5 Tips on Visiting D.C.
- Bring comfortable all day walking shoes
- I can’t tell you how many people think flip-flops and sandals are all day kinds of shoes. THAT’S A LIE. Bring supportive tennis shoes, a good quantity of socks, and yes, accept the fact you’ll end up with a bad tan line (in the summer of course!)
- Map out your sights for the whole time you’ll be visiting, and each day go over your initial plan.
- Some people plan every minute of every day, some just plan on how many things they’d like to accomplish but not when they’ll do it, and some people I know wake up when they want and haphazardly make it through the day and somehow do one or two things they’d like to do. I’m somewhere inbetween person one and person two. Person three makes me absolutely crazy.
- A plan of what you’d like to accomplish is an important step, and helps you visually decide your daily sight-seeing. I’d suggest putting things together that are close to each other, but don’t expect Arlington Cemetery to only take an hour, because you never know who’ll want to spend more time here, take an unplanned walking tour to Iwo Jima monument and skip down to a Metro stop you didn’t expect to use. I didn’t know Iwo Jima could be accessed through the right side of the cemetery, but I took advantage of that and walked there next. Something I’m glad I didn’t miss! (As you can see in the picture)
- Remember, as Americans we can get stuck on a this must happen when it should happen very easily. Accept that sometimes, God wants you to smell the roses, even if those metaphorical roses are the Holocaust Museum, the Smithsonians, or JFK’s eternal light.
- Do buy Metro cards for as long as you’ll be there.
- I don’t mean buy one daily, but invest in a $20 or $30 card (depending on your stay) and use it. So many things are on or right off the Metro stops that you can walk the block to the next attraction. I took a cab once, nice, but expensive when I could just hop a train and get there. Again, don’t have a tight time table so that you can’t enjoy the cheaper and more interesting ways to travel!
- Do get a map of the Metro lines so that you don’t end up on the Green and end up in Maryland. Look at the map in advance and mark your stops, it’ll help with confusion and the anxiety of ending up somewhere you really don’t want to be.
- After a few days I knew the Met well enough that I didn’t worry about missing a stop or ending up in MD, I just settled back and enjoyed the trip, talked to some fellow passengers and stopped looking like such a tourist!
- Do things everyone enjoys.
- I can’t tell you how many trips I’ve been on where people (usually me) get frustrated about not seeing what’s important or interesting to me. Just because the majority hate libraries doesn’t mean that the one person who’d love to get a free library card to the libraries of Congress and visit Benjamin’s library to get into Jefferson’s isn’t worth the effort.
- Vacations make people grouchy and irritable because you’re stuck with the same people all day and night. A way to help that is to break up into smaller groups (if you have that many) and do specific trips and meet up at a later time and do something everyone enjoys. It’s easier to attend the favorites later in the day when people are less anxious about not being able to see the one thing that would make their trip complete.
- If one person is throwing a hissy about not getting to go to the one place they want and it’s making everyone else miserable, guess what? GO. For your sake, and definitely theirs, be the bigger person and go. I know, some people really don’t care to see the Watergate building but that Democrat will not shut up until they see the down fall of Nixon. Just let them see it and remember Nixon: peace!
- Lastly, RELAX. Lollygag around, take ridiculous pictures, eat a dripping ice cream in Grand Central Station, wake 5 hours to sit and watch the pandas in the zoo and don’t set the alarm to be up at 5:55AM. This is a VACATION.
- People get so caught up in cramming their days with so much agenda that they really do forget that this is a vacation from the everyday drivel. Usually when I get back from vacations, I need another vacation to recover from the one I was just on! (Tip: come back a day or two before your vacation time is over, to help recover from your awesome vacationy marathon!)