It’s Memorial Day, which means that summer (and summer travel) has officially begun! I haven’t had many notable vacations lately, but I have had quite a few friends come and visit me in DC over the past couple of years.
Though I don’t usually spend much time in the city, when I have guests, I am all about hitting up as many touristy sights as possible. I really think there’s something for everyone, and these are a few of my recommendations.
The Monuments | Especially at Night. It’s a lot of walking, but it’s definitely worth it.
The Zoo | It’s part of the Smithsonian, so it’s free! Plus, there are pandas.
National Archives | They have the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, but they also have some really cool exhibits about amendments and founding documents and such.
Museum of American History | Some exhibits were meh, but I love the First Ladies’ dresses and the Food exhibit.
The National Gallery of Art | I’m usually not a huge fan of art museums, but I must say that this one was pretty cool. We were there for a couple of hours and only saw a fraction of the pieces on display. You can see their current exhibitions here.
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden | I stumbled on this one by accident one day, and it’s very cool. There’s also an ice skating rink there in the winter!
Museum of African American History and Culture | I haven’t been yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. Apparently it’s huge and the material is pretty heavy, but it’s worth it.
The Holocaust Museum | There’s a ton to see and read, and my friends and I took an hour to get through the first floor. (There are 4 floors.) However, I would only recommend going once. The first time is educational and interesting; after that, it’s just depressing.
The Botanical Gardens | I actually think the inside portion is cooler than the outside gardens, so this is definitely a year-round option.
The White House | I’ve never been inside of it (and honestly, I’m not that interested in touring it), but it’s fun to see from the outside. [Note from Matt: He toured the White House in first grade, and he thought it was cool.]
The Cherry Blossoms | They don’t stick around for long, but if you happen to visit on just the right weekend, the majority of the blooming trees are around the Jefferson Memorial/Tidal Basin. (And even if you don’t visit during the festival, there are paddle boats you can take out on the Tidal Basin in the warmer months.)
If you’re looking for more specific recommendations (for example, maybe you, like my mom, want to hit up an art museum a day), the Smithsonian website has information about all of their (free!) offerings. They also have a page with featured events and exhibitions.
There are pretty much always food trucks along the roads in the National Mall, but there are plenty of quick and tasty restaurants if you’re willing to walk a little bit. (Well, a little bit more. There’s already tons of walking involved.)
Cava | It’s like a Chipotle with Mediterranean food, and it’s absolutely delicious. They also have really good juices.
Asia Nine | I’ve only had their sushi, but they offer “a variety of Asian food.” So basically, it’s a solid choice for groups who have a hard time agreeing on one type of cuisine. 🙂
Rosa Mexicana | If you need a guac pick-me-up, this is your place. They also have outside seating, so if it’s a nice day, you can people watch while you eat.
Georgetown Cupcake | It’s a bit out of the way, and the line is usually long, but it’s so delicious. Plus, the menu is different based on what day and month you go, so I always love looking at that.
P.S. You can read about what I did with my friend Gina on her recent trip to see me here. We did some of the things on the list above, and we also did a few out-of-the ordinary ones!