How to Spend A Weekend Sightseeing in Washington D.C.

Sightseeing in DC

I am going to start including more travel posts on my blog! Traveling is my absolute passion and I love discussing my adventures with others. This might end up being super long, but I will be more concise in the future. Please excuse the blurry photos! Please let me know your feedback!

Last August, I decided to visit a friend who works in Washington D.C. Like many people who work in D.C., she actually lives in Virginia and commutes to work each day via the subway because the cost of living in D.C. proper is way too expensive. As such, when I visit my friends, I typically don’t get to do all of the touristy things in D.C. because we end up hanging around on the outskirts of town in Maryland and Virgina. This time, I made it a point to schedule my time well so that I could do some sightseeing. Here is how I spent three action packed days in D.C. and my must do’s (and must don’ts!)

Day 1

I headed to D.C. at noon on a Friday. On the East Coast, the easiest and cheapest mode of travel to get to the major metropolitan areas (D.C., New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philly) is to take the Bolt Bus or the Mega Bus. The Mega Bus offers a better schedule, but their Wi-Fi is spotty, their buses are always late,  and their bathroom facilities are atrocious. I have had much better experiences with Bolt Bus. The other upside to Bolt Bus is that they have a loyalty program and after 8 rides, I believe, you can earn a free trip. I do not recommend driving to D.C. because the traffic is a mess, and you will have difficulty finding parking when you get to D.C. proper. If you are flying to D.C., no need to rent a car because you can take the Metro (the subway) anywhere you want to go. With that said, the D.C. Metro is not the cleanest and is in desperate need of an update, so bring some hand sanitizer!

D.C. Metro Escalator

D.C. Metro Escalator

The bus ride from Philly to D.C. is around 3.5 hours if you factor in traffic. The Bus Drops you off at Union Station, which is D.C.’s main train terminal. There is plenty of food and shopping inside, so if you have some time to kill, I highly recommend walking around in there. My friend, coincidentally also named Sylvia (spelled differently, though), lol, came to pick me up at the train station.

Our first stop was Georgetown. Georgetown is famous for being one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in D.C., for being the home of Georgetown University, and for “Georgetown Cupcakes” (I’ll come back to this Later). We spent some time just milling around, enjoying the sights and sounds, but we quickly became hungry. As we were walking around, I looked to my right and there was a NANDOS! If you know me, you know that I absolutely fell in love with Nando’s during my travels to London. Their chicken and peri peri sauce is out of this world. However, we don’t really have Nando’s in the U.S. except for D.C. and I think a couple other East Coast locations. I grabbed my friend and we went inside. I opted for a salad and some french fries and some chicken as well. I consider myself a pesceterian, but once the craving hit me for some of that peri peri sauce, I caved in and had to have some chicken. It was divine.

After eating, I was mentioning to my friend that I had never seen the White House. We were only a few blocks away, so we were able to go stand outside the gates at night and see it illuminated from all angles. I honestly wasn’t that impressed but I did have a reality check while I was standing there. I will talk about this on the next Mindful Monday!

The White House

The White House

My friend lives in Arlington, Virgina, which is only a few miles from D.C. We opted to walk to her apartment so that we could burn off some of the Nando’s lol. It was late at night and D.C. was sparkling in the moonlight. It was a perfect end to my first day in D.C.

Day 2

We woke up kind of late, and much to our dismay, it was pouring rain outside. It was also super hot, so it was not the best day to do our National Mall sightseeing. We had to re-calculate our whole plans. We decided to spend our day sightseeing indoors. We got brunch at a place in Alexandria, Virgina. I can’t remember the name of it, but that is for the better because the food was not good. I would not recommend it. After eating, we headed to D.C. via the Metro because it was too rainy to walk like we did the day before. Our first stop was the Natural Museum of Natural History. My friend and I are big nerds, so we really enjoyed making our way through all of the science exhibits.

The Hope Diamond was on display.

The Hope Diamond was on display.

Unfortunately, all of D.C. had decided to take refuge from the rain there as well, so it was super busy. Like many museums in D.C., it featured free admission, but it asked for a donation. I donated one dollar, lol. It took us about 3 hours to make it through the entire museum. One of the exhibits was an earthquake recorder. It tracked all of the earthquakes in the world live and displayed them on a map. My friend and I joked to each other, wouldn’t it be cool if a major earthquake appeared on the map while we were standing here? We learned a few hours later that there had been a major earthquake in Northern California. Crazy, right?

I couldn’t stand being around the throngs of screaming children at the museum for much longer, so we ventured out into the rain and went back to Georgetown. We were hungry, so our first stop was a Mediterranean restaurant called Moby Dick’s. The food was cheap and filling. I got a falafel platter and my friend got a falafel dish as well. We split some hummus and pita. I recommend it! Next, I wanted to go to Georgetown Cupcake and get a cupcake. My friend talked me out of it. Number one, the line to enter stretched for blocks. Number two, she said that the cupcakes are tiny and expensive. As a compromise, she let me take a picture of the awning to at least say that I had been to Georgetown Cupcake, lol, but she took me around the block to another cupcake place called Baked and Wired. Although it also had a line, the line moved quickly and there was plenty of seating inside. I am glad that my friend talked me out of going to Georgetown Cupcake because not only were the cupcakes cheaper at Baked and Wired, they were almost 2.5 times the size! I had to eat my cupcake with a fork and knife because it was so big, but it was also delicious! After stuffing ourselves with cupcakes, we strolled along the main shopping street in Georgetown and stopped by Forever 21, Anthropologie and H&M. It started raining even more heavily, so we decided to head back to Arlington and get dinner and watch a movie. It would be a close call, but we would need to squeeze all of our sightseeing into my final day.

Day 3

When I woke up that Sunday, I was delighted to see that the sun was shining and the sky was the most gorgeous shade of blue. Our sightseeing plans would finally become a reality! We got ready and headed out. We didn’t want to waste money on another brunch place that might end up to be mediocre, so we decided to just grab bagels. We sat in the sunshine and ate our quick breakfast, and then headed to the Metro. We rode into D.C. and we went straight to the National Mall. I can’t remember the order in which we made our way around the Mall, but it was breathtakingly beautiful. The last time I had been to the Mall was in 2009 for the inauguration of President Obama, but it was 10 degrees outside and everything was frozen. This was my first time seeing D.C. in full bloom. We went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial.

The National Mall

The National Mall

My favorite by far was the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial. I get chills even thinking about it. It is so beautifully done and the walls of the memorial are etched with his quotes. If you only get to see two memorials, you must head to the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. These two were my favorites. Take your time at the memorials and read the inscriptions and take it all in. D.C. is a really special place and I am so glad that I finally got to see it.

Dr. MLK Jr. Memorial

After our day of viewing the National Mall. We sat down on a park bench near the Washington Monument and did some people watching (and by people watching I mean watched some very handsome men play soccer!) People were outside flying kites, wind surfing, and eating picnics. I only had a couple of hours before I had to head back to Philly, so we decided to get a late lunch.

We headed to Busboy’s and Poets. It is a bookstore, restaurant, and community space that regularly holds events, talks, and social justice related events. The owner even ran for Mayor of D.C. last year! I had actually met him earlier in the year when I visited D.C. for work. I loved the food so much that I wanted to come back and try it again. I got a yummy veggie panini and my friend got a sandwich. I absolutely loved the food and the service here so if you are ever in D.C., make it a point to eat here!

After all of the sights, sounds, and hustle of D.C., I was ready to head back to Philly. We went back to Union Station and I boarded my bus and vowed to return to D.C. again. There is so much more to see and do, and I’m excited to head back there this June!

Do’s: Baked and Wired cupcakes, Walk, Take Advantage of Free Admission to Museums, Busboy’s and Poets, the Dr. MLK Memorial, Bring walking shoes, a hat, and an umbrella!

Don’ts: Rent a car, Georgetown Cupcake, Touch anything in the D.C. Metro (yuck), Talking Loudly at the Memorials (it is considered disrespectful)

Comment Below: What are your favorite things to do in D.C.? Where should I eat when I visit next time?

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One thought on “How to Spend A Weekend Sightseeing in Washington D.C.

  1. Pingback: Mindful Monday: A Reality Check from a Six Year Old | Sly Speaks

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