Things to do in Washington, DC

Things to do in Washington, DC

If a trip to Washington DC to catch an NFL game is something you’ve been thinking about, read on. This guide will help you make the most on exploring the area. So grab a brew, sit back, relax and enjoy reading the best things to do whilst you’re there.

Before I get started, the Washington Redskins play a 40 minute drive away from the city itself, so you’ll need to consider a combo of bus and taxi ride options to get you there.

So… back to exploring the city. I visited DC back in May 2019 with my husband, as we have friends here, and I really didn’t know what to expect and probably assumed there would be very little to do but it’s one of my favourite cities and I’d highly recommend visiting. 

We were lucky in that we were in DC for a week and so had plenty of time to explore, and go off the beaten track. So I’ve put together the best things to do in Washington DC. It’s easy to ride the Metro or hop on a bike, or even walk and explore all that the nation’s capital has to offer. You’ll be able to walk the halls of Smithsonian museums (it’s free!), get a paddle boat on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, or do the typical tourism bus to soak up as much history in as little time as possible. 

Exploring Washington, DC‘s tourist spots

I’m going to start off with highlighting some of the absolute must-see tourist posts…

  • Lincoln Memorial: The Lincoln Memorial is an American national memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. Fun fact. There are 38 Doric columns, 36 of which signify the states in the Union at the time Lincoln passed away. The most captivating time to visit would be after dark when it is lit and less crowded. But it’s beautiful either way, night or day!
  • Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials: One of the most moving war memorials, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – or “the Wall,” as it’s commonly referred to – is a long black granite wall with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who perished during the Vietnam War emblazoned on its surface. It is located in Washington, D.C.’s West Potomac Park, southeast of the Lincoln Memorial and just south of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall.
  • The Tidal Basin: The Tidal Basin is a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel in Washington, D.C. It is part of West Potomac Park and is a focal point of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring. The Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the George Mason Memorial are situated adjacent to the Tidal Basin.
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the Air and Space Museum. It was established in 1946 as the National Air Museum and opened its main building on the National Mall near L’Enfant Plaza in 1976. It contains a trove of celebrated aircraft, including Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and Wilbur and Orville Wright’s 1903 Wright Flyer, among others. 
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Located on the National Mall, the museum has free admission and is open 364 days a year. Its collections contain over 145 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, the largest natural history collection in the world. It is also home to about 185 professional natural history scientists—the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture: Designed to replicate the three-tiered crowns found in Yoruban art from West Africa, with bronze-colored latticework accents that honor the United States’ slave roots, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture opened on the National Mall in 2016. More than 36,000 African American artifacts are displayed inside, including photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a fedora once worn by Michael Jackson.
  • The White House and the Washington Monument: Even if you’re only in town for a short trip, visiting the Washington Monument and the White House – two marbleized symbols of the free world – is a must for any first-time D.C. visitor. At 555 feet and 5 inches, the Washington Monument (at its completion in 1884) was the tallest structure in the world. 
  • U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress: Arguably the most magnificent building in Washington, the U.S. Capitol is where visitors go to witness politics in action. Inside, members of both houses of Congress debate and create national policy and law, while visitors explore the building’s north and south wings and circular centerpiece: the Rotunda. I absolutely recommend visiting here, it really is something else.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: Located beside the Tidal Basin, this 30-foot-high granite memorial pays homage to civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Everything from its address at 1964 Independence Ave. to its design are meant to reflect King’s significant contribution to American history. 

Off the beaten track in Washington DC

With tourism out of the way, I’ve got some ‘off the beaten track’ recommendations for you…

  • Visit District Wharf on the Southwest Waterfront: Here you’ll find an insane amount of options for food – from fancy paella at Del Mar, to Afro-Caribbean delights at Kith/Kin. I’d highly recommend enjoying drinks and the view of the water from the rooftop patio at Whiskey Charlie.
  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria: Our friends brought us to this area for brunch, it was so picturesque, full of cobblestone streets and red brick sidewalks. It’s just a short drive or a water taxi ride away from DC and has beautiful restaurants, boutiques, and museums.
  • Eat your way around a food hall – the city is full of them: Within the city there’s the tried and true Eastern Market on Capitol Hill, the family-friendly Union Market with its 200-year legacy, and newcomer La Cosecha practically right next door — a Latin American food hall and marketplace. Plus the suburban outlier and Asian food hub The Block in Annandale, and Tastemakers in Brookland. You’re spoilt for choice!
  • Drink your way through DC’s wine country in Loudoun County: You must make time to visit the green rolling hills of the Northern Virginia countryside where there are wineries everywhere you turn. Some highlights include Greenhill, Tarara, Stone Tower, Quattro Goomba’s, and North Gate. If you don’t feel like leaving the city, you can always sip a DC-made rosé on the southeast waterfront at District Winery.
  • Do a distillery crawl in Ivy City: This area is the unofficial distillery district, with four within walking distance from one another. There’s Green Hat, One Eight, Republic Restoratives, and Jos. A. Magnus. And throw Atlas Brew Works in the mix for good measure.

Check out this video on things to do in Washington DC by An Adventurous World

We even took a train to Baltimore one day which was around an hour and a half away, and drove out to Philadelphia for another (3hr drive one way!). So depending on how long you’re in the area for, you can certainly explore further afar. 

Thinking of taking a trip stateside? Check out the Travel section to discover more about your team, it’s stadium and the incredible city they call home.

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