Welcome to Washington, DC, our nation’s capital. I’m about to hit my 6-month anniversary living here, (wow, it’s been that long?) so i thought I’d put together a quick list of 10 things to do in DC for the summer. And, believe it or not, not everything has to do with the national monuments. Check out the inside scoop on what to do in DC!
I figured we should organize this chronologically, just in case you have an entire free day and want to cram 10 activities into 24ish hours!
1. Eat breakfast at Tryst
Whether you want to start your morning off with a cappuccino or a mimosa, Tryst is the perfect place. I know I’ve already talked about Tryst (check out my chai obsessions) but this cafe is really my second home. It’s in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, easily accessible by Metro or bus, and a two-minute walk from my apartment. Tryst has a lovely deck that sticks out into the sidewalk of 18th Street, and is optimal for taking in the not-yet-too-humid weather and endless people watching opportunities. I recommend the chai and granola with yogurt and fruit — a healthy and delicious start to your big day!
2. Walk to the National Zoo
The zoo is walkable from Tryst and the Adams Morgan neighborhood, and I’d recommend doing this before 11AM or so, just to avoid heat stroke. But the zoo is a must-see. It’s free admission for everyone, and you can see Bao Bao, the famous baby panda!! Seriously, the highlight of my DC experience has been watching Bao Bao try to climb up some bamboo and fall down. The giraffes and elephants are really silly, too.
3. Head to the National Mall and check out the Smithsonian Museums
Use the time around noon to check out a museum or two, and save the monumenting for a nighttime adventure. (I’ll get to that later) My personal favorites are the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum. American History has Dorothy’s ruby slippers,the original Kermit and the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, and Natural History is just cool. The museums are free, and a great way to take a break from the humidity.
4. Go paddle-boating in the Tidal Basin
I promise, the touristy things will be done soon. But I promise, paddle-boating is so fun! It’s a great way to get some exercise, bask in the sun and check out the Jefferson Memorial from the water. Maybe (hopefully) there will be a breeze to help you cool off midday, and it’s a great first/second/third date! It will also help you work up your appetite for lunch. Speaking of…
5. Grab some food at Truckeroo
Truckeroo is a food truck “festival” in DC. It takes place across from the Navy Yard metro station, and features over 20 different food trucks. It’s a great way to sample local chefs and food artisans, to sit by the water, and observe DC folk in their natural habitats. Yum!
6. Head to Georgetown to go shopping
Georgetown is a sweet little neighborhood in DC that’s home to Georgetown University and the wealthiest of the wealthy. The main street, M Street, is full of expensive and fun shopping and cute cafes. I prefer to window shop, and then to check out the Georgetown Flea Market. This is cheaper and more exciting — make some goals for yourself to find weird items, like an antique clock or brass sculpture. This will also force you to stay out in the sun, get tan and avoid the instincts to become AC-loving couch potatoes.
7. Stop at Baked and Wired for an afternoon cupcake
I don’t care what anyone says, if you have only a day or two in DC, do not go to Georgetown Cupcakes. The line is long, it’s extraordinarily touristy and there’s limited seating. Instead, check out Georgetown’s hidden gem, Baked and Wired. The cupcakes are to die for, and their Hippie Crack (granola) is even better. Grab a coffee or tea, snack on a cupcake and take in scenic Georgetown down by the canal. It’s a perfect break from all the walking you’ve been doing.
8. Stop at a Farmer’s Market
Let’s face it, you’ve had a pretty food-filled day. Stopping at a farmer’s market seems like the last thing you’d want to do, but I promise that the fresh produce and sunshine is worth it. Pick out some fruits and veggies to pack for a picnic later. The best thing is, DC has tons of markets to choose from, for whichever location best suits your needs.
9. Go to Jazz in the Garden
I told you the farmer’s market would come in handy. Bring a picnic, and sit in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden for an evening filled with smooth jazz, sangria and good company. This jazz “festival” is a must-do when you go to DC and experience the local culture. Luck you, you won’t be at work, so you can beat the crowd who wants to get there right as the music’s starting. But wherever your seats are, I promise it’ll be a great time!
10. Go nighttime monumenting
Back to the National Mall for monumenting! The sites are infinitely more beautiful and impactful at night, and you’ll avoid a lot of the crowds and heat that you’d experience during the day. It’s also a great way to try to work off some of the food you ate. Your day will also end on a very patriotic and quintessentially DC note. After monumenting, if you want to head out for a nightcap at literally any bar or cafe that has a rooftop, go for it. Otherwise, the monuments are a perfect end to a perfect day.
Lovelies, any other ideas for adventures in DC? Have you done any of these that I listed?