Day One – Monuments & Memorials
There’s no better way to kick off a trip than with an over-indulgent breakfast. In D.C there are plenty of places that offer brunch on a daily basis. But why do brunch when you can do as the locals do and pop into a deli for a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich?
Although their appearance may seem a little dodgy, inside you’ll find some truly delicious greasy food for a decent price. It’s also a chance to pick something up for later if you want to save some dollars on lunch.
First stop of the day is Union Station which also serves as the starting point of the hop-on-and-off Big Bus tour. Now, you may be thinking “Pffft bus tour? Nah, that’s not the best way to see the city.” Well to you folks I will heavily debate on this point, as I discovered that D.C isn’t that small. If you’re only here for two days a bus tour allows you to get a feel for all the sights, thus helping you plan what you want to see.
Don’t jump on the bus straight away, as Union Station itself deserves a spot on your two days in Washington itinerary. Big and beautiful the city’s main station boasts an interesting array of architectural style. Imagine magnificent Italian Renaissance details but bigger, lots of large marble pillars and a concourse area worthy of its own Instagram snap. When you’ve reached your limit of awe head towards to the bus stop outside the main hall and start exploring the rest of D.C.
But where to hop off? I would recommend stopping at the world’s largest Illuminati symbol, the Washington Monument. An object which is looks humble in photograph but is actually quite impressive in person. Once you’ve done a circle of it and have taken in all its pointy glory take a stroll up to the Lincoln Memorial.
Or if you want to visit The National Museum of African American History and Culture, it’s located next to the Washington Memorial. Although you should book tickets a few months in advance. You can get tickets on the day at 6 AM but these can be hard to come by.
On route to the Lincoln Memorial you’ll come across The National WW2 Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Before you enter the Lincoln Memorial in all its glory, prepare yourself for the largest volume of school children you could ever imagine. Then double that figure.
Do take your time inside the Lincoln Memorial as the statue does deserve a decent amount of “oooing” and “ahhing”. Read his most famous quotes which are engraved on the walls on each side of Lincoln. Take the time to walk around the outside of the L.M. too, where you can see the Potomac river and admire the perfectly maintained landscape of central D.C.
Next stop, the one, the only, White House. Just hop on the next tour bus going and with a few minutes drive down Constitution Avenue you’ll be there. Don’t be afraid to fight your way to the front of the crowd to catch a good glimpse of the house. Do make sure you don’t get too close, however, as no one enjoys being yelled at by the army. You don’t need to spend a lot of time here, best just to see, snap, and be on your way.
Round off the day of sightseeing by taking a trip to Arlington Cemetery, the national resting place for the military. Whether you agree with the wars America has participated in or not, it’s a must-see on any trip to Washington. It’s is eerie, it’s beautiful, and it’s a strong reminder of the cost of war. I would take an hour or two just to walk the grounds. The likes of JFK and Jackie Kennedy are buried here. But the tomb of the unknown soldier was one of my most memorable moments during my two days in Washington D.C. Try to time your visit to coincide with the changing of the guard.
Day Two – Museums & More
Rise and shine it’s time to explore the centre of American politics, Capitol Hill. If you’ve planned your trip well in advance you can grab a tour of one of the most politically significant places in the world. If you don’t have a tour booked you can still check out the visitor’s centre which has a decent gift shop and a canteen.
Just a twenty-minute walk away is the epicentre of nerds a.k.a The National Air & Space Museum. I don’t believe it matters where you stand on the nerd-o-metre, this is one of the coolest museums on Earth, and maybe even our solar system. The massive building hosts 1000’s of air and space artefacts, from the St. Louis to moon rocks, they’ve got it all.
Skip across the National Mall to get to The National Archives, home to the original Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Although worn in appearance, they symbolise the beginning of the USA so it’s a must see for a history nerd. That’s not the only thing to see in the National Archives. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much documents can give you perspective when looking at history, such as receipts for slave owners and politically-fuelled letters written from the women’s rights movement.
If you still have time left over then run through The National Museum of American History. Sadly I didn’t get too much time to explore the museum (13 minutes to be precise), however, it does house the outfits of ex-presidents and first ladies. As the cherry on top, you can even see Abe Lincoln’s hat. What else would you want to see in D.C?
Wind down your two days in Washington D.C. with a gander around the shops at Dupont Circle. This rather boho part of the D.C. is filled with chic cafes and really cool shops. Like this late night bookshop I stumbled upon called Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe.
The bookshop is open until 1 AM most nights of the week so you can pop in after dinner or if you get an intense urge to pick up a literary masterpiece. They even have a cafe in the back which is the ideal setting for a brunch and book reading. Name me a better way to finish a trip to D.C? No please do I’d like to know. 🙂