To be completely clear, my knowledge of American history and politics goes as far as National Treasure and House of Cards. So exploring DC was a real eye-opener, especially the tour at the US Capitol (cue HoC theme song).
Washington DC is super manicured. By that I mean everything has been specifically laid out and designed in a way to ensure maximum efficiency. The White House is super central and all the major sights are within walking distance to one another and all the museums are clumped together.
And speaking of walking you definitely do not need to use the subway while in DC. It’s pretty much flat so it’s super easy to get from A to B. By the time you walk to the nearest subway stop you’re already about 80% of the way to the destination. We managed to fit in all the big sites – White House, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Ford’s Theatre- within a few hours.
One of my favourites was the Library of Congress which is actually one of the most beautiful libraries out and with such a vast collection of books. It’s adjoining to the Capitol and right next to the US Supreme Court (I told you the city was perfectly manicured).
Also be sure visit the National Archives Building which is home to three of the most important documents of the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights and the Constitution. There were a lot of school groups during the time we were there and I overheard one girl tell her teacher about how Benjamin Gates managed to steal the declaration and find a treasure map on the back. Faith in future generations restored.
There are so many museums on offer (and they’re all free!). I highly recommend the Smithsonian Air + Space Museum. It’s perfect for all the adult-sized children out there. If you’ve ever been to Canberra it’s like Questacon but only 1000x cooler. Simulations, presentations, demonstrations, all the -tions.
The other museum we visited was the Smithsonian American History Museum. They have a few cool exhibitions include one on the First Ladies, Presidents of the United States and a history of food and dining in America.
Food in DC is pretty average – the vibe altogether is very different to that of New York City. It’s much quieter, conservative. Suburban almost.
Buuuuuuuuut in saying that I did really enjoy this meal from Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken (right by Metro Center Metro). Lettuce, tomato, fried chicken, sriracha mayo in between two pieces of brioche donut? Hell to the yes.
We stayed at the Hostel International on 11th St and it was great – good location, clean, friendly staff, free wi-fi, breakfast included.
If you’re going to make a detour to Washington DC I’d say three days is more than enough unless you want to explore Georgetown/see more of the museums.