehensive or updated regularly, so keep in mind that they may include everything worth seeing or doing in D.C. But they’re still great places to begin planning your trip!
One of my favorite things about visiting Washington D.C. is its walkability. Most major attractions are within walking distance of each other, making exploring easy and stress-free.
Plus, it’s free! And since public transportation isn’t quite as convenient or cost-effective as driving (in my opinion), I recommend using Uber to get around town instead of taxis.
Save on sightseeing costs
Whether going solo or traveling with friends, consider purchasing a CityPass when you arrive in town.
This pass gives you access to six top attractions, including The National Mall and Memorial Parks, Smithsonian Museums, White House tours, National Zoo, etc.
With savings of up to 40% off regular admission prices, it’s worth considering. For example, a family of four would pay $160 for all six attractions ($40 per person) versus $190 per person without CityPass ($40 per attraction).
There are no lockers available at D.C.’s top tourist destinations (except Union Station), so plan accordingly!
If you’re staying near a Metro station, consider leaving your extra luggage with them. Otherwise, you’ll need to carry it with you everywhere you go.
Carrying a heavy bag slows down your pace, but it also limits how much you can pack into your day. So try to pack only what you need and leave room for souvenirs!
Some of D.C.’s biggest attractions offer timed entry passes online. These passes allow visitors to avoid long lines and ensure they see their favorites first thing in the morning!
Some popular sites like The Lincoln Memorial and U.S. Capitol Building sell out quickly, so it’s always good to check ahead of time if something is important to you.
The Washington Monument stood tall at 555 feet and was built to commemorate George Washington’s 200th birthday. Climb to the top of the monument and be rewarded with some of DC’s best views.
You can also visit his grave at nearby Mount Vernon. If history is your thing, you’ll be right at home in DC, where you can tour monuments like Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was assassinated, or The White House itself.
There are many free museums around town; see if there are any that interest you, or consider visiting a few if it fits your budget and schedule.
Get a view of these famous sights on foot or hop on public transportation for cheap sightseeing (and avoid looking lost). Or go old school and rent a bike to cruise along DC’s scenic streets.
Whatever your mode of travel, take plenty of pictures because there’s no shortage of beautiful architecture.
Popular places in Washington, D.C
There are so many amazing places to visit in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Museum has so much to offer history and science buffs alike.
For nature lovers, the National Mall is home to museums, monuments, and some other attractions. More intimate spots like Georgetown Park with its famous stores and boutiques.
Whatever your interests, maybe, you’ll find something for everyone in D.C. If you’re visiting Washington, D.C., check out these top-rated tourist destinations. They’re worth every penny!
When to Go to Washington, D.C.
It’s generally agreed that visiting Washington D.C. in spring or fall is ideal when temperatures are mild, and there’s still plenty to see but not as many crowds.
Summer can be really hot and humid, so avoid it; instead, try going in September or October when events like the Festival of Nations add a bit of international flair to public spaces like Lafayette Square and Meridian Hill Park.
(Who knows? You might even catch some fireworks!) Winters aren’t too bad either, there are fewer tourists around, and museums often offer free admission on certain days.
If you visit during winter, pack layers: You never know what kind of weather you might get!
Spring is particularly lovely because most blossoms have come out by then, adding a pop of color to otherwise-dull city streets.
And while everyone else will be trying to snap photos of cherry blossoms, you’ll have already been there and done that! So go ahead and schedule your trip for May or June.
Washington Gear and Packing Guide
If you plan on hitting D.C. in summer, early fall, or spring, you’ll want to be smart about layering your clothing to keep warm and cool when temperatures fluctuate from day tonight.
The same goes for winter travel, except that your focus will be more on staying dry than warm (though having a sweater handy never hurts).
Be aware of weather forecasts before you go and pack accordingly; it’s always wise to have an umbrella or raincoat at hand.
No matter what time of year you head out for D.C., bring plenty of sunscreen for your time outside! The sun is especially intense in D.C., especially during the summer months. Pack lip balm with SPF as well.
It can be a daunting task to plan a trip to DC. Although most of our time is spent on monuments and museums, we have discovered that there is so much more to see in a city founded in 1790 as our capital city.
It is an area rich with history, where each brick tells its own story about what life was like for those who helped build our country’s foundation.
We hope you will visit and discover some of your favorite places in our nation’s capital. As travelers, we are always looking for new things to do when we travel.
If you have suggestions or comments, please share them with us! Enjoy your visit to Washington DC!