Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Contrary to popular belief, Washington D.C, the nation’s capital is so much more than just a political epicentre of the United States. The city is home to some of the most legendary museums, one of the best hotels in the states, and harbours a large calendar that is filled to the brim with fun events that suit the palate of travellers of all ages. History buffs can step back in time by visiting the famed National Mall and book lovers can swoon over the book collection housed in the Library of Congress. Nature enthusiasts should consider visiting the city in springtime when the cherry blossoms bloom and events and festivals like the Blossom Kite Festival start to trickle outside. 

The nation’s capital has so much to offer that travelers sometimes get befuddled, as questions like, when should I visit the capital? Is spring the best time to visit Washington? Where should I stay? What places should I visit in D.C.? swarm their mind. If you are seeking answers to these questions, then look no further than this blog as it offers the ultimate visitors guide to Washington D.C. 

Without further ado let’s take a look at Washington D.C visitors guide so you can plan your trip around it. 

The Ultimate Washington D.C Visitors Guide 

Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

In this visitor’s guide to Washington D.C., we will cover everything from how you can get to the capital to budgeting tips. So, stick around till the end to see what we have in stock for you.

When is the Best Time to Visit the National Capital – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Best time to visit D.C

The best time to visit the national capital is between the months of April and June as during this time the temperature is moderate, and the events and festivals are in abundance. With spring comes Washington’s famous cherry blossom season, which is undoubtedly the best time of the year in the capital. From late March to early April, the National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place during which guests can enjoy parade, kite festivals, and cherry blossom-themed food. 

When May rolls around, so does the graduation season and the city’s hotels start filling up with the proud family members of the graduates. Therefore, if you plan to visit Washington during this time, make sure to book your accommodation in advance. The peak season in the national capital is July and August with the 4th of July being the highlight of the season. 

How to Get to the National Capital – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

how to travel to D.C

You can get to Washington D.C. either via bus, car, train, or plane. The city is served by there airports namely, Reagan National (DCA), Dulles International (IAD), and Baltimore-Washington International (BWI). Among these, the Washington Dulles International Airport is the largest one in the region and is serviced by almost all of the United States major airlines. It is however located about 26 miles outside of Washington D.C in Chantilly. On the other hand, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport lies only about five miles from D.C., which makes it the closest and the most convenient option. However, it has significantly fewer flight options and is served by only eight airlines. 

You can also travel to Washington D.C via Amtrak trains that have daily routes from some of the major cities of the United States such as New York, Chicago, and Boston. The trains run directly to Union Station which lies within walking distance of some of Washington D.C’s most popular landmarks and attractions. If you prefer to travel by bus you can opt for companies like MegaBus which offers several different routes of the U.S. capital and is currently providing trips to Washington from some of the major U.S cities that include Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York. 

Getting Around the Capital – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Trains – You can get around the capital via Metrorail which is operated by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The Metrorail not only operates across the U.S. capital but also traverses into parts of Maryland and Virginia. It harbors six lines i.e. orange, yellow, blue, green, silver, and red. A ride on Metrorail will cost you anywhere between $2 and $6 with the amount depending on where you are traveling to and the time of the day. You can also opt for a one-day pass that costs $13, a three-day pass costing $28, or a seven-day pass that you can get for $58. 

Buses – If traveling by bus is more your style you will be happy to know that D.C. has a Metrobus system that also comes under the operation of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The WMATA is on its way to drastically change the Metrobus system in the coming years and has also created the Better Bus, which is an initiative that is meant to completely revitalize the bus system of Washington. The project is in the planning phase, but changes will start to roll out next year.

Car Service and Taxis – Car services such as Lyft and Uber are available in the greater Washington D.C area and you can find taxi stands spread out across the city. In order to schedule a cab in advance you can book through a local company such as D.C Yellow Cab or you can schedule a local black car via services like ExecuCar. 

Cars – Due to the extremely comprehensive public transportation system, driving in the capital city seems a bit unnecessary. However, if you are driving then, you can download apps like SpotHero that will help you find and reserve parking spaces all across Washington D.C. 

By Foot – One of the best ways to explore the capital is by walking. If you are able, opt for walking across the city for a truly immersive experience. 

Neighborhoods to Know Before You Visit – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

neighbourhoods in D.C

Downtown – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Downtown Washington D.C is home to the most important address in the United States of America i.e. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Here you will find not only the White House but also the majority of Washington’s most famous museums including the National Geographic Museum. Moreover, if you’re the kind of person who runs away from crowds but wants to see stunning views then downtown is the best place for you. 

Instead of going to the overly crowded Washington Monument which is always teeming with tourists and locals head downtown and make your way to the old post office and clock tower that is located on the corner of 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The clock tower, which rises up to 257 feet, offers stunningly unparallel views of Pennsylvania Avenue and the best part is that you don’t need tickets to go to the top of the tower as it is operated by and comes under the ownership of the National Park Service. 

Georgetown – Washington D.C Visitors Guide 

The neighbourhood that surrounds Georgetown University has much more spark than your classic, regular college enclave. This neighbourhood is home to some of Washington’s most upscale restaurants and hotels along with C&O Canal, historic homes that date back to the 18th and 19th century as well as one of America’s best shopping streets M Street. 

Capitol Hill – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Capitol Hill is home to the United States Capitol Building, the U.S. House and Senate, and the Supreme Court building. This neighborhood of Washington D.C is the political epicenter of the United States of America and here you will find plenty of political working crowd as well as swarm of tourists. 

The Wharf – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Wharf is the trendiest neighbourhood of Washington D.C that is helping to reestablish the city as a waterfront destination. This is the neighborhood that you go to have the ultimate D.C. experience. Start your day in the Wharf by doing a bit of shopping at Shop Made in D.C where you will find everything made by local makers. Once you are done here, head next door to the Politics & Prose which is one of Washington’s favorite independent bookstores, and do a bit of bookish shopping there. 

Across the way, you will find Surfside which is a locally-owned taco stand harboring an island vibe. You can grab a bite to eat from there in order to gain fuel for the rest of the day. As no meal is complete without a desert, make your way to the family-owned and operated Southwest Soda Pop Shop to grab some homemade ice cream. 

Best Hotels – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Hotels in D.C

Riggs Washington D.C – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

One of the best hotels where you can stay in the nation’s capital is Riggs Washington D.C and it has got all the accolades to prove its worth. In 2023 the hotel was named the best hotel in Washington D.C by travelleisure, and also ranks fourth among the top 10 best hotels in Washington D.C. Once a national bank headquarters, the Riggs Washington D.C effortlessly and very beautifully combines its past and present. At the hotel you will come across bespoke touches paying homage to its history, one of such touches includes in-room minibars that are designed to look like vintage safes. 

When staying at Riggs Washington D.C you will get the ultimate celebrity treatment. The rooms at the hotel offer stunning views of the city and come with a Smart TV and free Wi-Fi. The hotel houses two restaurants where you can enjoy all-American cuisine. There is also a bar that can be found in the original basement vault. At the Riggs Washington D.C, you will also find a spectacular fitness centre as well as a spa and wellness centre. Those who have stayed there claim that the hotel serves some of the most delicious breakfasts in the entirety of Washington.  

The Jefferson – Washington D.C Visitors Guide 

The Jefferson was also voted one of the city’s best hotels in 2022 by Travelleisure. This hotel is an independently owned boutique that harbours about 99 guest rooms and features elements inspired by America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson’s travels in Paris and home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lying just a few blocks away from the White House and historic Washington D.C. landmarks, the hotel features an intricately thought-out design that resonates with charm and sophistication, elegant suites, modern amenities, exceptional personalized service as well and experiential dining. Guests staying here can enjoy food from two on-site restaurants, cocktails from a top-notch on-site bar, room service, free Wi-Fi, private parking, as well as a fitness center.  

Rosewood Washington D.C – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Rosewood Washington D.C is a chic accommodation that you can find lying in Georgetown along the C&O Canal. The gorgeous property features 55 rooms, six townhouses that are designed to accommodate long-term guests and 12 elegant suites. Guests staying at Rosewood can enjoy a meal at the onsite restaurant Cut, a Wolfgang Puck steakhouse. The restaurant is open seven days a week and also hosts a brunch on the weekends. Other amenities offered by Rosewood Washington D.C include an indoor swimming pool, free airport shuttle, room service, facilities for disabled guests, private parking, breakfast, bar, and free Wi-Fi.   

The Hay-Adams – Washington D.C Visitors Guide

The Hay-Adams is a beautiful historic hotel that overlooks Lafayette Square and offers great views of the Washington Monument and the White House. The hotel was named Hay-Adams after its original residents John Hay, and Henry Adams. Those staying at the hotel can enjoy top-notch amenities like eating gourmet food at its on-site restaurant the Lafayette Room, free Wi-Fi, in-room Bose CD players, free newspaper, a business centre, on-site bar called the Off the Record Bar, on-site parking, fitness centre, room service, and fabulous breakfast.  The hotel resonates with an Italian Renaissance vibe offering 145 spectacular rooms that evoke a sense of timelessness and keep visitors coming back for more. 

Pendry Washington D.C The Wharf – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Pendry is one of  the newest hotel in the national capital and opened its doors to the public in the October of 2022. The hotel is home to 131 rooms and features high-end amenities that include a panoramic pool terrace with cabanas, spa facilities, a rooftop restaurant, sun loungers, and swimming pool. Room service, a wellness center, coffee and tea makers in all rooms, bar, parking on-site and a bar are also available. Most of the rooms housed in Pendry feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunningly beautiful views of the Potomac River as well as monuments like the Jefferson Memorial. 

Best Restaurants – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C


The Restaurant at District Winery

Inside Washington D.C’s first operational winery, you will find an upscale dining room that is adorned with expansive windows overlooking the nearby Anacostia River. Ched de cuisine Nicholas Fulginiti crafted a delicious vegetable-forward menu for the guests by taking inspiration from local ingredients. You can hit the restaurant for dinner on weekdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. or visit it for brunch which starts at 11 a.m. on weekends. 

Call Your Mother – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Call Your Mother is a famous D.C. deli that is a personal favourite of President Joe Biden as well as the locals. Shortly after he was sworn in as president, he visited the deli to grab celebratory bagels. The bagels at Call Your Mother are inspired by New York and Montreal-style bagels. Apart from bagels the deli also serves tuna melts and pastrami sandwiches that are quite popular among the public. The deli harbors seven locations in Washington D.C all of which remain open every day of the weel, though each has its own set hours that you can check online before visiting.

Fiola Mare – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Fiola Mare is a top-notch Washington D.C. restaurant that delivers high-end service, serves delicious seafood, and offers beautiful waterfront views all in one place. The restaurant speaks a language of sophistication and charm and harbors a menu that changes seasonally. The grand menu reflects the fare that is found along Italy’s most famous coastlines such as the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. If you are in the mood for some fine dining, then a trip to Fiola Mare is a must. The restaurant welcomes guests and serves them all seven days of week however keep in mind that on Mondays Fiola Mare opens at 5 p.m. and closes around 9 p.m.

Jaleo – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

In 1993 the award-winning chef, Jose Andres started his legacy here at the national capital and helped transform the Pen Quarter neighborhood into a bustling food destination. Jaleo is a high-class restaurant that celebrates the vibrant Spanish culture via its scrumptious signature tapas, cured meats, and paellas. When in D.C visit Jaleo on a weekday for the “sangria hour”. During the sangria hour, the price of wine, sangria, and certain tapas is reduced during the time slot of 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Keep in mind that the restaurant remains closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. 

Union Market – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Union Market is an artisanal hub that is home to 41 vendors and boasts a large variety of scrumptious restaurants that range from smaller names such as TaKorean which is found only in D.C and Maryland areas, to Laduree, a French pastry giant. The Union Market harbors food that will suit the taste buds of almost everyone. From Argentinian empanadas and avocado toast to Southern comfort food, the Union Market is the ultimate place to go if you wish to try different cuisines in one place. The market remains open from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and opens on Sundays during the time slot of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  

Best Places to Shop – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

places to shop

Cady’s Alley – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Cady’s Alley also known as the design district of the national capital is home to high-end designers and local antiques which include fashion, home furnishings, and other chic shops. The alley is occupied currently by 19 shops that include the high-end jewelry shop, Brilliant Earth, Relish which sells accessories and clothes as well as District Doughnut which sells some of the most scrumptious donuts in the capital. 

M Street Shops, Georgetown – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

For anyone visiting Washington D.C a trip to the M street is a must, especially for visitors who are keen on shopping for the capital’s high-end and luxe boutiques. When shopping at M Street make sure to pop by some national favorites such as Urban Outfitters, Patagonia, and Brandy Melville. 

Politics and Prose – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Politics and Prose is an independent bookstore in D.C. and is a paradise for lovers of books. Known for its almost nightly author talks, the store carries thousands of books that include all kinds of genres as well as an expanded children’s section. You can also get exclusive perks and discounts at the store by becoming a member for just $35 a year. 

CityCenterDC  – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Located in downtown D.C, CityCenterDC is your one-stop shopping destination. The place harbors 24 retail shops, nine dining venues, and also a lodging option, the Conrad Washington D.C. The shops here include almost all the high brands like Dior, Chanel, and Gucci.

Things to Do in D.C – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

places to see

Library of Congress – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Library of Congress is not only the largest library in the world, but it is also a world of art featuring beautiful and intricate reading rooms, and other fine architectural details that give it a very modern, timeless, and sophisticated feel. For anyone seeking knowledge or just a shelter from the crowd and humidity of D.C. the Library of Congress provides a great respite. The library which was established in 1800, is home to 16 million books and over 120 million other items and harbors a staff of about 3,000 that helps maintain the place and keep it running. 

George Washington’s Mount Vernon – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

When in the national capital, make sure to visit George Washington’s home and learn all bout the first president’s life and the rich legacy that he left behind, at this historic site. In addition to the mansion that allows timed entry, Mount Vernon also harbors a museum and education center, a slave memorial, gardens, Washington’s tomb, and a working farm.

Several seasonal events are also held here that include, a colonial market, fireworks, and whiskey tastings. You will find George Washington’s Mount Vernon open 365 days of the year between the time slot of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost of admission for adults is $28, for children between the ages of six and eleven is $15, while kids under the age of five are granted free entry. 

National Mall – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

National Mall also regarded as America’s front yard houses iconic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Washington Monument. 

Museums – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The national capital calls itself the home of 74 museums, that cover a wide enrage of topics from history and art to science and aerospace. Visiting Washington D.C and not touring one of its grand museums would be a great loss on your part. Some of the notable museums housed by the national capital include the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Capitol Building – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Capitol Building, located on Capitol Hill is the place where since the year 1800, the Congress has met to write the United States laws. Your visit to the Capitol buildings will start with a short intro film and a tour of the neoclassical Rotunda, the Crypt (which is not an actual crypt, just looks like one), and the National Sanctuary Hall. The tours of the Capitol Building take place from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Arlington National Cemetery – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Arlington National Cemetery is a 639=acre cemetery that is the final resting place of more than 400,000 military personnel and President John F. Kennedy as well as his family. JFK’s grave at the national cemetery is marked by an eternal flame and nearby it you can find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where every 30 to 60 minutes the changing of the guard ceremony takes place. The cemetery is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can visit it for free. 

White House – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

When in D.C. make sure to visit the place where the most powerful person in the country resides. The White House, built in 1800, welcomes guests allowing them to tour its halls and learn its history as well as the history of all those who inhabited it. If you covet a visit to the White House, you will be able to apply in advance to get tickets via your member of Congress. In case you are a foreigner, you will have to arrange a tour to the White House through your embassy in Washington D.C. 

Supreme Court – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

The Supreme Court of the United States is housed in a Neoclassical building called the Marble Palace that was built in 1935. In the Supreme Court, the court sessions are open to the public on a first come first serve basis. Moreover, there are also free lectures of 30-minute duration in the main hall that thoroughly explain how the court functions. When visiting the court make sure to attend one of these lectures as they offer tons of information.  

Cost of Traveling to the National Capital – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

Hostel Prices – During the peak season the cost of a bed in a 4 to 6-bed dorm costs about $55 to $65 per night, whereas in the off-season the same dorm will cost around $50 to $55. For a dorm room with eight beds or more, you will have to pay per night around $50 to $60 in the peak season and about $40 to $45 in the off-season. During the peak season, private double rooms at the hostel cost around $130 to $150 per night and the same room costs around $120 per night during the off-season. Free Wi-Fi is available almost in every hostel in D.C, while some also offer complimentary breakfast. 

For campers, carrying around a tent, several campsites are available outside the city the cost of which starts from $20 per night for a basic two-person site without electricity. 

Budget Hotels Cost – In D.C. the cost of a two-star budget hotel starts from $140 per night in peak season, while in the off-season, the price drops to $00 per night. The national capital also offers a lot of Airbnb options with private rooms starting from $ 50 to $70 per night and entire home or apartment costing at least $125 per night. 

Food – Even though D.C. is home to some of the United States’ wealthiest dignitaries, you will be able to find a plethora of cheap food options there. Visit the world’s renowned Ben’s Chili Bowl and get a bowl of chili for only $5. Also, make sure to try the half-smokes which are sausages that are smoked before they are cooked and cost anywhere from $6 to $7.

A large pizza in D.C will cost you about $11 to $15, the same goes for Chinese food, while Indian/Pakistani food will cost you anywhere between $15 to $20. Fast Food in D.C. starts from $8, casual meals at a restaurant with table service start at around $20, while the cost of a three-course meal with a drink starts from $55. 

Price Breakup Depending on the Type of Traveler – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

 AccommodationFoodTransportationSights/AttractionsAvg Daily Cost

Tips For Traveling to D.C – Visitors Guide to Washington D.C

  • Choose the season you wish to visit D.C. wisely as every season brings with it, its own pros and cons, so make sure to do your search and find the one that suits you. 
  • Washington DC is an exciting place harboring a lot of memorials, museums, historic neighborhoods, and monuments, therefore opt for a guided tour as it will give you a good overview of the city, and its popular places and will help you get oriented. 
  • As most of the museums and monuments are in the central area, try to walk everywhere to save some money. 
  • D.C. is home to a number of free attractions, therefore try to visit free museums and attractions to save money.
  • Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle with you spending $4 to $5 on a mere water bottle is a waste.

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