A few weekends ago I set an early Saturday alarm to head down to Washington DC for a quick 36 hours! While I’ve been to DC a few times this was my first trip with the main goal of exploring and doing all the touristy things DC has to offer! I usually like to plan trips down to the minute and make plenty of restaurant recommendations ahead of time, but this trip ended up being one of those decide as you go kind of trips.
Instead of just doing my normal travel recap I thought I’d share a few Dos and Don’t’s for planning your own weekend in DC! With DC just a short bus ride away I can tell you I’ll for sure be back soon – I’m thinking a summer trip may be in order because I’m assuming there is nothing like the 4th of July in DC!
DAY 1: NATIONAL MALL
- Wear your comfortable walking shoes (in my case my trusty ballet flats)! The National Mall is super spread out and the best way to experience it is to walk from end to end (~2.5 miles). We started at the Library of Congress and weaved our way through the different Smithsonian Museums and memorials as we made our way to the Lincoln Memorial.
- Look online ahead of time to see which museums are most important to you! Even if you spend an entire day on the National Mall you won’t have time for every museum. However, since they’re free you’ll want try and hit your favorites. Check here to figure out which ones you’re most interested in!
- Organize your days by neighborhood. There seriously is SO much to see and I wanted to spend time at both the National Mall and in Georgetown (seriously brownstone heaven!). We spent our first day doing the mall and the second in Georgetown and it was the perfect split.
- Wake up early to explore. On our second day we woke up early on our second day to to see the cherry blossoms and it was so worth it to beat the crowds. The tidal basin (the below image) was gorgeous and was so much more enjoyable before the hoards of other tourists showed up.
DAY 2: CHERRY BLOSSOMS
- Leave your dinner & brunch plans to chance. So many friends sent over restaurant recs, but with my busy schedule leading up to the trip I didn’t book any reservations. Little did I know every great restaurant in DC takes reservations, so if you don’t make them you’re either not getting at all (some places wouldn’t even take down names) or you’ll be waiting hours. Major callouts are Founding Farmers and Le Diplomat, but it felt like every restaurant we called was booked solid so plan ahead!
- Ignore the weather man. On our first day I wanted it to be spring so badly and didn’t wear nearly enough layers to be warm. By end of the day (and after ~8 miles of walking) I was chilled to the bone and totally exhausted. What’s it they say? Do what I say, not what I do? Def don’t do as I did.
- Rely on cherry blossom calendars. Every year the best timing for cherry blossoms is released, but the reality is you’ll never really be able to plan perfectly. Our trip was going to be too late for the blossoms, but thanks to a cold front we ended up getting lucky and seeing beautiful blooms. I suggest planning later rather than earlier so at least if you miss the blossoms it will be warmer!
- Try to do everything. There are some cities where you can do an see everything in just one weekend, but DC is not one of them. My suggestion is pick what you want to do, whether it be the memorials, Georgetown, or Downtown DC and devote a day to it! Most likely you’ll want more time than you thought at each location!
DAY 2: GEORGETOWN
Like I mentioned above, since we didn’t make any reservations I was a bit disappointed by some of our meals, but there were a few spots that truly stood out!
- SOI38 Foggy Bottom – This was a last minute dinner choice and man were we impressed! Thai food isn’t always my first choice when it comes to picking a cuisine, but I was shoveling down everything we ordered. Plus, if you’re going with friends get The Emperor’s Punch for a bit of fun!
- District Donuts Georgetown – I love a good donut and District Donut did not disappoint! It’s a bit hidden in Georgetown, but that just meant it wasn’t full of tourists and the team was so sweet as I was taking photos 🙂
- Grace Street Coffee Georgetown – This coffee shop is where I imagine I would’ve spent all my time if I went to school in Georgetown. Not only was the coffee delish, but they also have fun acai bowls and a ton of seating so you can hang out with your friends!
- Tuckernuck Georgetown – While not food, the Tuckernuck store in Georgetown is a must visit if you have time! I love their e-comm site, but visiting their store with it’s extra preppy set up is the epitome of why the in-store shopping experience will never fully go away (which is whole other topic for another time!)
If you’re still here – thanks for reading! If you’re planning your own Washington DC weekend and are in need of recommendations definitely shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.