Forget politics, the District of Columbia offers more than the usual chitchats in the news and legislature.
If you want something close to New England or even Boston, take a stop for a day or two …or even more in the capital of the United States. Situated in the state of Maryland, the District of Columbia or D.C. is a famous tourist attraction to thousands of locals and foreigners alike.
If you’re visiting DC by plane, there are two accessible airports that may be used as point of entry: Washington Dulles International (IAD) and Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA). Both airports are less than an hour drive to the National Mall where most of the fun happens.
If you’re arriving via bus or train from nearby states, the Union Station is most probably your closest and easiest drop-off point. This includes buses like Greyhound and Bolt bus and the metro rail AMTRAK.
The Union Station is a bonus tourist attraction and photo spot. Make sure to explore the area if you happen to pass by. Somehow, Union Station reminded me of NYC’s Grand Central Terminal
Since the National Mall is the main attraction of D.C., make sure to get accommodations close to it. DuPont Circle is a famous area for hotels but in our case, we rented an Airbnb apartment in Mt. Vernon which is only two stops away from the National Mall. There are buses that offers hop on and hop off special tours and various stops. Or, you could always use the train and walk around the area, especially during spring and fall.
The National Mall
The National Mall which is D.C.’s famous spot would require more than a single day of visit if you want to explore not just the government offices and memorials, but take a peek at history as well.
One of the closest and accessible station near the National Mall is the Archive-Navy Memorial Penn Quarter Station. The station could be accessed by the Green and Yellow lines on the DC Metro. It’s one stop away from L’Enfant Plaza Station that leads to Chinatown and Gallery Place.
From the station, you could visit the Smithsonian Museums and a number of Memorials in the National Mall.
Since we only have two full days to roam, we visited the most famous areas of the mall. TIP: Always know what Smithsonian Museum you want to visit. Walking around and looking for whatever you want could take hours, and staying in one museum could eat up the whole day. There are also museums that have cafes in them. Check out the maps to figure where to go.
Here’s a glimpse of the places we’ve been:
Capitol Hill – Second time in DC and finally, I get to see the Capitol without the construction cages. 🙂 I feel really lucky visiting once again. I was not able to get the tour pass once more since it would take half a day if I want to visit the Library of Congress as well so I settled for outside photos without the usual construction.
National Museum of Natural History – Still a history buff and I enjoyed my visit here.
American History Museum – Ultimate favourite! I learned a lot about America’s history in here. There were stories and videos of past Presidents and of the development of the country. The most famous display of the Museum is the “First Ladies’ Gallery”.
Renwick Gallery – This museum that is just past the White House is a must-see. It is an exhibition of unique American crafts.
Smithsonian Gardens and Castle
Jefferson Memorial — The memorial is seated on one side of the National Mall, (I think west of the Capitol hill) and is near the ferry dock of the Harbor Cruises. Its prominent dome-like structure would not miss your eye. Take a chance to visit the memorial honouring one of the Founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Washington Memorial – The ubiquitous obelisk in the National Mall is the memorial dedicated to the first president of the United States, George Washington. The last time I was in D.C., I did not get the chance to see it up close. Standing at its foot, finally, I realised that it’s too hard to take a photo of it in full view directly from below. >.<
World War II Memorial – This park at the other side of the reflecting pool commemorates the second world war. It is surrounded by posts that name all the states and cities, including overseas which were affected by the war.
Lincoln Memorial – Who would visit D.C without passing by the memorial of one of the most famous presidents in the US’ history? The Lincoln memorial sits facing directly the Washington Monument and the Capitol hill. It is at the other end of the national mall. The top part of the memorial is adorned with the list of the then-48 states. Alaska and Hawaii garnered a plaque on the ground in front of the memorial.
At the top of the stairs, just before its entrance, make sure to look for Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a Dream” plaque.
Reflecting pool – The reflecting pool is best viewed in the Lincoln memorial, where the Washington Monument is perfectly mirrored.
White House – Official residence of the president of the United States. Take time to check the place out for a photo stop.
If you want to get inside and check out how things goes inside, there are scheduled tours that could be applied to prior to your visit. Usually, White House tours are endorsed by governors and district representatives — That was what the lady guard told me when I asked if I could join the group who entered the lawn. LOL.
Of course I did not make it. But I got a good glimpse of the House, in front and at the back part 🙂
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – White House’ address post 🙂
I’ll probably visit D.C. again next time. I want to explore places outside the National Mall, and I’m still panning to do that tour in the Capitol Hill or the Library of Congress.