Weekend Getaway Guide: Washington DC

Edited: 6/23/19

Washington DC has so much to offer in such a compact space which makes it one of my favorite go-to destinations for weekend getaways! Whether you want to soak up the historical significance of the seemingly endless monuments, wine and dine your way through the thousands of bars and restaurants, roam museums all day, or experience theaters and night-life, DC has something for you. The city is also very kid and dog-friendly, which has made it even more diverse in offerings.

Every March/April the National Cherry Blossom Festival is in full-swing, which is a huge attraction for millions (you read that right) of visitors every year, as it's a perfect opportunity to see the city during its particularly beautiful spring season. Hint: bring a camera!

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The Guide

 

Where to Stay:

Use websites like Expedia or Trivago to find the best hotel deals. I was lucky enough to snag a King Suite 2 blocks away from The White House for $157/night (which is a steal in DC) using these sites! If you'd rather AirBnb, ask friends who are familiar with the neighborhoods or do some extra digging online to find out what neighborhoods to look in (personally, I recommend Dupont Circle, Georgetown, or Chinatown). DC is tightly packed and everything is accessible within a couple Metro stops away, so staying outside of the immediate downtown for less money could be a good way to go if costs are a factor for you.

 

How to Get Around:

Speaking of the Metro, use the Metro. Seriously, do not waste your time trying to drive yourself around or Uber, there's simply too much traffic to get anywhere quickly. You can get a daily pass for under $20 at any of the stations, and it'll definitely save you time and sore feet. There are still plenty of places you can and should walk to (the National Mall, for example), but for longer distances, get on the Metro.

Parking, just as in any big city, is hard to come by. Rather, it's expensive to come by. Again, since driving around DC yourself is a bit of a nightmare, if you're driving into the city use an App like ParkWhiz to locate and pre-book your garage space for the weekend. In my case, it was a lot cheaper than using the hotel valet option and more secure than street parking.

eScooters like Bird, Lime, or Spin, are plentiful in the D.C. area, and are a fun, inexpensive way to see the city. Remember to scoot safely, though!

 

What to Eat:

For as many times as I’ve been to D.C., I’ve always managed to find new and fun places to eat and drink. Dupont Circle has an enormous selection of bar & restaurant options, ranging from authentic French cuisine at Bistrot Du Coin, to a hip board game bar called Board Room. Swanky hotel bar, Doyle, and Italian cafe, Sette Osteria, both note “people-watching” as highlights in their Google Maps descriptions, and do not disappoint! Chinatown offers really fun and unique spots like Bar Deco, Crimson (some of the best food we had all weekend!), and Farmers & Distillers (fried chicken served with a glazed donut…’nuff said).

 

Where to Go:

Oh, the places you'll go!

While I highly recommend spending an afternoon exploring the entire expanse of the National Mall and all its glory, especially during the Cherry Blossom Festival, there are tons of gems in DC to find elsewhere.

The Wharf is incredibly fun for an evening stroll or for day-time shopping, and it happens to have the oldest operating open-air fish market in the U.S. (fair warning, everyone will try to sell you fresh crabs).

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If you feel like making a longer Metro ride out across (or, under?) the river, head over to Arlington to visit the Arlington National Cemetary - it's truly humbling. Bonus: every 30 minutes you can catch The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is pretty incredible to watch. 

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Dupont Circle is a small but diverse neighborhood on the Northwest side of DC center. It's full of fun restaurants (check out Mission Dupont), nightclubs, shopping, museums, and rich architecture. The Mansion on O Street, Kramerbooks & Afterwords, and the Dupont Circle Fountain are all must-sees.

And let's not forget about the museums! DC is definitely in a league of its own in this respect. You'll find plenty of amazing museums along the National Mall (Smithsonian, anyone?), most of them free, and even more beautiful museums around the city, more than enough to fill a weekend!

 

If you've been to DC recently, let me know what your favorite spot was in the comments below!