Washington DC Travel Tips: 10 Things to Know Before You Go to DC

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Published on December 22, 2017 by Chris

Things you NEED to know BEFORE you go to Washington DC. DC is often referred to as “The District.” You could easily spend a week in DC, especially if you want to see George Washington’s house in Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s house in Monticello. The City is laid out in a grid pattern with lettered streets running east-west, numbered streets running north-south. Diagonal streets — usually named after states — often intersect at circles (30 circles)
Dupont Circle is my favorite circle. Comprised of four quadrants (NE, NW, SE, and SW), which spread out from the U.S. Capitol.

Getting in
There are three Airports — none of them actually in DC
Reagan (DCA) — right next to DC — connected by Metro or $20 Cab Ride
Washington Dulles (IAD)
Baltimore-Washington (BWI)
Amtrak to Union Station
Or Drive

Transportation in DC
Walk
One of the 10 of the most walkable cities in the USA
Travel + Leisure rated D.C. as the third rudest city in America,
Metro
Smart Trip Card

Capital Bike Share
175 stations across the city
Sign up for a day, or three
Taxis/Uber plentiful
Driving: Beware — traffic is miserable and oneway streets abound
Parking is expensive — Use parking panda

Museums
Smithsonians are free
Most on the national mall
Air and Space has 2 locations — one by Dulles
Newseum and Spy Museum are expensive
My favorite is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
No reservations required September 5, 2017 through March 2, 2018
Washington Monument elevator is really cool — but it’s often broken
Best gift shops are in the museums

Government Stuff
Capitol Building or the White House, make sure to book your tickets in advance.
Capitol tour, reservations online or through your Congressional representative or senator.
Capitol Visitor Center provides a limited number of day-passes starting at 9 a.m.
White House, reserve a few months before your trip. Thru congressional representative.

Time to visit
Cherry Blossom Season
Not the summer when all the school kids are there
And the Summer is oppressively hot and humid, especially in August
And maybe not when the govt is in full swing
I like Winter — no crowds at all

Hotels
Can be really expensive, as can parking
My favorites are the Park Hyatt and the Mayflower
Stay outside of DC in Arlington or Alexandria for cheaper hotels
Just a short metro ride in to the city

Food
The national mall and monument area has almost no food
Union Station and Le’fant plaza good for lunch, or around the white house
Avoid the Chinese food in Chinatown — it’s all really awful
But George Bush’s favorite Chinese restaurant is just 20 minutes driving outside of DC
Peking Gourmet Inn in Fall Church — Awesome Peking Duck
My Favorites: Potbelly
My Favorites: Moby Dick House of Kabob
My Favorites: Ben’s Chili Bowl

DC is more than just monuments and the National Mall
Get out and see the real DC
Georgetown
Penn Quarter
Adams Morgan
Smithsonian Zoo
U Street
Walk the red line

Timecodes:
DC General: 00:27
DC City Layout: 01:37
Getting in to DC: 02:35
Transportation in DC: 03:59
DC Museums: 06:02
Government Stuff: 08:51
Best time to visit DC: 10:05
DC Hotels: 11:43
DC Food: 13:51
The Rest of DC: 18:20

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