Apr 252012

Wait, don’t I live in Washington, DC?  Well, not really…but right next to it.  So, it feels a bit strange to be making this post…but after having company in town this weekend, I really rediscovered the amazing area I live in.  I have to say that Washington is one of my top 10 cities in the world as far as the number of options on offer to the tourist or local, and the best part is, the vast majority of it is absolutely free.  On that note, I figured I’d offer a few tourist tips from our weekend of exploring:

1)  The Grand Walk – We started this at the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, and walked all the way to the US Capitol.  While there’s not anything in particular to recommend this, what I liked is that it offers a view of “official DC” at its finest.  You start at 23rd and H streets, and on the way down H/Pennsylvania/etc you pass by the George Washington University Campus, the World Bank, the White House, the Embassy of Canada, before you finally get to the Capitol.  Awesome!

2)  Smithsonian Botanical Gardens – it’s not one of the top sites in DC, but the sheer collection of plants, etc is pretty cool.  Plus, it’s “non-traditional” DC.  So many of the sites here are politics, history, etc, that just seeing the gardens and such is really awesome – definitely worth at least 30 minutes!

3)  Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – Now, I’ll admit – after all my years in DC I’d never been here, but it was pretty awesome.  Sure, it’s not modern art on the scale many european cities can offer, but it was still majorly impressive.  I was shocked how empty it was, considering all the tourists out and about on our walk.  It’s definitely under appreciated, and well worth a stop when you’re here.

4)  Natural History Museum – So, who doesn’t like dinosaurs?  And diamonds?  Honestly, this museum felt pretty tired and straight out of the 70s, but there are really two awesome things to see:  the Hope Diamond and the dinosaurs.  It’s hard not to be impressed by either:  one of the most awesome cut diamonds ever, and several large dinosaur skeletons.  It’s amazing, and at least worth a quick stop!

5)  Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial – while none of these require tickets, and the Washington is currently closed to visitors due to earthquake damage, I feel like this is one of the coolest walks in DC.  You can just feel the history as you walk the 1km from the Washington to the Lincoln, and you really get a sense of history and what this great country is all about.  It takes less than an hour, and be sure to spend some time in the Lincoln soaking in the quotes.  It’s an awe-inspiring place for sure.

Next post, I’ll cover more sites in DC we rediscovered this weekend…along with several insider tips we learned that you can plan in advance to really get the most out of your trip.


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