Things to do in Washington, DC

Note: this page will not list every place that I ever went to. I will continue to update these links with new information so come back often!

Air & Space Museum is one of the popular Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, however, there are two locations. When our visitors have been to the museum on the National Mall we switch it up and head to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (pictured below) near Dulles Airport. The Virginia location has hundreds of aircraft and spacecraft on display in two hangers. The Space Shuttle Discovery and the Concord are a must see, in addition to the photo opportunity near the Discovery. The Virginia location entry is free, however there is a $15 per car parking fee.

The U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast, DC has been on my list of things to do for quite some time. We finally went to visit in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main attractions is a set of 22 columns that were once part of the U.S. Capitol Building. If you have the time, explore the trails and pathways throughout the property.

ARTECHOUSE is an innovative art and technology experience located in Southwest, DC with rotating exhibits. We have been twice in May 2019 and February 2020 and recommend pairing it with a visit the DC Wharf.

Axe Throwing at Kraken Axes near Metro Center/Chinatown area.

City Center is a great spot for dining, shopping, and people watching. The rotating outdoor displays are Instagram worthy experiences.

A short walk away from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate, library, museum, and garden now owned by Harvard University . We visited during the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020 and could only explore the park and nearby trails.

I have been to Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest, DC many times over the years but never took time for a tour to learn more about the buildings and area. We found a really great Embassy Row Self-Guided Walking Tour and set out to explore in May 2020. This was on the early side of the COVID-19 pandemic so there are zero tourists or other people in the background of my pictures. The area around Dupont Circle is usually a very congested area for future reference.

The Kennedy Center for performing arts recently expanded their outdoor space. Overlooking the Potomac River you can grab a drink or snack at Victura Park at the REACH or walk through the outdoor space if you are on your way to the monuments or Georgetown.

A great way to see some sights while getting some exercise is to walk from the Kennedy Center towards Georgetown. Cross the Key Bridge into Rosslyn and head towards Roosevelt Island where you can stop to explore or keep going. There are great views of Georgetown and the Potomac River from this location. You can enter back into DC by crossing the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge near the Kennedy Center (above). You can also do this loop in reverse.

In December 2018, we took a tour of the Library of Congress when it was decorated for the holidays. I don’t usually like guided tours but the lady who led the tour was super passionate about the building and exhibits that I listened to her every word and recommend taking the tour.

The Washington National Cathedral located on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest, DC is a great place to visit even if you only explore the grounds. From studying in the gardens when I attended American University to simply admiring the architecture twenty years later this is one place that I continue visiting. Restoration efforts are still in progress from a 2011 earthquake in the DC area (top middle picture below from May 2020).

Flanked by museums and monuments, the National Mall is a must see even if you just explore the grounds. Most of these photos were taken during the COVID-19 pandemic where the crowds were less and the grass was greener. I recommend prioritizing museums during the day and sticking around for sunset or coming back after dinner to see the monuments at night.

Tours of the United States Capitol are temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have taken the tour twice and recommend checking back to see if tours are back up and running. The tour includes visiting the Crypt, the Rotunda, and National Statuary Hall.

Seasonal Things to Do in DC

Likely cheering for the Phillies, but you might find me at a Washington Nationals game at Nationals Park.

Every year from 1988 through 2019, bikers would come to DC in May for Rolling Thunder, a demonstration in support of veterans, prisoners of war and service members who went missing in action. Thousands of bikers would assemble at the Pentagon and ride through a designated area around the National Mall to the cheers of those in attendance lined up along the city streets.

Similar to Top Golf, Top Golf CRUSH took place at Nationals Park in August 2019. Your group gathered at a bay in the stands and aimed at targets in the outfield. Super fun experience.

Washington Football Team game at Fedex Field in Landover, MD, where I’m likely to root for the Eagles or Giants. We last went in December 2020 when the team was known as the Washington Redskins.

We went to Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park in December 2019 to experience a Christmas themed light maze and village with local vendors at the Christmas Market. Supposedly it is coming back in 2021.

The United States Botanical Garden is still closed indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however the outdoor garden is open. I love their seasonal indoor displays and hope they are able to resume in the future. Below are photos from their holiday display in December 2018.

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