Short getaways can be just as rewarding as a week’s vacation if done right. But it takes some thought as to which destination to visit, and some advance research and planning are essential to capitalize on the limited amount of time available. In the end, the forethought is well worth it.
A great destination for a short getaway or full-fledged vacation is Washington DC. Given so much culture and history in the US Capital, not to mention the many free attractions, DC is a no-brainer for anyone looking for an interesting and energizing experience. In addition to the educational factor, DC can be quite romantic with plenty of patio dining options for lunches and upscale restaurants for dinners, such as Bistro Cacao and Plume.
With romance or relaxation in mind, The Tidal Basin is an ideal place for a leisurely stroll, particularly in the spring when the region comes alive with fragrant cherry blossoms. For more flowers and plants, consider sauntering through the US Botanic Garden. This attraction is free and includes a look at the living treasures of the world. Or consider the scenic waterfront, which is for perfect for afternoon picnics on the shore or sunset cruises on the Potomac River.
Indeed, walking is a great way to access several of DC’s points of interest given the proximity of many. To that end, DC by Foot offers informed walking tours of Capitol Hill and Arlington Cemetery, among others, including an excursion that is increasing in popularity across North America – a Ghost Tour, where participants are led through the city at night with stops at select buildings that are said to be haunted.
Of course, the most iconic region for a self-guided walking tour is the National Mall, oft called America’s Front Yard, a place of protests, celebrations and inaugural gatherings. The area is bordered on one end by The Capital Building, on the other by the Lincoln Memorial with the infamous Reflecting Pool in front and the Washington Monument standing tall in the middle.
Travelers can visit the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center for exploration of Emancipation Hall and treasured artifacts from the onset of the US as a nation, or visit the Library of Congress, a free tour of unique exhibits and the largest collections of books, papers, and recordings in the world. Another destination consideration is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which is free to visit with guided tours in 17 different languages.
Aside from walking, riding the Metro is also easy, or for more in-depth exploration, tourists can opt for the City Sights Double Decker Bus or the Hop On Hop Off Big Bus, both of which feature different tour packages that vary in length and destinations to be visited.
When it comes to museums, Washington DC surely has its fair share with something to please everyone – all educational, all fascinating and all worthy of a visit. There is everything from the National Museum of American History to the International Spy Museum. Also to be considered for an afternoon of exploration are the National Geographic Museum, the Newseum, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (pictured above). There’s even Madame Tussauds Washington D.C
Looking for something a little more sporty, a rental bike is a great way to get around the city. It grants exercise as well as convenience considering it eliminates battling tourist traffic and the endless search for a parking spot. And there is the advantage of kicking it up a notch with a trail ride considering the many that are available. As examples, bike down the Capital Cresent trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, or pedal to Kingman Island. Bikes typically cost $35/day in the US Capital with several trail ride suggestions found here. Looking for more outdoor fun, try kayaking or canoeing on the Potomac via Boating in DC.
For a completely different experience, head to the Smithsonian National Zoo, where admission is free and guests can spend the night among the animals.
Seemingly, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Washington DC, and there’s no shortage of places to stay, with a variety of bed & breakfasts, inns, motels, and hotels. So, now that you have such an extensive list of must-sees in the US Capital, all that’s left to do is make your reservations.