With dozens of monuments, museums, flourishing neighborhoods, delicious restaurants and abundant history, Washington D.C. is a tourist heaven. And to see all that Washington D.C. has to offer, a half-day doesn’t even cut it close, but let’s be realistic – who can take off two weeks to explore the nation’s capitol inch my inch. (though I want to go back and do just that!)
On my most recent trip I only had 12 hours including commuting time to make the most of the big city. Here is how I spent my time:
10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Explore the National Mall
With our morning hours after taking the train and metro into the heart of the city, we walked the mall to see the national monuments. From the country’s capitol building, to the slightly askew pinnacle from the city’s huge earthquake this year, to the beautifully handsome face of Abraham Lincoln and the heartfelt war memories – walking the mall and seeing these statues and monuments was a dream come to true for this history buff.
1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Check out one of the free Smithsonian Museums
One – I know, it’s hard to choose – but at least to me I’d rather explore in detail one museum then just poke my head in the doors of all the options. Supported by my love of anthropology and history along with my friends’ excitement for dinosaurs, we wandered through the Natural History Museum. Check out the giant squid and Hope Diamond here.
3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Head to Dupont Circle for happy hour
An adorable neighborhood in D.C. with squished brick buildings and large roundabouts, take the metro from the National Mall to this section of town for a drink or two. We popped in to the Mad Hatter and enjoyed a few glasses of wine and inexpensive rail drinks.
5:00 – 10 p.m. Cruise Georgetown
For the evening we took the bus to Georgetown from Dupont to window shop, grab dinner, dessert and people watch. A popular section of town with beautiful, classic brick buildings and cobble stone roads, Georgetown is a hopping neighborhood. With upscale stores and delicious hot spot eateries – plus a T.V. show famous, cupcake store – this area of D.C. is a busy little gem. We enjoyed dinner at Clyde’s (I loved the Blue Cove Oysters) and then made our way to Georgetown Cupcakes for dessert.
10 p.m. Get home
Train away from Union Station.
We had a little extra time, so we took the bus back to Union Station and grab a beer at the Irish pub and walked over the National Mall to see the monuments at night – if you have the time I highly recommend this! Brave the cold in the winter, it’s worth it!
D.C. Metro – we mainly took the metro around D.C. It was easy to use and decent priced. For $9 you get a day pass and can ride it until close. Grab a pocket map so you can easily look up which metro to take where.
Train – To get to D.C. we trained in from Baltimore taking the Marc. A round trip ticket cost $10 and took about 30 minutes each way.
Bus – There are various buses around the city. I would print off a bus map to bring with you. The bus can take you beyond the metro route and is fairly inexpensive to ride.