3 Crucial Tips for Visiting Washington D.C

Little girl at the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C.

If you’ve been following the blog this year, then you know that we took a trip to Washington D.C this spring that went terribly awry. We had the chance to make the trip again this summer and I wanted to make sure we didn’t make those same mistakes again.

I took my time and put a lot of effort into planning our redemption trip. And I can honestly say that it was worth it!

Our second trip to D.C went MUCH smoother! Here are the things that we did RIGHT this time around.

3 Crucial Tips for Visiting Washington D.C. | Finding Mandee

Don’t Try to Walk Everywhere

During our first trip to Washington D.C, we tried to walk everywhere. And it was a GIANT mistake. All four of us ended up with terrible blisters and achy feet/legs.

This time, we spent the money for a trolley tour and it was worth every. single. penny. Not only did we not have to worry about hurt feet, but we were able to experience more attractions.

Though it was a little pricey, I highly recommend Old Town Trolley Tours. We could hop on, hop off as many times as we wanted. The guides were friendly and knowledgeable. And the open-air trolleys were spacious, clean, and offered great views of the city.

Resting our tired feet at the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.
(Resting our tired feet at the WWII Memorial. You are allowed to sit at the edge with your feet in the water.)

Don’t Go During a Festival

During our last visit to the Capital, we went during the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival. In my naivete, I thought that we could see both the cherry blossoms and the major attractions at the National Mall. But I was so very wrong and our trip was miserable.

The cherry blossoms were gorgeous, but the crowds were dreadful. It was almost impossible to find somewhere to eat, getting into any of the museums was hours of waiting, and it was difficult to even walk down the street because of the sheer number of people.

Our second trip was much more enjoyable and much less crowded since it was just a ‘normal’ weekend and not a huge event. Make sure you check the events happening in D.C before you go to try to avoid the ridiculous crowds.

Little girl at the Vietnam Wall.
(Since there were less crowds, we could take our time at each memorial. I was able to capture this picture of my youngest at the Vietnam Wall.)

Don’t Try to See Everything at Once

This tip sucks! And it was and still is so hard for me to accept. Even though I have now been to our nation’s capital 3 times, I still have not seen all of the monuments on my bucket list.

Every time we go somewhere, I want to do and see as much as possible. We typically don’t return to the same destination twice during our travels, so it makes sense to me to do it all while we can.

However, Washington is not a city where you can do that…especially in a weekend. Ideally, I would try to spend at least 5 days in D.C. Even then, you still might not get to everything on your list.

Before our tour of the Capitol Building.

My best advice is to make a list of the things that you want to see and prioritize what you want to see them most. Make sure to see your priorities first and everything else after the high priority places are out of the way.

You might also have to accept that you may not get to see one of the major attractions due to circumstances outside of your control. For instance, we weren’t allowed in the Washington Monument due to elevator and security updates that have kept it closed to the public since 2016. We also didn’t get to see the Jefferson Memorial due to roof replacement that won’t be complete until May of 2020.

You can check the status of all of the monuments at the National Mall on the National Park Service’s website.

I wish I would have known all of this before our first family trip to Washington D.C. But we live and learn and then we help others avoid our mistakes!

3 Crucial Tips for Visiting Washington D.C. | Finding Mandee

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