Tips for Your First Visit to Washington DC

Washington DC, the literal capital of America, is so profoundly steeped with history and art and culture that you could spend a lifetime there and never stop being surprised.  If you’re planning your first trip, you may be considering sticking to the classic stops, places you know from movies and television as hot destinations: but there’s more to DC than the Lincoln Memorial!  Here are some tips for your trip and general ideas to make the most of your vacation.

Drive-In Or Rent A Car

If you’re planning on flying in and letting an Uber or Lyft driver ferry you between destinations, you should reconsider.  Washington DC is a sprawling city that isn’t made to be walkable or even driveable.  Although some museums and parks are clustered together, you’re better off driving for yourself.  A day of Ubering around could cost over a couple of hundred dollars, while a rental car is often only fifty to sixty a day plus gasoline.  If you can drive yourself into town, that’s even more savings you can put towards food and souvenirs.

Plan Breathing Breaks

If you’re going from museum to museum or sight to sight, you’re going to wear yourself thin and not enjoy yourself.  Plan your days with breaks in the middle.  If you’re going to spend the morning speedrunning museums, consider spending the afternoon in one of the beautiful national parks or gardens, enjoying the views and taking it slow.  There’s a lot you can pack into a day if you plan wisely and don’t wear yourself too thin.

Pick Only Two Must-Haves Per Day

By a must-have, I mean places that you need to go or you’ll be disappointed.  This plan gives you a loose schedule where you can enjoy happening upon beautiful art centers or restaurants you might not have seen on a regular tourist trap website.  This plan also gives you wiggle room if something doesn’t work out or an exhibit is closed because you can move things around and still make the most of your vacation.

Pack Sunscreen

You may not think you need it, the clouds may be covering the sky, and it might not feel that hot out: but you can get a sunburn even in February.  Pack sunscreen, and if you’re planning on spending more than twenty minutes outside, spread some of that sunscreen on any exposed skin.  You may not be looking at Washington, DC houses for sale– but you should be thinking about your future.  Even one bad sunburn can double your chances of skin disease.

Plan Your Meals and Breaks To Avoid Rush Hours

Traffic in Washington DC is notoriously bad, with enough car crashes in a day to outdo some states.  To avoid this, plan your meals before rush hours, and avoid being on the road between four and seven.  You can get food to go, and enjoy walking through a national park during these times- or you could instead plan that time as when you’ll go to a museum- they’re usually emptier during rush hours.