What to see in D.C.

I recently took a last minute red eye to Washington D.C. to visit a friend serving as an intern for Senator Mike Lee. I didn’t go on my high school senior trip to the Nation’s Capitol, because I wanted to save the money for college tuition. I said that I would go back and see it myself once I graduated from college, so I made good on that promise to myself!

I only had three full days in D.C., but I feel like I got almost everything in that I wanted to see. Here is DC in three days:

Day 1 – United States Capitol Tour

I went straight from the airport to the United States Capitol Building so that my friend could give me a tour while she was at work. It was amazing!! There are so many fascinating rooms, statues, and artwork that are full of history. There are underground tunnels, and even a train that connects the House and the Senate buildings together. If the legislature is in session you can go in and watch, which we were able to do.


The original Supreme Court room was one of my favorites. Standing in a room where our founding fathers made such historical decisions for our country is a rare experience. I also really enjoyed the Rotunda, which is the tallest part of the capitol. It’s a circular room filled with historical paintings and statues, the corridors connect the House of Representatives side and the Senate side.


You can get tickets ahead of time at this website: https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/book-tour-capitol or you can get tickets through your local Representative or Senator’s office.

2. Smithsonian and the Mall

I was determined that I was going to see all of the monuments in one day while my friend was at work. I started out at the Smithsonian, but had to pick which museums to see, because I couldn’t get them all in. I went to Natural History, American History, and Air and Space.

The Natural History Museum is great for kids, but I went through it pretty quickly. The American History Museum was probably my favorite. There is a wide range of exhibits from the first American Flag, to war memorabilia, to dresses of the first ladies. I also really enjoyed the Air and Space Museum. This museum is great for kids and adults.

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I had lunch in the American History Museum cafeteria and I wish I would have waited. There was tons of foods trucks on my walk from the Smithsonian to the Washington Memorial. I wanted to go inside the Washington Memorial, but when I got there I found out you need to get tickets months in advance online or show up at 7:30 am to get tickets. Good to know for future reference.

The World War II Monument is in between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It is a new monument that opened in 2004. It has 56 pillars in remembrance of those who served from the 48 states at the time and other territories.


You walk past the reflection pool on the way to the Lincoln Memorial. The view from the front steps of the Lincoln Memorial is amazing with the Washington Monument reflecting in the pool. It was really busy when I was there but completely worth it.


I then rode the metro to Arlington National Cemetery and was able to watch the last changing of the guards for the day. It was a humbling experience and something everyone should witness in honor of those who never made it home while protecting our freedom.


3. White House Spring Garden Tour

Hailee was able to get us White House Spring Garden Tickets. There are a couple of times a year when they open the gates to the White House and you are able to go up past the front door. We were evacuated across the street once for a suspicious package/bomb threat, but the secret service swept the area and we were allowed back in. If you are there at a time you can get your hands on these tickets I would highly suggest it otherwise you can only see the White House across the street.


After the White House we went to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. This is a monument that doesn’t attract as much attention as the Lincoln Memorial, but was definitely worth the visit.


We then went to FDR’s Memorial, which ended up being my favorite! It walks you through his four terms as president and spotlights his accomplishments during some of our nations most difficult times.


The places we ate that I would recommend:

Kramers Books – http://kramers.com/ This is a book store that has a restaurant in the back of it. The food was great and we looked around the bookstore while waiting for a table. Loved the downtown atmosphere.

Founding Farmers – http://www.wearefoundingfarmers.com/ This restaurant is unique in the farm to table concept supporting the small American farmers. The food was great and there was a broad selection. You will need to make a reservation to get in, especially on a weekend.

Teds – www.tedsbulletin.com We ate here for a brunch on Saturday morning and it was amazing! I would highly recommend it as a breakfast place. It was packed so I would recommend making a reservation.

A couple things I would do differently or see next time: 

  1. Get tickets in advance to go inside the Washington Monument.
  2. Get tickets and see the Holocaust Museum.
  3. Buy one metro pass and put money on it instead of paying for the cards each time.
  4. Wear better shoes! You walk alot!
  5. Go to the Newseum.

Metro Map:

You should download a copy of the metro map to your phone so that you can figure out where you are going. It took me a minute to figure out what lines I needed to get on in order to get where I wanted to go. Having a picture of the metro helped me immensely!


Safe travels!



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