Now that Thanksgiving is over and nobody wants to even think about food, I can tell you about my recent trip to Washington DC! It’d been a long time since I’d been to our nation’s capital. I’d wanted to visit, but as is often the case with domestic travel, I felt like I needed an excuse. And while DC is an exciting place full of history and culture, it never quite made it to the top of my list. And then came an invitation for a Virginia wedding. The invite was from my good friend Khaleelah, who you may remember from my London post last year.
She and I have known each other since we were actual children, so I was going to do whatever I could to make it to that wedding. And as an added bonus, it gave me an excuse to visit DC! The months leading up to this trip were hectic, which left little time for planning. As some of you know, Ben and I are big planners, so going in without a sprawling itinerary was uncharacteristic to say the least. But as it turns out, Washington DC is the perfect destination for those without a plan!
Hold up, what?!
Yep, you heard that right. It’s super easy to fly by the seat of your pants while visiting Washington DC. Why? Because there’s an endless barrage of museums and national monuments and the city is super walkable. So if you’re not averse to learning something on your vacation you’ll never get bored.
Now obviously I’m not an expert on Washington DC. So instead of acting like I have the inside scoop on what you should be doing there, I’m just going to share a few of the highlights from our trip!
Great Falls National Park
One of the first things I research when I travel somewhere new is nearby national parks. But since I didn’t bother to do much research this trip, you can imagine my surprise when I saw a sign for Great Falls National Park en route to the hotel! And during peak rush hour, too. Obviously we stopped.
We weren’t really prepared for a full on hike (plus it was frigid af outside), so we headed straight for the welcome center. That’s honestly the move when visiting a national park, because the rangers are awesome at tailoring recommendations to give you the experience you want. Unfortunately, we got there before the welcome center opened, but we quickly found a path to three gorgeous view points that showcased the falls. We didn’t stick around too long, but it was still the perfect way to start our trip.
National Portrait Museum
The National Portrait Museum was one of the few places I knew I wanted to check out on this trip. I’d wanted to see the Obama portraits, because the paintings are stunning and people in them are absolute treasures. While those two pieces were definitely my favorites, there was a lot more to this Smithsonian run museum than I expected. I’m not too knowledgeable about American history, so seeing the presidential portraits and learning about the men in them was cool and interesting. But in addition to that, the museum also has tons of non-presidential portraits and works of art.
ALSO, fun fact about the Smithsonian museums in the Washington DC area. They’re all free!
Natural History Museum
Another no brainer stop was the Natural History Museum (also Smithsonian). That’s always an interesting time if you’re into the science of our Earth and aren’t fazed by dead stuff. The museum is massive and had more ground than we could possibly cover in the time we had, but I will say that they had an impressive collection of animals and a really cool anthropology exhibit.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is one of the newer Smithsonian museums. And as you can see, it’s quite large. It basically covers the African American experience, and how it helped shape us as a nation. This beautifully curated museum was one of the more unique and interesting spots I’ve been to in a while, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Generally speaking, you kind know what to expect in Washington DC visually. Until, that is, you see Culture House. This old church turned art gallery is beautiful inside and out. The outside is obviously stunning, but the inside features a free gallery with work from local artists. And it’s free!
One thing that I always enjoy while traveling is exploring new areas. Tourist attractions are great in their own right, but I also like to experience a place more organically. Since this was a short trip, didn’t have a ton of time to just wanter, so we picked a particularly beautiful spot – Georgetown. The fall vibes were strong here, so it was perfect for two people who live in a seasonless land.
This charming area is full of cute architecture, shops, and restaurants.
Oh, and also the stairs from The Exorcist.
Hit up a Farmer’s Market
After leaving a museum, Ben and I were delighted to find a farmer’s market. If you encounter one of these while roaming around this or any city, I highly recommend stopping. It’s a great way to try local produce or grab a snack while supporting small businesses. We tried some of the best musubi (from Lei Musubi) we’ve ver had at this one!
And that’s it for this short but sweet! Of course we also found time to wander through the National Mall. That’s kind of hard not to do. And hit up a few local restaurants, all of which were great. What’re your favorite things to do in Washington DC? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram!