Last weekend I was in Virginia to see my family-in-law. On the way back up to Vermont, my wife and I stopped in Washington DC to take a look around. I honestly didn’t know what Washington DC looked like – I did know that it’s home to several museums, the White House, etcetera, though. Expecting skyscrapers like in New York City, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the capital of the United States is made up of rather low buildings; office buildings and houses alike don’t rise endlessly toward the sky. This gives the city a spacious feel. You don’t feel crammed in and claustrophobic between towering skyscrapers, as can be the case in other American cities.
Washington DC was surprisingly green as well. I say green, but it really was brown earth and grass and white snow last weekend. The fact is, however, that there are thousands of trees and numerous public parks in the city. It must be one of the most beautiful cities in North America in spring, when (some of) the trees start blossoming.
A Day in Washington DC: Attractions
We arrived in the capital around 8 a.m., way before the museums opened. This allowed us to visit Arlington National Cemetery first, where some of my wife’s relatives are buried. Arlington Cemetery, in case you don’t know, is a renowned military cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington DC, the final resting place of people like Robert E. Lee, John F. Kennedy and Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis. It’s a major attraction.
After the cemetery, we drove around for a bit, giving ourselves a first impression of DC. We drove around the National Mall and all its monuments (the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol, for instance) and past the world-class museums that line it.
Over the course of the day, we visited three major museums. Three rather rushed visits, but enough to leave us wanting more. These museums were the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art and – my favorite – the extraordinary Air and Space Museum.
We spent about an hour to an hour and a half in each museum, seeing their highlights and, again, getting an impression. All museums are free to visit, by the way, which is the main reason we went to three in one day.
Before heading north to Vermont, we went on a drive through Georgetown, which turned out to be an incredibly beautiful and colorful neighborhood in the east of Washington DC. It’s supposedly one of the city’s main highlights and it was easy to see why. The area was chock-full with restaurants, bars, breweries, shops, boutiques, book stores, cafés and so on. And trees everywhere.
I’m not going to say that Washington DC overwhelmed me – our time there was way too short – but it did leave a great impression and left me wanting to go back, stay for a few days and explore the city in greater detail.
So, we will at some point in the future. As I said, spring may be a wonderful time to do that—maybe we’ll make it for Memorial Day!