A city, a district that is rich in history, people, and endless things to do whether you’re a history buff or not. The streets are cobblestone, homes are rows upon rows of…row homes, and culture & diversity are abundant. I had never been to this busy, trendy, yet historic city before, but I am extremely glad I was able to visit our nation’s capital. A friend and I decided spontaneously on February 14, Valentine’s Day, that we were going to go visit a mutual friend who was interning at the National Rural Health Institute this summer. Boy am I glad we did. I learned quite a bit about our country in our short few days at our nation’s capital. With this, I took away a few things that may help you if you decide to visit this beautiful place.
ONE: FLY INTO BWI
Flying into Washington, DC from ND was not the most cost-effective option, but flying into Baltimore was MUCH better (not to mention the usage of SkyMiles). Regardless, if you want to visit DC, I recommend looking for tickets for Baltimore-Washington International airport and then taking the $8 MARC train into DC from the airport. If you have the luck I had, it will probably be much more affordable than flying into Reagan.
Like most big cities, taking the subway/metro/tube/ ETC is probably your best bet of getting from destination A –> B in terms of cost, time, and experience. Navigating the Metro is easy, in fact, the most difficult thing you might have to do is change trains to get to your final destination. Riding the Metro is what the people of that city do every day. Sure, you’re a tourist and just visiting, and yep, you probably look like one too, but you’ll get to see what the locals do as well as feel the vibes of the city.
THREE: FOOD TRUCKS
Like most big cities, one could argue that everything is expensive in DC. This includes food. But on Urban Street, you’ll find an abundance of food trucks. Food truck food tends to be less expensive than dining in, and it’s usually fresh. We ate on Urban Street twice – the first time I got a chicken burrito bowl with kimchi, and the second, rice and garlic ginger spinach, broccoli, and cabbage. Each of my meals were between $7-8, were huge portions, and very, very, very delicious.
FOUR: AIR B&B
I’m sure that not everyone’s experience with Air B&B is amazing, but we could not have been more satisfied with our stay. This is an affordable option for travelers that gives you something hotels don’t: being in a neighborhood. With residents of that neighborhood. Ours was in the basement of a red row home, included wifi, metro cards, and bike passes. On top of this, we were in the middle of a beautiful historic neighborhood staying amongst the locals. If you’re interested in our exact spot, (which I totally recommend), click here.
FIVE: NATIONAL MALL
Do your research ahead of time on which monuments and museums you would like to see while you’re visiting the area. I was in DC for 4 full days, saw plenty, and didn’t see even more. If you weren’t previously informed, the monuments and museums are all free admission. Hell yes. We made it to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (get your free tickets ahead of time!), the Museum of Natural History, the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. Absolutely beautiful and so very beautifully American.
- Gelato at Pitango nearly nightly; the espresso flavor is to die for.
- The Food exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It displays the different changes in our country’s food system throughout the years including cooking devices like the George Foreman grill, as well as the evolution of the government-issued food pyramids over across history.
- The shops in Georgetown as well as Georgetown Cupcakes. It’s a must.
- George Washington University’s Medical Campus and seeing the emergency department where Ronald Reagan was taken after being shot (and saved), in the 1980s.
- The Lincoln Memorial – it’s HUGE, dare I say monumental. 😉 Way bigger than I had pictured in my 8th grade US History class.
As mentioned previously, you cannot leave this city saying you’ve “done it all.” It’s not possible. The key is to get the most out of your experience. 🙂 If you’re heading to our nation’s capital for vacation or a conference, I hope this helps you get the most out of it.
Cheers, and happy travels!