Five highly recommended things to do in Washington, D.C.

With daily nonstop flights from Wichita to Washington, D.C. through American Airlines, many people may be taking advantage of this new option out of Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower Airport.

If you’ve never considered going to the nation’s capital, I highly urge you to think about it. It’s more than just politics. There’s history, sightseeing, and plenty of food options. We recently made the trip to Washington, D.C., and put together a list of the can’t miss things to do should you go.

Washington, D.C.
Lincoln Memorial

The Monuments and Memorials

If you’re going to Washington, D.C., checking out all the monuments and memorials is a bucket list item, especially for any first-time visits to the capital. Most of them can be found on the National Mall, which extends from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.

Best of all, many of them are free and easy to get to. Once you arrive at the National Mall, you can walk to see many of them or rent a bike.

And don’t worry about the time of day. For example, the Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We stopped by in the afternoon as well as the evening.

Washington, D.C.
Looking across the Reflecting Pool at the Washington Monument

Walking and taking in all the sights is quite breathtaking and relaxing.

Stop by at least a couple of Museums

Washington, D.C. boasts over 70 unique museums, with many of the popular ones belonging to the Smithsonian Institute.

Like the monuments and memorials, many of them are free to enter. And with so many to choose from, there is a museum to fit any interests. There’s the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of American History, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art. Any of these free museums, plus the ones not listed, should be a part of any trip to DC.

National Museum of Natural History

One of our first visits in Washington, D.C. took us to the National Museum of Natural History.

One of the free offerings in the capital, this museum has over 146 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts. It’s the largest natural history collection in the world. To add to the credibility, it’s also home to 185 professional natural history scientists—the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world.

National Museum of American History

Get around the city by bicycle

I would plan to stay near or around downtown D.C… We opted to stay at a hotel in Georgetown which was a short bike ride to everything we wanted to visit.

We found the most economical and sometimes fastest way to get from place to place was by bike.

Capital Bikeshare stands could be found throughout the city. It was very accessible and easy to find via the mobile app.

Individual bike rides were roughly $2, or you could get a daily pass for $8.

The city is extremely biker-friendly with many bike lanes and drivers respectable of bicyclists.

Nearly everything we wanted to visit was within 1–3 miles, which made for bike rides ranging anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Sometimes we did use Uber. For example, one night it rained, and we found our Uber rides to be longer travel times than a bike.

We biked for probably 85% of the trip. For the remainder of it, we walked or splurged and sometimes used a scooter. But seriously, if you can ride a bike, it’s a great option.

Changing of the Guard

Probably the most moving and respected part of our trip was the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

We started our visit by doing one of the trolley tours around the cemetery, which was the final resting place for more than 14,000 veterans, including those who fought in the Civil War. Something worthy to note, Arlington conducts between 27 and 30 funeral services each day.

Arlington National Cemetery

And while you’re at Arlington National Cemetery, you have to stop by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witness the Changing of the Guard.

Twenty-four hours a day, soldiers stand watch over the Tomb.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier takes place every on the hour and is open to the public for most of the year.

It’s a true sight to behold as you watch one Tomb Guards, also known as Sentinels, relieve the other of their duties.

Eating

What trip isn’t complete without eating?

When it comes to restaurants, the northeast part of the country is home to some of the best eats. Many of them can be found right in Washington, D.C. What’s great about the city is how eclectic and diverse it is.

My favorite restaurant, and a must anytime I’m in the city, is Old Ebbitt Grill. It’s the city’s oldest saloon and basically across the street from the White House. Every time I go, it’s oysters…. lots of it.

Old Ebbitt Grill

Honestly, you could spend a lifetime trying to visit every restaurant in the city. There are so many good options. We visited some other establishments, including Le Diplomate, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, and Sushi Taro.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
Additional tidbits you may want to know

We flew into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. After that, it was about a 20-30 minute drive to our hotel.

Choosing a hotel was quite overwhelming. But after lots of research, we settled upon The Fairmont in Georgetown. Their room rates were ultra-competitive, and we saved hundreds of dollars staying in Georgetown versus downtown D.C.

There were bike and scooter stations nearby which made for a 15-minute bike ride. If you wanted to Uber instead, it was roughly $10 depending on the time of day.

Fairmont Hotel

The hotel had a bar, a wonderful complimentary breakfast buffet, great water pressure in the showers and a comfy bed.

If you’re looking to tour the White House, plan that months ahead as you need to get clearance for that.

Otherwise, we highly recommend visiting Washington, D.C. It wasn’t my first time to the capital, and hopefully, it isn’t my last.

To learn more about American Airlines’ daily nonstop flight from Wichita to D.C. or to book your flight, visit flywichita.com.


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