Things to do in Washington D.C.

I was just thinking that this blog is starting to look like a travel blog between May’s trip to Berlin and this trip to D.C. but these trips were purely coincidental!

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As it turns out, I had to take a last minute trip to Washington D.C.  It was my first time in the city and I had to travel alone, which was scary at first, but made it even better because I was free to do what I wanted for a couple days. I was fortunate enough to have friends who were familiar with D.C. to advise me on where to go and what to do, so I want to share some of my adventures.

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The night tour of all the Memorials

The part of Washington D.C. that everyone is familiar with is the National Mall. This is the area with the Washington Monument, the White House and all the Memorials.  I was advised to tour the monuments at night because they are lit up and it makes for a unique experience. It took me about an hour and thirty minutes, but I am a pretty fast walker. I started my tour at dusk at the Lincoln Memorial and walked around the Tidal Basin . The memorials emerging from darkness gave out this eerie, almost surreal impression. Even as a foreign national, I felt a great amount of emotion and significance emanate from these monuments. Standing there, you definitely feel the importance of the people who have shaped the most powerful country in the world.

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Georgetown and walking by the Potomac River

With its river walk and pretty homes, Georgetown is probably one of the prettiest neighborhoods in D.C., although it may be a bit preppy for some tastes. I had lunch at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place by the Potomac River on Sunday and loved the relaxing atmosphere. It was a warm sunny day and a lot of people were boating, walking around, or simply sitting at the restaurants’ terraces. I ordered crab cakes since it is a local specialty and enjoyed basking in the sun. I highly recommend a walk in this area!

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The Museums

Since my trip was very last minute and quite short, I did not have the time and flexibility to efficiently plan my visit. I read that the second most visited piece of art, after the Mona Lisa, was the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian. I have already seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, so I felt compelled to go see the Hope Diamond. One thing worth noting is that most museums in Washington D.C. are free. This is great for obvious financial reasons, but also because it makes people flow through the museums faster since there are no lines at the cashier. The Hope Diamond is located at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I am not a fan of watching stuffed animals or volcano formations, so I headed straight to the gems and precious stones area. They have some truly magnificent pieces, but I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by the Hope Diamond. It is so big and bulky, and does not even seem real!

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If you enjoy art, I recommend visiting the National Gallery. The lady at the information kiosk was one of the kindest and most helpful people I have ever encountered in a museum! She basically created a personalized itinerary based on my taste and what I told her I hoped to see. The collections are really good and I really liked the modern East Building with its great architecture.

I thought I had managed my time well enough to be able to see the Newseum, the museum of the press. Unfortunately, I showed up an hour before closing time and was turned away! Just a cautionary tale: buy the tickets in advance or plan ample time for a visit.

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The neighborhoods

The center of Washington D.C. feels a bit surreal with the National Mall, the museums and official buildings. As soon as you get outside of the center, you feel this homey, almost European neighborhood feeling. I loved the row homes in the Dupont Circle area for example. The city is so green, especially in the spring when the cherry trees are in bloom. Adams Morgan is great if you like animated neighborhoods and going out to bars. I got breakfast at Tryst , which is super famous, and it did not disappoint. I highly recommend just walking around and stopping by any cute place that strikes your fancy, as there are many of them.

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Enjoying a glass at the POV, the W Hotel’s rooftop

After a hectic day on Monday, I decided to reward myself and celebrate my last night in D.C.  with a glass of wine on the city’s most famous rooftop, the POV Bar at the W Hotel. There is a panoramic view of the Washington Monument and the White House.  It is not the type of spot where I’d spend an entire night out, but it is most definitely worth stopping by for a glass or two. Take pictures!

Overall, I really loved the city and wish I had had more time to visit, as I have a long list of things I still want to do! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

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