Updated: Nov 24, 2019
No matter how well you THINK you plan, unplanned or over-planned... You know what I am talking about. Washington D.C. was a loosely planned trip but here are some important things to know when you head to the wonderful capital...
1. THERE ARE SO MANY MONUMENTS! If you think you want to just see the Lincoln Memorial or Washington Monument, you'd be shorting yourself all the areas to explore. One of the best things that we did around town was to rent their bikes. They nearly have them in every main area. There is the WWII memorial, President Roosevelt memorial, Martin Luther King Jr., President Thomas Jefferson's memorial-- the list goes on. So pull out Google Maps and take a gander at what there is around you, simply search for monuments. All monuments are free to view. The bikes are approximently $7 to rent but be wary of the additional costs that accrue after 30 minutes. Biking at a decent pace will get you anywhere under that time.
2. Parking sucks. Let's face it. I thought I was going to get away with parking at the hotel. Yes, they say they offer it, but realistically, I'd have to sacrifice my first born (if I had one). So pre-plan your parking! I cannot stress that out. You're going to pay about $45/ night. Make sure that if you do get parking, you can go in and out of the parking facility at your leisure. We stayed at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel and that was a fiasco. Sunday's you can park on the street for free. Check the meters to see when they stop charging on Saturday night and if you can snag a spot to avoid paying another overnight. And yes, the mall parking lot charges the same amount to go there.
3. Do you want to visit the Capitol? Make sure you contact your State Representative to request tickets to access the facility ahead of time-- like a month at least. I would highly recommend this! You can get an awesome tour of where President Washington was supposed to be buried, state statues, painting, or even where the Supreme Court originally ruled their decisions. Ask your tour guide questions, I found those details to be interesting.
4. Do you want to visit the White House? Make sure you contact your State Representative MONTHS in advance!!! They have to do an extensive background check to make sure you aren't a lunatic. We are talking about the White House people! I don't know why I didn't discover this sooner. I am in the military and didn't even know this was a thing. Trust me it was an annoying fact. However, a co-worker told when he used to work at the White House, he said the most beautiful time to visit there was during Christmas. I can only imagine the spirit of the house!
5. There are free museums everywhere. So. Many. Smithsonian's. If you are visiting during the warmer months, this is a great place to cool off and get some education. While the museum's are free and totally worth a peak, my FAVORITE place is The Library of Congress. It had color everywhere, filled with mosaic's, wonderful sayings and tons of history. I would recommend the tour so make sure you take cash with you and check the times. You could plan accordingly.