Things to Do and See in Washington DC

A British friend is coming across the Pond to visit my old stomping grounds: Washington DC. I lived in the area from 2001-2005, and loved my time there. I’m excited to share the city with her soon!

As I plan our busy, short stop in the city, I’ve put together this list of essentials. Check it out for tips on building your own itinerary, without being overwhelmed!

Monuments and Memorials

The monuments in Washington DC are not to be missed. But I have seen many a tourist determined to visit them on a hot summer day, with about twenty kids in tow, walking from one monument to the next. This is a bad plan!

Monuments are best seen by car (though navigating DC and finding parking can be a pain). It is far too much walking to see the main ones by foot: Jefferson is ages away from anyone, and even walking Lincoln to WWII takes longer than you would think. If you don’t have a car, consider the metro or a taxi.

Kārlis Dambrāns
Kārlis Dambrāns

During the day (especially in the height of tourism season), everything in the city will be packed. This includes the monuments and memorials. It can be hard to appreciate the solemn silence of the Vietnam Memorial when there’s a herd of teenagers pushing past you and giggling to each other.

The best time to see the memorials is actually at night. They are all well lit and (I would argue) more beautiful in the soft golden glow. They are also far less crowded in the evenings, and therefore more quiet.

(Pop quiz: What’s the difference between a monument and a memorial? With a monument, the person it’s dedicated to knew it was going to be built. For instance, George Washington knew about the Washington Monument before he died. Now you know!)

Jeff Kubina
Jeff Kubina