Washington, D.C. is the pinnacle of American history and a landmark for making history. This tree-lined city is home to politicians, ambassadors, students, lawmakers, the occasional lawbreakers, historians and dreamers alike. Only have a day? Here’s the guide for you:
Things to Bring: comfortable walking shoes, a map, a camera, weather-appropriate attire, appetite for American history.
Recommended Mode of Transport: feet, bus, paddle boat, bike, metro.
8 a.m. Breakfast of Champions and Capitol Hill
Rise and shine! Get yourself to Capitol Hill, and don’t be late! This is where history is made. Stop for a quick bite on the way at Jimmy T’s Place (warning: it’s cash only.) It’s a dive-y eggs-and-waffles kind of joint that will fill you up but won’t empty your wallet. This place gets crowded on the weekends, so get there early for the shortest wait time. Insiders Tip: D.C. is the political capital of the Free World, but some also like to consider it the brunch capital of the Food World. Feel like sleeping in? Start your day with brunch at Ted’s Bulletin on the Hill. The homemade pop-tarts give Kelloggs a serious run for their money.
10 a.m. Let’s go to The Mall!
One of the fantastic parts of so many free museums all in one place is the ability to pick and choose based on your interests– but the Natural History Museum never disappoints: The Hope Diamond, prehistoric sharks, a wooly mammoth and a monstrous dinosaur skeleton earns this museum one of the first stops of the day.
12:30 p.m. Lunch with Mr. President
Now that you’ve gotten your fill of the National Mall, turn right at the Washington Monument and make your way the short few blocks to the White House. You can snap a few pictures of Obama’s cozy little abode, take a few of your own at the gift shop Photo Booth across the street, and duck into Old Ebbit Grill for some lunch. This turn-of-the-century, oak and velvet lined brasserie is home to some of D.C.’s most scandalous political luncheons as well as some of the tastiest seafood platters. Insiders Tip: Make friends with your server. On slower days, some of the servers will treat their guests to a special rooftop visit for a view of the White House not soon forgotten.
2 p.m. Tidal Basin
Time to walk off that lunch! From the White House, walk down to the Tidal Basin, where a picturesque path loops around the body of water pooled from the nearby Potomac River. Here, you can stop along the cherry tree blossoms and admire the incredible monuments mounted in honor and remembrance of some of our nation’s most powerful presidents and historical triumphs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Roosevelt Memorial. In the spring and summer months, you can also rent paddle boats (or the motorized swan boats) near the Jefferson Memorial for a more bouyant tour of the neighborhood. Insiders Tip: Though this tour takes you to the Tidal Basin in the afternoon, the monuments are also beautiful–and less crowded–by night.
4 p.m. Georgetown
This upscale, quaint, walkable little village promises perfect window-shopping boutiques, delectables from Georgetown Cupcakes to satisfy any sweet tooth, and some of D.C.’s best Happy Hour menus. Insiders Tip: Take the more scenic route to get here and pedal up the Potomac on a bike from Capital Bikeshare. Find a dock, grab a bike, and drop it off at another dock near your destination (and then reward yourself with a cocktail and a cupcake.)
7 p.m. DuPont Dinner, Drinks, and Dancing.
From Georgetown, hop on the Circulator bus to DuPont Circle. This area has plenty of dining options, though my personal favorite is Ping Pong Dim Sum–where modern color takes over the traditional dim sum dining experience. After dinner, grab some drinks at Eighteenth Street Lounge and then continue the night on the rooftop bar at the Washington Hotel. The drinks will dazzle almost as much as the city view. Insiders Tip: Get to the W early for the best rooftop seating–this is a sight you won’t want to miss.
On the ‘In A Day’ series: These guides are created to inspire and act as a loose rubric for a traveler’s day. Please stray from the timeframes, break out of the boxed checklist and explore outside your guidebooks! Each individual experiences new cities with a unique pair of eyes. That being said, tell me about your favorite restaurants, sights, and experiences from D.C. below!