One of the first cities that anyone traveling to the United States should take is to Washington DC. Even if you’re lived in the U.S. your whole life and haven’t made it to the nation’s capital yet, you should put it at the top of your list of places to see. The Smithsonian Museums give free entry, the National Mall is an extraordinary open space with its towering monuments, and the restaurant scene is alive and well in the city these days.
I dare you to run out of things to do in Washington DC. Even if you were to make it through the 50 activities on our to do list, we’ve got 10 more non-touristy things that you should add to the list. There are many neighborhoods to wander around, as well. And then there’s the outlining cities of Alexandria and Arlington to explore!
Here is your one-stop travel guide to Washington DC: The best hotels, things to do, and places to eat and drink in Washington DC and the surrounding area.
What to Do in Washington DC
I know how exciting a trip to the nation’s capital can be. I lived in Washington DC for nearly 10 years. And in that time, I was able to see just about all of the top museums, monuments and neighborhoods. If you’re just spending a few days or weeks in the capital, you need to maximize your time to see as much as possible.
Below are links for our favorite Washington DC tours through Viator and GetYourGuide. You can pre-book these tours to make your itinerary planning easy (note: they are affiliate links from which we’ll earn a small commission).
Don’t forget to get your Washington DC Explorer pass, which will gain you free entry to many popular attractions.
- Customized Private Sightseeing Tour of DC – BOOK HERE
- Viator VIP: Best of DC Including US Capitol and National Archives Reserved Access, the White House and Lincoln Memorial – BOOK HERE
- Washington DC Supersaver: Mount Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery Tour –
Where to Stay in Washington DC
There are a lot of great neighborhoods in Washington where you can stay as a tourist and fully enjoy yourself. Where you stay depends a lot on what you want to do and your budget. It can be expensive to stay right in the city. For budget travelers, it may be more economical to stay outside the city in Arlington or Alexandria and take the Metro in to the city. If you can afford it, try to stay as close to the action as possible. You can see prices or book directly with Expedia through our affiliate links:
We recommend these places to stay in Arlington and Alexandria:
- The Westin Crystal City – Trip Advisor | Booking.com
- Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, Old Town, Alexandria – Trip Advisor | Booking.com
We recommend these places to stay in Washington DC:
- Willard Intercontinental – Trip Advisor | Booking.com
- Sofitel Lafayette Square – Trip Advisor | Booking.com
- W Washigton DC – Trip Advisor | Booking.com
Travel Guide to Washington DC
Before you go: Over 30% off on unforgettable Night Tours in Washington DC
(Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.)
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.