Spending a Day in Washington, D.C.

August 17, 2016

Day in Washington, D.C. - lincoln memorial close up

Spending a day in Washington, D.C. is a great idea. Spending a day in Washington, D.C. in August (the first day, actually) can cause a traveler to have a second thought. But there I was with a day in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital is full of fantastic options of things to see and do. There’s no shortage of great restaurants and shops. And while the city does have plenty of public transit options — from the subway to buses doing circuits of the most popular tourist attractions — the relatively flat landscape makes for fantastic walking. Yeah, a day in Washington, D.C. is full of fun.

washington monument washington dc

lincoln memorial washington dc

Memorials to See in a Day in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. has a great combination of interesting sights. Many of these sights are free! Anyone who is even slightly interested in history or politics will find plenty to see and do. With some advance notice, you can arrange to tour the White House. For me, I settled on seeing the sights. This meant lots and lots of walking. Starting with a walk by of the White House, and then down to The National Mall. Situated on a 2.5-mile stretch of land marked by the Lincoln Memorial in the west and the Capitol Building in the west. National monuments and memorials dot the National Mall. I stopped by the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool.

From there, I walked around the Tidal Basin, where the famous Cherry Trees live.

jefferson memorial through the cherry trees national mall washington dc

Walking around the perimeter of the Tidal Basin, I stopped first at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The relatively new memorial features a sky-high sculpture of the man himself. Stone slabs engraved with his most memorable and inspiring quotes surround the statue, encouraging visitors to sit on a bench under a tree and consider his vision. Next stop was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial which I particularly found really interesting. Instead of a single statue, it was almost an experience that you walked through. Water features and small statues highlighted each segment and quotes from the man himself were engraved on the stone walls. Finally, round the Basin to the far side to visit the Jefferson Memorial. Housed inside of an impressive building, similar to the Lincoln Memorial, a statue of Jefferson looks out over the water.

mlk jr memorial national mall washington dc

fdr memorial dog statue national mall washington dc

fdr memorial statue national mall washington dc

inside the jefferson memorial national mall washington dc

A visit to the Tidal Basin is a nice break. The Tidal Basin area was less full of tourists and, from my point of view, had more interesting memorials and monuments. But be careful of those Cherry Trees! They have low-hanging branches.

corcoran school doorway washington dc

corcoran school washington dc

eisenhower executive office building facade washington dc

flag eisenhower executive office building facade washington dc

general jackson memorial statue washington dc

Museums to See in a Day in Washington, D.C.

Because I had limited time for my day trip, I decided to dedicate my afternoon to a single museum. And boy are there plenty of choices in Washington, D.C.! While I was tempted by the Newseum (not free) and the National Museum of American History (free and the home of plenty of pop culture icons), I spent the afternoon at the National Gallery of Art in the West Building. The free museum has an impressive collection. Notably, it features “Ginevra de’ Benci,” the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas.

national gallery of art the bagpiper

national gallery of art copyist program

The capital feels unlike any American city that I’ve ever visited. It has wide streets and similarly wide sidewalks. The downtown area is clean and the light-colored sidewalks reflect the natural sunlight while massive, impressive buildings surround you. People were friendly. I’m looking forward to returning to Washington, D.C.